I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend this year. Hopefully you got a chance to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. My opportunity came on Saturday. It was just myself and my fiancé wanting me to take her some place special. I could think of no better place than The Cascades or Cascade Falls as they are known in Pembroke, Va. This is a place I first discovered this January. I have now made 2 additional trips. It really is a beautiful place. At just a little over 2 hours from the triad, it is a fairly short drive up into the Virginia hills. Mostly interstate travel on I-77 and I-81 will get you into the vicinity, then a stroll through a few of Virginia’s small towns such as Dublin, Pearisburg and New River Valley will land you near Pembroke, Virginia. This nice little town sits just south of the Virginia / West Virginia state line at the base of some beautiful mountains peaking about 4200 ft or so. This is also just west of Blacksburg, so this deep in Virginia Tech Hokie country.
Restrooms at the parking lot and trailhead.
Approaching Pembroke from the west, on US 460, you will be looking for Cascade Dr. This will be a left turn. This road winds about 4 miles through a small community of homes and churches and dead ends in a large parking lot in the Jefferson National Forest and the Cascades Trailhead. Driving up Cascade Drive, gives you the first look at Little Stony Creek, the water supply responsible for the beautiful waterfall further up in the hills. The sight of constant rapids and cascading gives you the sense that something special is ahead. Once here, you will need to stop at the pay station and pay $3 per vehicle. These trails are very clean and well maintained. With nice restrooms and picnic tables, I am happy to help the cause of keeping this place up. If you are thinking about not paying, the fee increases to $75. So……come with a little cash!
Once on the trail, one soon has a big decision to make. This wonderful stream and waterfall is equipped with not 1 but 2 trails for access. The first one is the upper trail. It stays on the left side of the stream for its entirety. Sometimes it will be way above the creek, other times it will be right at it. It is a fairly straight, wide trail that will get you to the waterfall quicker. If time is an issue, this is the one to take. It is 2 miles to the Cascades no matter which trail you decide take. The second mile is the steeper of the two. In 3 hikes to this wonderful place, I have used this upper trail to come back all 3 times and once to get there due to snow and ice.
The second option is the lower trail. This one is accessed by a very nice bridge just past the trailhead. The first half is on the opposite side of the creek and is all creek level. Here, the trail is more narrow, more up and down, and way more scenic! Before crossing bridge though, don’t forget to check out the “Stairs to Nowhere”. A well made set of man made steps that used to lead to the bridge that got washed away in the flood of ’96. It now gives you an up close and personal view of several beautiful rapids along Little Stony Creek.
This lower trail was once a well paved trail, there will be remnants like the photo above. This was all destroyed in the flood 1996. There are places where large trees lay in this creek that were pushed around like tooth picks. This is a large, powerful creek that roars the entire 2 mile hike. I can only imagine how it would rage with a good soaking of 5 inches of rain in a short amount of time.
About halfway up, the lower trail comes to another bridge. Cross this bridge, and you are officially half way. If you want to switch and take the upper trail, this is the spot to do it. Both trails will be on the left side of the creek the rest of the way. Once you arrive at the top, it opens up to a wide open pool and large 69 foot waterfall. These are the Cascades. Plan to spend a good half an hour or more here because it is an absolute beautiful place. I have seen ice in the falls all 3 times here but I imagine this will be quite a swimming hole in the summer. If you want solitude, come during the week…it is a very popular place. For those that still have some left in the tank, a great view known as Barney’s Wall is another 2 miles up as the trail continues on past the falls. You can see it from the trail, its pretty far up, might want to pack a lunch and get an early start for that one. The hike down from the falls along the Upper Trail is relaxing and soon you will be on your way. Chances are you will be thinking already of when you can make it back up here!