McDowell County, NC
Friday, June 3rd, 2011
For my final stop along the way to the Grandfather Mountain Nature Photography Weekend I decided on Crabtree Falls. With all the Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron blooming along the Blue Ridge Parkway, I had hoped to capture this spectacular waterfall with some blooms along side.
The Crabtree Falls Trailhead is located inside the Crabtree Falls Campground at Blue Ridge Parkway Mile Marker 339.
The Crabtree Falls Trailhead
The trail forms a loop which I would recommend doing counter clockwise. It is all downhill for the first 0.9 miles to the base of the waterfall. Along the trail I saw the most spectacular display of Mountain Laurel blooms I have ever seen.
Butterfly on some Mountain Laurel
Unfortunately, there was nothing blooming alongside the waterfall, but it is still an awesome sight. Crabtree Falls is a steep cascading type waterfall of about 80-feet high. The clouds earlier in the day were all gone so I was left with full mid-afternoon sunlight. I definitely would have preferred some cloud cover, but my photos came out OK even with the bright sun.
There are virtually unlimited angles to view, compose, and photograph this waterfall. Since I had the place to myself, I spent a good bit of time photographing it from many angles.
Iggy even decided to make his only appearance of the weekend.
Iggy at Crabtree Falls
Eventually, some other people arrived which was my cue to continue on. However, I did snap one hand held shot with people in it to give a sense of scale.
Crabtree Falls with people (lower right) for a sense of scale
If you are looking for the shortest hike, you can just return the way you came for a 1.8-mile round trip hike. However, the hike back is very steep! I would recommend a slightly longer, but less steep return by continuing on the loop for a total hike of about 2.5 miles.
The trail climbs to a nice view point near the top of the falls and then joins the creek further upstream. There are several much smaller cascades upstream, but none that are very photogenic. However, the awesome display of Mountain Laurel continued throughout the remainder of the hike!
Mountain Laurel along the Crabtree Falls Trail
After completing the hike, I roamed around the campground and determined that this is definitely a spot I would consider for a weekend camping trip sometime!
Additional Photos are posted here: