Finding Magic Stones at Crabtree Falls (the tallest waterfall in VA)

"Relaxation is the stepping-stone to serenity."

"People will always throw stones in your path. Now it is DEPENDS on YOU what you will make from it, a wall or a bridge?"

Recently, we wandered as a family to Nelson County to spend the day exploring Crabtree Falls, the tallest waterfall in Virginia. My husband's most favorite place to be is in the mountains, so off we went in search of serenity and nature's beauty. What we were surprised to find were some magical stones along the way.

Crabtree Falls, the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River, is located in Nelson County, just six miles off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 27.

Crabtree Falls features a stunning series of five major cascades and a number of smaller ones that fall a total distance of 1,200 feet. The first overlook is just a few hundred feet from the parking lot along a gentle, paved trail making it an excellent stopover for travelers of all ages and abilities. The more adventuresome hiker may continue along the 1.7-mile trail, with stairs and rocks and such to traverse, to four other overlooks offering spectacular views of the Crabtree Creek Falls and lovely vistas of the Tye River Valley. There are lots of switchbacks and stairs to manage the steep incline, but lots of spots to stop and rest. (Wear good shoes and brings lots of water!)

(On a fun note, Crabtree Falls is also famous for its connection to the well-known television show "The Waltons." The falls were not shown on television, but the name was referred to several times during the life of the program, usually in reference to a Sunday outing.)

While hiking, we stopped and chatted with two campers who were hiking through the Falls on their way to the Appalacian Trail. They shared that in the middle of the night while they were camping by the Falls, they were stalked by a mountian lion and had to hide in small cave and use fire to scare it off. I am sure that those campers will never forget Crabtree Falls!

Now for the magical stones... Along the trail if you look closely, you'll see all kinds of mushrooms, bugs, lichen, moss, birds, and butterflies. It is breath-taking. As we hiked, we started noticing, on occasion, small stacked stone sculptures, or Cairn. They were placed on tree stumps, in streams, on rock ledges, etc. It became a bit of a game for us to seek and find them and it truly added a magical and mystical element to the hike.

A cairn is a man-made pile (or stack) of stones. The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn (plural càirn). Cairns are used as trail markers in many parts of the world, in uplands, on moorland, on mountaintops, near waterways and on sea cliffs, as well as in barren deserts and tundra. They vary in size from small stone markers to entire artificial hills, and in complexity from loose conical rock piles to delicately balanced sculptures and elaborate feats of megalithic engineering.

Imagine our surprise when we came around a turn to find about 100 of them stacked together on a lage flat rock face. The kids of course wanted be a part of this outdoor art display and each promptly built their own scuplture to add to the lot. (Scroll down to the bottom to see pics!)

We continued on to the summit of the Falls, which yielded some of the most spectaular views of the Blue Ridge moutainsides below. The views were well-worth the hike!

Tips: * There is a $3 Day Use Fee (per vehicle) and you leave the money in an envelope.

It took us about 1.5 hours to hike up and about 45 minutes down. * CF is located in the George Washington National Forest (fs.usda.gov/gwj). * Do remember that the rocks are extremely slippery; 23 people have died while ignoring warningn signs/climbing off trail, so stay on the trail and you will be fine.

** Hiking works up an appetite and a thirst. Lucky for us, Nelson County is also home to the "BREW Ridge Trail," where a series of micro-breweries, wineries and hard cider companies have setup shop. We stopped for an early dinner at the Blue Moutain Brewery. It was a great way to end the day!

Want to learn more about stacked rock sculpture? Here is a cool blog below!

http://twistedsifter.com/2013/01/rock-balancing-art-by-michael-grab/


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