Monday, November 9, 2009

Cascade Falls and Mountain Lake

Day 3 and 4 of our Weekend Getaway

Cascade Falls and Mountain Lake
Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Photos are posted here:

As a student at Virginia Tech I did the hike to Cascade Falls several times. I remembered it being an awesome waterfall, but it’s been well over 10 years since my last visit. Therefore, the one sight I knew I had to check out on this trip was Cascade Falls (aka “The Cascades”).

After another awesome breakfast at the Huffman House Bed and Breakfast, Amy and I headed up the road to Pembroke, VA and the Cascade Falls Trailhead.

It’s a moderate 4-mile round trip hike (2 miles each way) alongside the very pretty Little Stony Creek. Even without the waterfall, it would still be a great hike. Endless cascades and small waterfalls can be viewed just about the entire hike.

Cascades along Little Stony Creek
Cascade Falls turns out to be even more spectacular than I remembered it! A beautiful 70-ft falls cascading into one of the greatest swimming holes anywhere! Every waterfall lover should add this one to their must do list!

Jack and Amy at Cascade Falls

The only problem with Cascade Falls is that it is a very popular place! We got an early enough start that we had the waterfall to ourselves for a few minutes before the crowds started to arrive. Before long there were probably around 20 people at the falls.

In the summertime this is a great place to check out bikini clad college girls swimming and sunning themselves on the rocks! Today was too cold for any bikini viewing, so I saw no reason to stick around any longer.

The return hike was much easier since it was almost all downhill. Here is a bit more detail about the hike and how to get there:

After our hike we stopped for lunch at a gas station restaurant in Pembroke. While enjoying a club sandwich, the rain started falling outside.

Another nearby place I wanted to re-visit was Mountain Lake.

Amy in front of the Mountain Lake Hotel

A winding road leads about 8 miles up the mountain and ends at the Mountain Lake Hotel sitting above the scenic Mountain Lake. At least it used to be a scenic Mountain Lake.

The severe drought over the past few years caused the lake to completely dry up in 2008. Even with a fairly wet year, Mountain Lake still sits at 36’ below full pool.

Mountain Lake - Way below Full Pool

Maybe it was the dreary rain and fog, or maybe it was the nearly empty lake, but this place just did not seem as nice as I remembered. I did decide that since I’m here, I might as well get a hike in, while Amy explored the gift shops.

The steady rain had let off a bit to just a light misty drizzle, so I headed on up the trail to Bald Knob. It’s a little less than a mile with a steady climb all the way making for a good little workout. Supposedly there are some nice views up top, but for today all I saw was a fogged in mountain top!

A Foggy Balk Knob

We made several stops on the drive down to mountain to check out some of the roadside views.

View from Mountain Lake Road
We also checked out a couple of the covered bridges near the Bed and Breakfast before dinner.

Covered Bridge

One of my favorite places to eat during my years at Virginia Tech was Mike’s Grill. A lot has changed in Blacksburg over the years, but Mike’s is still there in the same location offering up giant burgers, calzones, and excellent pizza! The calzone we ordered was just and good and even bigger than I remember them being!

After dinner we took a nice long walk around Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech Campus. I regretted not carrying my tri-pod around with me, because the Virginia Tech offers a lot of good spots for night time photography. However, even without my tri-pod, I was still able to snap a few decent shots.

Virginia Tech

The next morning after our final awesome breakfast of the weekend, we said our goodbyes to Ron and Carol, packed up the truck, visited with the Turkeys one last time and hit the road.

I had a couple other potential places in my mind to stop off and visit on the drive back, but a steady rain helped make up my mind to skip it and just head on home. Ironically our last stop was in Blacksburg.

Blacksburg, SC that is, to fill up the tank and get a photo to post on my website.

The 2009 Hess Collectable comes out on Friday, November 13th at which time my little side business becomes a 2nd full time job for about 2 months! Therefore, this might be my last trip report for a while!

It was great to have this little weekend getaway before the madness of Hess Truck Season begins!

Additional Photos from Day 3 and 4 of our weekend getaway are located here:


HemlockMan said...

Good luck on this year's Hess Truck season!

Mountain Lake did not dry up because of the drought. It periodically empties out when the biological plug in the bottom of the lake rots out and allows the water to flow through and empty out the shallow valley in which it lies. When the leaves and such manage to re-plug the outlet, the lake refills. It took a long time before geologists could figure out how and why the lake even existed. Turns out it's nothing but a glorified bath tub!

There's a good technical article about the ebbs and flows of the lake online, but I've managed to lose the link. It's pretty interesting stuff, though. For a long time they thought the lake had been created by a landslide at the lower end of the lake, but it turns out that's not the case.

Great photos! As always!

Shenandoah bed and breakfast said...

Mountain Lake is located in Giles County near Pembroke, Virginia, in the United States. It is one of only two natural freshwater lakes in Virginia (the other being Lake Drummond in the Great Dismal Swamp).