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Joined: 10 Dec 2007
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Crabtree Falls and Spy Rock
George Washington National Forest, Virginia (Mar/11/2023)
Admiring a spectacular series of waterfalls collectively known as Crabtree Falls, which drop 1080ft over the span of approximately 2500ft horizontally, followed by a ramble along the Appalachian Trail to a rocky perch in the sky was my hike for this weekend. I left Pittsburgh for the Crabtree Falls trailhead at 1:15am. The first half of the drive was slower than expected due to snowy conditions, but as I drove eastwards it cleared up. Eventually, I arrived at the large but empty parking lot at 6:45am. 15min later I was on my way.
A short 0.1mi walk got me to the base of the lowermost falls, after which things steepened considerably. I rose around 1,400ft over the next 1.8mi, sometimes climbing up wooden staircases bolted into steep down-sloping rock, and sometimes swinging away from and then back to Crabtree Falls in long switchbacks. Photographing Crabtree Falls was quite difficult because of the steepness, and close proximity of the shooting locations; this series of waterfalls is one that's much better to take mental snapshots of.
After Crabtree Falls, the trail mellowed considerably for the next 1.3mi as I made my way through peaceful, wooded Crabtree Meadows to the upper trailhead. I took a left here and climbed up to the Appalachian Trail. At the junction with the AT I headed right. The next 3.5mi were an up and down ramble, which culminated in a final short climb onto Spy Rock. This was a rocky dome, that sat like a crown atop a hill on the eastern slopes of Maintop Mountain. It was a fantastic spot: 360° views of yummy mid-Atlantic mountain scenery, enjoyed from atop a gorgeous rocky surface, studded with iced-in potholes. I spent 50min there, just taking pictures, and still didn't want to leave.
The way back was quick because I (mostly) put the camera away. Thankfully, I only had a 2hr drive to Richmond, and not another 5.5hrs back to Pittsburgh!
Stats: 14.8mi, 3700ft elevation gain, 8hrs
Addendum: While doing some clean-up of the scene prior to a photograph, I slipped on a rock and was soon on all fours in the middle of a knee-deep stream. Despite my calf-high gaiters I ended up with waterlogged boots and wet sleeves. Even though I wrung out most of the water from my socks, Gore-Tex lined boots are pretty good at holding water once it's got inside the boots. So, for the next 13mi I hiked with wet feet, and boy, did they stink once I switched out of my footwear after the hike. (Note: Here's where modern hiking socks are so good. After the first hour I was no longer uncomfortable.) Also, at one point I noticed that my wet sleeves had frozen in the cold and windy conditions; thankfully these dried out later on in the hike. Character-building stuff.
5- Pretty self evident why 29 people have lost their lives at Crabtree Falls
7- The spectacular uppermost section
8- The view from atop the uppermost falls
'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Matt, John Mac, RichP, awilsondc