For many, the Southern Appalachians' prettiest waterfall.
Crabtree Falls is at Milepost 339.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 15 miles north of Mount Mitchell and 24 miles south of Linville Falls. Turn into the northernmost entrance to the Crabtree Falls Recreation Area and bear right into the campground. Just past the campground contact station, turn right into the trailhead.
The strenuous 2.5-mile Crabtree Falls Loop Trail is one of western North Carolina's best waterfall hikes-especially on a sunny spring day after significant rain. There also a campground, picnic area, snack bar and gift shop on hand so you can base yourself near the trail.
Take the wide gravel path to the loop junction with a sign and bench and turn right. The path winds down into a cove with steep stone steps at two switchbacks. There's a bench in the last switchback where the trail turns left and heads toward the waterfall. A bridge with benches spans Crabtree Creek at the base of the falls. Little paths on either side of the stream lead closer to the misty pool under the cataract.
This is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Southern Appalachians-water dances down the face. Retrace your steps for a 1.8-mile out-and-back hike. To continue the loop, cross the stream and climb sunny switchbacks past another great view of the falls. Just past stone steps and a metal railing, a bench marks the top of the climb.
The trail then becomes easy through a tunnel of rhododendron and mountain laurel with the stream off to your left. It's beautiful as you cross a small side stream on a bridge and then a bigger span of Crabtree Creek at 1.3 miles.
Past the stream, a stretch of trail rises then turns left, crosses a bridge and then parallels the stream to its source. At about 2.1 miles a side trail branches right to campground Loop B. Steer left to reach the trail junction at the end of the loop. Back at the trail sign by the bench, turn right there on the wide gravel path up to your car.
(For more detail on these and other Boone area trails, pick up a trail guide by local outdoor expert Randy Johnson.)
Zoom in close on the map below (use the plus/minus signs and directional arrows at upper left), or repeatedly double click near, but not on, the map symbols. You can literally dive down to see the parking lots and landmarks for Crabtree Falls hikes. Click any map symbol and information balloons pop up. In the trailhead parking map balloon, click "Directions," add your address or location, and step-by-step directions will guide you to the hike from wherever you are!