Refreshment: Brisk Waterfall Hikes for Winter

The holidays have come and gone, decorations are packed away, and things are falling back into place. Yet, the post-holiday season can be one of depression as short, dim days are often accompanied by credit card statements or lingering heartbreak from holidays past.

It’s time to put one foot in front of the other and seek light.

A brisk walk anywhere will do a body good, but one with a rewarding feature will be quite a bit more memorable. Set off for beauty in the midst of gray this winter.

Virginia’s waterfalls may be frozen or merely a trickle this time of year, but the formations that create them are a true asset to the imagination and will beckon you back during a time of warmth.

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Falling Spring Falls by Heather Elias (Flickr Creative Commons)

Falling Spring Falls in Alleghany County has a healthy upstream supply of water, so it will be flowing well. It’s easy to get to with no hike required. Simply pull over on Route 220 to see it from an overlook. That may be just enough to put a smile on your face and set the tone to seek out the more secluded waterfalls that follow.

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Cascade Falls by Daniel Farrell (Flickr Creative Commons)

Cascade Falls in Giles County is one that is sure to be flowing, and quite likely frozen. It’s located in Jefferson National Forest and approachable by The Cascades National Scenic Trail off of Cascade Drive in Pembroke. There is a $3 fee per vehicle and the trail is four miles round trip.

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Apple Orchard Falls by Kyle Guisewhite (Flickr Creative Commons)

Apple Orchard Falls is in Jefferson National Forest off of the Sunset Fields overlook near milepost 78 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You can also access it by parking at the end of North Creek Road (59) in Botetourt County. The hike is moderate and suitable for families.

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Crabtree Falls by Casey L. Higgins. All rights reserved.

Crabtree Falls in Nelson County is the highest vertical cascading falls east of the Mississippi River, descending 1,200 feet with some impressive falls and less stellar trickles to achieve its claim to fame. Be very careful to stay on the path as a tricky, slicky, clear algae is known to form and cause fatal slips. Plenty of parking is available in a designated area off of Crabtree Falls Highway (56). This is steep trail with 1,000 feet of elevation change, however, the path to the lower falls is paved and handicap accessible so that all can enjoy a glimpse of the beauty.

Happy New Year and happy new you.

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