Three Diverse Waterfall Hikes for the Weekend

August 6, 2021

Written by Carter Brackman, Hydaway Outfitter Manager

Do you ever have the itch to get outside, to feel the fresh air flow through your lungs? Virginia is the place that can provide a solution to that problem. Virginia is loaded with hundreds of different hiking trails, from the coast of Virginia Beach to the mountains of Shenandoah.

It is one of our goals to provide a diverse grouping of trips so that every person has the opportunity to experience the outdoors in a positive way — each person is made uniquely by the Creator, and there are certain outdoor activities that may not appeal to everyone. The same can be said of hiking. There are hikes for all different types of people. So, if you’ve been dying to get on a trail but couldn’t figure out which one to pick, we have some recommendations for you!

Saint Mary’s Waterfall

Saint Mary’s Waterfall is one of the most beautiful, well-mapped hikes in Virginia. It is an easy hike with very little elevation gain. The trail is located in Raphine, VA which is about an hour and a half drive from Lynchburg. It makes for a great one-day trip. The trail itself begins just off of Saint Mary Rd; there is a large kiosk that gives all the information that you will need to know about the trail and how you can get back to your car safely. The trail follows along a stream that is fed by the waterfall itself. The trail also weaves over this stream for 1.8 miles as you get closer to the waterfall. Make sure you bring slip-resistant shoes as the majority of the hike is rocky and wet as a result of the waterfall and stream.

All-in-all, it is around a 4-mile hike with little elevation and beautiful views the entire time. This would be a great hike for someone with a desire to get outside and take it slow.

Upper Shamokin Falls and Morgan’s Loop

Upper Shamokin Falls is a 1-mile loop trail located very close to Wintergreen Resort. The hike is officially in Nellysford, Virginia which sits in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains/Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a short 1-mile hike that actually starts at a high elevation and loops down to the mountain top where the waterfall is. It is a trail that is used for hiking in addition to trail running. This hike is a bit steep and will require caution and a slower pace. But the view at the bottom is gorgeous. This would be a great hike for a group who wanted to do a “destination hike”.

Wintergreen is around one hour away from Lynchburg and offers some great activities for people to do. The hike at Upper Shamokin Falls could be paired with some dinner at Wintergreen Resort or any of the other local restaurants. Make sure you also check out the “One Minute Overlook” and “Raven’s Roost” overlooks off the Blue Ridge if you have the time!

Lower White Oaks Falls

Lastly is Lower White Oaks Falls. This is a 3-mile out and back hike located in Syria, Virginia. This trial is around 2 hours and 15 minutes away and is located within Shenandoah National Park. Just a heads up, Shenandoah National Park charges a fee to enter. These fees are either $35/vehicle or $15/person. You could also purchase a park-specific annual pass for $55 if you anticipate going back to the National Park multiple times during the next year.

It is the most difficult recommendation in this list given the distance and elevation gain throughout the duration of the hike. The trailhead begins at the Whiteoak Canyon Lower Parking lot. There are some areas that are rocky and difficult to traverse. There are also some stream crossing sections so be prepared to get wet. You will need to pack snacks, water, and an extra pair of clothes to sustain you during the hike. This is a hike that we would recommend to someone who desires a slight challenge and desires to be “in the elements”.

We hope you take advantage of these hikes in a safe, fun way!