Crabtree Falls is located in the Crabtree Falls & Meadows Recreation Area at Milepost 339.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway (about 45 miles north of Asheville) and is accessed by woodland hiking trail with two options: An easier 3-mile hike to and from on the same trail with a little elevation change. Or a strenuous loop trail that climbs a ridge above the falls. It's a beautiful hike, complete with plenty of wildflowers. The 70-foot waterfall is definitely worth the trek!
NOTE: The campground, picnic area and store will be closed for the 2013 season due to federal budget cuts. But parking area for the trail to Crabtree Falls will remain open!
Park at the store (closed) and look for the "Falls" hiking trail sign. Walk down the trail past the amphitheatre into the campground about 1/3 mile. Just past a small info booth, you will see a small parking area on the right with a sign for the Crabtree Falls Trailhead.
Take the trail from the parking area to a 'T' intersection. The trail to the right is shorter and somewhat easier. It's mostly downhill to the waterfall (just under a mile). A bridge over the creek in front of the falls offers great views. There are even better views on the other side of the creek, and you can walk up to the base of the falls. The photos on this page were taken after a good bit of rain. So the water flow is much less during drier times of the year.
You can either return the same trail or complete the loop (adds an extra 1/2 mile) by climbing the stairs across Big Crabtree Creek and continuing up and along the creek for the 1.7-mile hike back to the parking area. The first part just after the waterfall is the steepest. When you get closer to the campground, spur trails will head off to the right into the campground - follow signs for Loop B and amphitheatre to get you back to your car.
There is a large picnic area (closed in 2013) a bit south on the Parkway. Crabtree Falls marks the last stretch of the Parkway through the Blue Ridge Mountains before it turns westward into the Blacks, Craggies, Pisgahs and Balsams. In the early summer, the Meadows is a showplace of wildflowers, including the hawthorne, beard tongue, mountain laurel, and gentian.
The camping area (closed in 2013) features 71 tent and 22 RV sites with sanitary dump stations, ranger programs and access to hiking trails. Each loop has a common comfort station with running water. It is usually open approximately May through October. Parkway campgrounds have sites that will accommodate trailers up to 30 feet in length. No water or electrical hookups are available to individual sites.
Other waterfalls nearby are Linville Falls, Roaring Fork Falls and Setrock Creek Falls.
Download the PDF of the Crabtree Falls hiking map provided by the National Park Service.
Waterfall Drives & Maps