“The future of life on Earth depends on our ability to see the sacred where others see only the common.” —John Denver
Crabtree Falls is off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 339.5 just south of Little Switzerland, North Carolina. Point your GPS to 2352 Blue Ridge Pkwy, Burnsville, NC 28714. Or click on the map below to open Google Maps. Note that the parkway is closed at times, check its status at the NPS road closure website.
The falls is a 70 foot cascade on Big Crabtree Creek. It was originally known as Murphy Falls and a small community was located nearby including a church and blacksmith shop. When the Blue Ridge Parkway was built in the 30's the National Park Service renamed it to Crabtree Falls.
The first time I visited Crabtree falls was a cold February morning. I got to the parking lot at 9:30 am after driving through the clouds on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I saw two deer on the way down to the falls and no other living thing - except, of course, the falls itself. Its the raw power and beauty stopped me in my tracks and I stood on the bridge almost gasping in awe. My second visit was in June and I still had the falls to myself for most of the visit. But, by the time I left at 10 am people were beginning to arrive.
To reach the falls park in the lot right off the parkway and follow the signs walking through the campground for about a half a mile to the head of the Crabtree Falls trail. The trail is a loop, and at the trail head you can take the shorter right path (1 mile) or longer left path (1.6 miles). The hike down is moderate but the hike back out is strenuous so be prepared with good, waterproof hiking boots - the paths are rocky and root covered and the elevation gain is 625 feet. The right path goes pretty much steadily down all the way (and steadily up on the way back). The left path is more gradual with sections that are flat - but it makes up for it with a steep section near the trail head and a very steep section near the falls. It took me 30 minutes to hike in on the right path and 1 hour and 10 minutes to hike out on the left path. There are good trail maps at the NPS website and at All Trails. There are bathroom facilities at the parking lot.
Once you reach the falls the views are tremendous regardless of the season. You can take very good pictures right from the bridge across the creek below the falls. And you can hike up both sides of the creek to capture different views. In winter when the leaves are off the trees you can capture interesting views of the falls from a distance. Watch your step as the rocks will be wet and slippery. Waterfalls are best photographed on a cloudy day or early in the morning before the sun reached down into the valley. But, even on a sunny day it is worth the trip!