Cascades National Recreation Trail to Barney's Wall

MODERATE 114 reviews

Cascades National Recreation Trail to Barney's Wall is a 12.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Pembroke, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 12.1 miles Elevation Gain: 2,795 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly



nature trips


bird watching





wild flowers




washed out

The Cascades National Recreation Trail is a highly scenic, easy to moderate 4 or 5 mile out and back round-trip trail features a shaded mountain creek to a 66-foot waterfall within Jefferson National Forest. Cascades National Recreation Trail is a highly scenic, easy to moderate 4 or 5 mile out and back round-trip trail featuring a shaded mountain creek to primarily a cascading waterfall within Jefferson National Forest. Near Pembroke in Southwest VA, the hike up the lower trail travels 2 miles along Little Stony Creek before reaching the 66 lower falls and in another half-mile the Upper Cascades. Travel uphill another 2 miles and reach a view of the New River Valley from 700 cliffs at Barneys Wall (8 mile RT and 1600 elevation gain). The trail begins to the right of the bathroom and Information Center at the far end of the Cascades parking lot. Go across the first bridge and take the lower trail as it is the more scenic route. If you want, you can return on the upper trail to get a different view of the creek. The lower trail travels alongside the creek for a mile before reaching the second bridge and rejoining the upper trail. From the 2nd bridge to the lower falls is another mile. The lower falls is a turn-around point or you can continue to the Upper Cascades and/or Barneys Wall. To continue to the Upper Cascades and Barneys Wall, head up the wooden stairs to the left opposite the falls observation deck. In about 200 yards reach an open area with a sign post showing the Conservancy Trail, a 0.4 mile fire road. At the fork in the road bear left and take another left in about 50 yards at the Conservancy Trail sign post. This trail is Yellow-blazed and crosses a small creek and reaches the Barneys Wall intersection on the left in 1.1 miles. The trail to Barneys Wall is also yellow-blazed and passes through a few stands of Hemlocks, and just before the cliffs take the trail past the campsite to the right. Barneys Wall features a view of the New River Valley looking towards Blacksburg. If you take the right at the fork exactly one half mile above the lower falls there is an unmarked but well established path that leads downhill to the Upper Cascades located about a tenth of a mile down the hill.

2 months ago

I want to try the Barney's wall but I have already done both Trails up and back they were pretty nice with the family.

9 months ago

Just wonderful. Take the lower trail if it's open!

10 months ago

Absolutely beautiful hike and location. This was my first hike in Virginia and it did not disappoint

10 months ago

Our hike was cut short because of the ever fickle recent August weather. I still managed to enjoy and take beautiful photos though. My friend who goes to VTech recommended this place and I was sold immediately after I saw the photos she took this past winter season. Will definitely come back to finish the hike and see the frozen falls next year.

11 months ago

We had a wonderful hike. We hiked on a Sunday afternoon so it was a little crowded. Overall nice hike for the family 16, 10, 8. Beautiful falls and fun swimming for the kids.

11 months ago

I used this hike to test myself and my gear prior to hiking on the Appalachian Trail. It turned out to be a nice moderate walk. I still got winded. I am after all 66 years old. However, I've tried hard over the winter to get into shape. So far my knees of held up and I'm grateful. for that. I think. the view from Barney's wall is spectacular. It is great to watch the hawks soar down below. It's gorgeous.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Great beautiful 4 mile hike along the river. There is a upper and lower section of the falls. Lower is more narrow and adventurous and the higher is wider and straight shot.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

done this hike. great view at Barneys Wall and the fire tower.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Great winter hike with frozen waterfalls. Beautiful!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Signs indicated that the lower trail might be impassable due to washouts, but we ascended it anyway. It was clear, though somewhat strenuous. (I'm a senior and recovering from surgery and extended hospitalization.) We took the broader upper trail out. The scenery was lovely. The few other hikers were friendly. Access to the upper observation deck was closed due to icy conditions. Signage was good and clear. Amenities at the parking area were in good condition. Restrooms were clean. I'd recommend this trail to anyone.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A wonderful experience. After you pass the Cascades there are very few people on the trail. Plenty of places to rest and an amazing view at the top.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Scenic hike with beautiful mini falls and huge boulders along the way. Cascade Falls is beautiful and refreshing. Definitely one of my favorites.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Had a blast walking and taking pictures of the scenery and wildlife. Loved talking to different people on the hike.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Great hike on a beautiful fall day. Followed Little Stoney to the falls. Only 3 other people there at10:45am. Continued my hike up to Barney's Wall, hiking trail was well maintained and good signage to keep a person heading to their objective. Outstanding views at the top, had the Wall to myself, ate lunch, rested and watched a red tail hawk float on the up drafts. Back down met a few people going to Barney's Wall. I took the fire road down from the Cascades. Passed crowds and crowds heading to the falls. Advice, get your but out of bed and go early. Can't wait to come back to Barney's Wall, and will bring some of my children, spouses, and grandchildren. Mike Furey

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Amazing, vibrant trail! Coming back from the falls at the top of the stairs take the right if you want to trail run back (it's a broader easier path)

Monday, July 17, 2017

I haven't been hiking in a long time, so I was a bit worn out. Once I got to the waterfalls though, it was worth every moment. Beautiful place and the other visitors were friendly which is always a plus.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Loved it..the creek next to the trail..hearing the water running...and you can choose hard or easy route

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The hike to the Cascades is easy but if you continue up to Barney's Wall it is moderate-hard. I'm a 35 year old female with no health conditions, not overweight and don't smoke. I hike & backpack 15+ times per year. At the beginning of the trail there's two paths. To the left is the "fire road" but we crossed the bridge over the stream that takes the trail to the right of the run off from the waterfall. The foliage over head was nice. The winding and narrow trail with rocks jutting out made it easy for me to trip a lot because I love to look at the view haha Our dogs enjoyed getting their bellies wet in the ice cold stream. After we passed the cascades we then ascended up the trail to the left of the waterfall, climbing the switchback stairs to a crossroads. At the sign the trail splits; to the right, the path continues to a view looking down from above the cascade waterfall. To the left, Barney's wall. We pushed up the trail to Barney's wall and once we arrived we dumped out our lunch and sat eyes fixed on the sprawling hills and valleys. Then we stretched out on the rock and took a mini nap. We then headed down the trail. When we got back to the sign where the trail splits we took the "fire road" down to the right. It's a wide and easy road but it hurt my hips because the rocks are large and rolled under my feet. I wish I had my hiking poles with me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Great hike if you want something quick with an awesome view. Go in the off season when students are out of town and you'll enjoy your experience much more.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Nice hike, elevation gets to you on your way up to Barney's Wall but worth the view, bring plenty of water

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Great hike and beautiful waterfall ❤️.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ascended via the lower trail, more technical of the two trails but great views of the creek. Very crowded but no rudeness was encountered. Visited another water fall around ½ mile past the Cascades worth the stop. The views from Barney’s Wall was amazing. Descended via the upper trail, easier but had some great rock formations to observe.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Beautiful trail, although I wouldn't say it was easy. The trail is pretty rocky, when we went it was really muddy and the rocks were extremely slick. However it was one of the prettiest hikes I've been on in the east coast, to many waterfalls to count.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Great trip! Lower trail way more intensive than the upper and a little longer. Choose wisely.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Great trail not challenging. Very beautiful.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

This is an excellent hike and was a great experience. The only real negative was the woman working the parking lot as we entered. We arrived for an afternoon hike. She approached us, started telling us all about her life, where she worked, that she has C.O.P.D because of where she worked.......on and on and on and on. Then she proceeded to tell us that dawn was at 7:15 and that we better have ourselves out of there by then. I said "we'll do out best" and she said "no, you will, our your car will be towed". Following that statement she began explaining how what she said wasn't a threat. For the love of god, can you please just not give the speech to people in their mid 40s that you do to college kids? What a downer she is for that place. Prepare for her if you are headed there. The first two miles are extremely scenic, very well kept and end with the Cascade, which is so beautiful. If you are going on the next two miles to Barney's Wall, know that it's a different hike. The entire parking lot was full today and we were the only ones that went to the Wall, which we loved. Not sure about the categorization of "beginner" for the second 2 miles. There's a stretch for about 3/4 of a mile where it's straight up hill and pretty brutal. Pretty brutal if you're pushing yourselves like we like to do. We made the 4.25 hike up to the wall in an hour and 45 minutes. When you get there, it's like the heavens open up and a choir starts singing. It's more of an OH MY GOD moment than we even had at McAfee's Knob. It's completely and totally stunning. Opposed to the Knob hike, this trip back down is almost completely downhill. We finished it in an hour and 25 minutes. We spent nearly an hour at the Wall. At McAfee's Knob your photo opportunities are easy and endless. I recommend going there if that's what you're going for. In my opinion, you need to put yourself in pretty serious danger to get the best photo op at Barney's. Just a warning. 4 stars with 1 star removed for the woman at the gate.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Amazing adventure! I've hiked to the cascades numerous time but have never been to Barneys Wall! All I can say the WOW! Amazing views and super relaxing journey. The hike up is difficult but completely worth it and totally doable at your own pace! Barneys Wall is an absolute must see!

Sunday, September 04, 2016

This 5 star is for Barney's Wall! I rated the Cascades a 4 because of the insane amount of people but I'm so glad we decided to hike the extra 2 miles beyond the waterfall to Barney's Wall! It was really isolated. We only ran into a couple of groups. It was almost a bit creepy for me as I feared bears but nothing like that happened. The wall was a real treat with an incredible view. Worth the extra 4 miles round trip!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Great trail. I would rate as moderate and not easy. However there are benches several places along the trail to rest. The large waterfall is 2 miles up and took over an hour to reach. Lots of people there especially on the weekends. There is another smaller waterfall about 3/4 mile farther than first one. This one is not marked on signage and few people go there.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Being able to swim at the top was great after a hot hike!

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