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Hiking Waterfalls in Virginia

The Natural Bridge itself truly is jaw-dropping in its size and scope. It seems totally incongruous for where it is located... And since you can only stare at something for so long, even something as cool at the Natural Bridge, why not keep walking to Lace Falls?

The Natural Bridge and Lace Falls, 1895


Hiking Waterfalls in Virginia

A Guide to the State's Best Waterfall Hikes
by Andy Thompson
Falcon Guides, 2015

As part of the American Hiking Society's "Where to Hike" series of guidebooks, this volume describes four dozen hikes that approach or access or provide a good view of one or more waterfalls in the state of Virginia. In addition to maps and specifics on the length of the hike and its difficulty, each profile offers some natural and historical context to consider on the trail such as historical events or unsual fauna or wildlife that might be encountered.

The hikes are arranged geographically in the book, from the Three Falls on Little Stony Creek in Southwest Virginia to the Great Falls of the Potomac in Northern Virginia, rather than alphabetically as in some guidebooks.  A "Finding the trailhead" section appear below each set of trail specs with driving directions and GPS coordinates.

The author's descriptions of the hikes are the most original and enlightening, such as this description of Rose River Falls in Shenandoah National Park:

"I'll never cease to be amazed at how what seems like a little forest stream burbling over rocks can turn into a stunner of a waterfall... Rose River is one of those. You're just hiking along, steadily downhill, enjoying the scenery, until you reach the precipice of the upper falls. As you take it in, realizing that the lower falls is crashing just downstream, all you can think is, 'Wow! How did that small stream turn into those two gorgeous, powerful falls?'"

Rose River Falls

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Great Falls, Virginia
The number of waterfalls you'll see at Great Falls varies depending on river level. In the summer, whene there hasn't been a storm to fill up the watershed, there are well over a dozen distinct falls. When the river is flooding, you'll see a crashing riot of whitewater across the width of the gorge, but no single falls. 

Dark Hallow Falls
When you reach the falls, you'll find a lovely series of cascades crashing onto and over granite outcroppins. It's the kind of falls that invites you to go exploring among those drops and boulders.