Cascades National Recreation Trail to Barney's Wall

MODERATE 134 reviews
#8 of 88 trails in

Cascades National Recreation Trail to Barney's Wall is a 7.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Pembroke, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and fly fishing and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 7.4 miles Elevation Gain: 1,722 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly







wild flowers



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.

1 month ago

Feels much shorter than 12 miles. Very easy hike

3 months ago

Tranquil... train never disappoints.

8 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.

Fri Sep 14 2018

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

Wed Aug 15 2018

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

Tue Aug 14 2018

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.

Fri Jul 06 2018

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.

Sat Jun 30 2018

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.

Sun 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.

Wed Feb 28 2018

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

Mon Jan 08 2018

Great winter hike with frozen waterfalls. Beautiful!

Thu Dec 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.

Mon Oct 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.

Sun Oct 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.

Sun Oct 08 2017

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

Sat Sep 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

Tue Jul 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)

Mon Jul 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.

Sun Jul 16 2017

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

Sat Jul 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.

Tue Jul 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.

Mon Jul 03 2017

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

Sat Jun 24 2017

Great hike and beautiful waterfall ❤️.

Tue 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.

Tue 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.

Mon May 15 2017

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

Mon Feb 06 2017

Great trail not challenging. Very beautiful.

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