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Trails were iced over so it was very slippery. It is a beautiful trail but I had to quit right before the waterfall because I was terrified of the iced terrain where the path was thin and a fall would have been deadly. As it was I fell 3 times. Was really disappointed to not get to the waterfall but I felt it was not safe for me to go further.

Vanhook Falls trail along Pounder Branch is one of the most incredible and scenic trails in the state. This trail allows the hiker to see numerous waterfalls and walk a mostly level and easy to moderate trail. Vanhook Falls is a beautiful destination at around two and a half miles but beautiful cascades and waterfalls are abundant. I have taken this trip a half dozen times in the past couple of years and I never grow tired of the beauty. For a great display of water go in the winter or spring or after a good summer rain.

Had an amazing time hiking Old Rag. Did it with a group and the trip up and down totaled about 9 hours. Steady incline throughout until the last mile or so and you really being rock climbing. It was quite exhilarating sliding between boulders to get to the next part of the trail. The views at the top were like no other. I love Old Rag and look forward to going back soon!

One of those trails that you just have to see in person. It’s a long hike so do take some protein and water but well worth it! Low traffic so we enjoyed the trail to ourselves mostly.

hiking
5 days ago

Just done the loop portion of the trail. Falls was amazing as always! Didn’t go to arch as I have other destinations in store for the day.

Loved it!

Hiked this on 1/15/19. Cold day - 10F at bottom at start, with 15-25F mph wind forecast. Started up Falling Waters route based on advice. Due to previous cold weather the streams were low and not a factor. Waterfalls were frozen over in veils of ice, like bells - but neither of our phones worked due to cold temps, so no pictures. Hike to Little Haystack is challenging and steep, lots of switchbacks and was fully snow or ice covered. Off the packed part of trail in snowy areas you can post-hole up to mid-thigh. Ridge hike that day was tough - wind gusts to 50-60MPH or so and steady at 30-40, and hard to stay on trail! We pretty much flew through the ridge - very brutal and exposed in those conditions. We were layering up right below treeline on the way up and two hikers passed us. They came back 5 minutes lighter with wide eyes and started layering up!! Trail is very well marked along ridge - with rocks on either side or frequent cairns. After Lafayette on the way down we did have a little difficulty keeping track of the trail and got a little off the path for a while a couple times - be very careful. It was like being on the moon that day - above treeline was a whole different environment. Once we got below treeline on Bridle Path the hike down was quick and easy - clear and calm conditions. It took us 6 hours without much stopping - just snacks, water, etc. No time wasted on the Ridge Trail - so on a clear day with time for gawking I'd budget 7 hours. Micro spikes were essential and worn from lot to lot. Great hike, quite challenging - my dogs are barking today.

Loved it!

8 days ago

Strenuous but fun!

Very steep!!!! You’re basically scouring the cliff by using thin metal bars to help you up. If you’re bad with heights this is not the trail for you

This is an interesting trail with impressive views at the top. Camping is not allowed once you reach a certain elevation (closer to the top, and signs will be posted.) When you reach the trailhead, taking a left will put you through the most difficult half of the trail. The second half is much easier. It was a very beautiful place at the top of the mountain to see the watch the sunset and sunrise.

hiking
10 days ago

Lovely hike! I found it to be a bit easier than Flat Top, next door. Trail is in good condition (for now; snow storms this weekend will change that), despite the lapse in appropriations due to the government shutdown. I did, however, pick up a lot of litter. Please remember that even biodegradable items like citrus peels are trash on the trail. Check it out: https://lnt.org/about/faq/can-i-leave-biodegradable-waste-eg-apple-core-or-banana-peel-woods-long-i-hide-or-burry-it. If you have the energy, consider bringing a trash bag to pack out trash during the shutdown to minimize our impact on these great resources. Bathrooms are closed now, but the Blue Ridge Parkway approaching Peaks of Otter from the South is still open. The parkway is closed just North of this area. Be sure to check out Buzzard Roost while you're there; just a quick jaunt to your right once you reach the ridge (you might see this rock outcropping to your right on your ascent and think it's Sharp Top). Sharp Top itself has many "false summits," as you approach, but you'll know you're there when you see the building/signs. Excellent, unobstructed views. Highly recommended!

Stats (all including Buzzard Roost)
3.30 miles RT
1438 ft. elevation gain
1:30 hours RT

As others have said, this is also one of my all time favorite loops summer or winter.

Please take note that sometimes the streams on Falling waters trail can be very treacherous and sometimes raging so much that you cannot, or should not cross.

In the winter if you're planning on doing a loop, I would suggest starting up Falling waters so you can choose to turn around if the streams are too much. Either that or hike for 8+ miles up Bridal, down falling waters only to have to bushwack to the highway to get over the last stream and back to your car.

I hiked this about a month ago and stream crossings were not possible due to heavy snow/rain/melt so we went up and down bridal path which is not ideal but still fun.

This is one of my all-time favorite loops in New England, White Mountains. I approached from the Falling Waters/ Haystack side, walked the ridgeline over Lincoln, and Lafayette. Don't get half way to Garfield before realizing that the Greenleaf Hut Trail goes down the front face of Lafayette.

There are a couple of risky river crossings with minimal markings on the approach. Nice steady climb up with some steep stuff in the last 3/4 mile to Haystack. Once on the ridgeline, there no little to no cover as you are above the trees for the entire time your hiking over Lafayette and even .6 miles down the face. Winds can pick-up out of nowhere so be prepared for anything.

At the Greenleaf Hut going down, starts the gradual incline picking up to some steep sections .7-1.0 mile down. Near vertical rockfaces are frozen with ice in the winter so microspikes/ crampons are necessary in areas, during the winter. The rest of the movement down is at a moderate grade.

This trail is super fun in the winter, just be prepared. Its not easy, and anything can happen.

Hike along water almost the entire way! Beautiful!!

lovely day hike. did on 1/5/18. definitely watch out for the upper section of old bridle, super icy in a few spots. broke out my crampons for that. fantastic views. I did the loop clockwise, which i would reccomend, although I think it would be great either direction!

First time here on Jan 1. The falls and river after heavy rains, bouldering, and climb to the rim exceeded expectations. Old mining town ruins were an unexpected bonus. Will definitely be back.

Did this trail twice. First time was a mistake. I entered the horse trail, not the hiking trail. The horse trail is more than twice as long as the hiking trail. I had to turn around at one point just to make sure I got out of there before dark, because I didn't bring a lot of gear. When I finally went back and did the hiking trail, it was the hike of a lifetime. Its amazing. There are a few little campsites along the way and a very old small cemetery. One gravestone is in good condition and they apparently died in 1860. 10/10 would recommend.

I went to Old Rag twice I love the heights and big boulder and so much fun along the way. I will come back to it.

This is my favorite hike in Virginia (so far). It’s got amazing views and the rock scramble is so much fun! Bring enough water and take your time! The false summits have great views to rest at if you need them.

Heads up - the parking lot and the surrounding ~5 miles have no cell phone service. There is some sparse service at the summit. Try not to lose your car keys or anything

hiking
14 days ago

I went after tons of rain, and I’m so glad I did! It was super muddy from the cemetery to the falls, so I would definitely recommend at least one trekking pole.

Once you get to the creek and see the falls and think you can’t go any further, put on some water shoes, cross the river, and keep going up.

Took my 26 pound dog and he loved it.

What a nice surprise!

My GPS clocked 8.25 miles and I went all the way to the top of the falls.

14 days ago

Dog and I did 9-10 miles on the trail plus Sheltowee 100. Yesterday was sunny, 50s and beautiful. relatively dry aside from wet mud near water sources. Trail is wonderfully maintained. Thanks to all the volunteers yesterday who were keeping it so awesome.

hiking
14 days ago

Took my dog, Lacy, hiking here. We both liked it but she wouldn’t do the stairs

After a rain it was very muddy, but worth it! We had to go off trail a little to get around the mud. Several creek crossings and lots of little waterfalls along the way. Even with the government shutdown, the trail was clean. I was impressed with how green everything was in January! Seemed to be more like 3 -3.5 miles in. A beautiful trail for a variety of sights and challenges.

Brp still closed, but the walk there wasn't so bad from the barricaded gate. Nothing crazy hard, if I can do it, anyone can do it! My first ever view of a waterfall, very pretty for a first timer

This is a great trail especially when the water is up. Watching the kayakers on the way up. Some technical up to the falls. Simply beautiful

Fun day trip! Great scenery. Listened to other reviews and climbed the ledge at the pool and found the beginning of the falls. Well worth the climb.

We love this trail. Very muddy and slippery on the last mile to the falls tough climb back out. But overall an awesome hike we plan to return when dry
My GPS. Recorded 8 miles round trip and took 6 hrs spent about an hour at the falls.

This is a beautiful hike! Like others, recommend going after a good rain, but be prepared for lots of mud! Lots of waterfalls to see along the trail before getting to the main one. When you get to it, there is a bench for viewing. You can go below the stairs to reach the waterfall itself and go behind it! If you get to the bench and go to the top of the stairs, it continues along a trail and to another creek crossing. At that point I stopped and turned around, cause I did not know where that trail led and I have a terrible track record of getting lost haha. I brought my dog and saw several other people with theirs also. Trail is not clearly marked, but a path is worn down. Just make sure to keep close to it, if not, follow the creek!

One of the best in the SE!

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