Friday, May 4, 2018

Crabtree Falls, VA (1600-2600')

I must say, Crabtree Falls lives up to its hype.

If you live--or have lived, as in my case--anywhere in the vicinity of central Virginia, you've most likely heard of Crabtree Falls. It's right up there with Whiteoak Canyon and the Cascades on the list of classic Virginia waterfall hikes. On summer afternoons, especially in laurel-blooming season, folks flock to it from all over the state, braving crowds and splinters and scraped knees for the chance to glimpse the 1000-foot falls--the highest* east of the Mississippi--in all its crystalline, rock-slicking glory.

Fortunately, the (commodious) parking lot was almost empty when I arrived that April afternoon. I paid the $3 entrance fee, took my pick of parking spots, and headed up to the trailhead.

The first stretch of the trail was paved--universally accessible, as the sign at the base explained. Here, as elsewhere along the hike, big orange signs warned against careless scrambling:

"Now I'm never gonna climb again/slippery feet have got no traction..."

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Priest, VA (4063')

A couple of weeks ago, I drove south to hike a mountain called The Priest, a 4000-footer in the Blue Ridge a few dozen miles south of Shenandoah National Park (and the high point of Nelson County). The drive down, through Charlottesville on US-29, was a little awkward--they've built up the area north of town so much, over the past few years, that I could barely tell where I was going. But once I turned off the highway and onto the country roads and found myself face to face with this beauty:


I knew I'd made the right decision to come out.

That particular road, VA-56, took me right into the gap north of The Priest, carved by a little river called the Tye. The hills rose up around me, the houses and fields drew in towards the road, and then, a couple miles into the George Washington National Forest, the trailhead lot appeared to my left.