Located near Pembroke, Virginia, the Cascades Trail is an easy to moderate hike in the Jefferson National Forest that leads to an over 60-foot waterfall.
Parking is $3 as it is a national fee area. If there is no attendant, you put the money in an envelope and deposit it into a steel post. It is a very popular hike especially when Virginia Tech is in session, so there can be parking challenges.
It is a child-friendly hike, but bikes and horses aren’t allowed. Early parts of the trail are wheelchair-accessible.
The trail is a well used, easily identified, round-trip hike. It can be hiked in sneakers, but lightweight hiking boots are recommended.
We did not see wildlife on our trip. However, the area is most certainly populated with bears, snakes, and other mountain creatures.
Although the trail can be crowded, there was hardly anybody else on our hike. This is because Virginia Tech students were out for winter break and it was slightly raining.
The views on the trail were good, as the leaves had fallen. There were views of the valley that the stream runs through. You can hike on either side of the stream to the waterfall by crossing several bridges. The easiest path is to not cross the bridges, as it is more of a road then a trail.
There are many rhododendron groves, small caves, cliffs, and rocky outcroppings along the way.
At the falls, it was windy and wet. There were several platforms that made it easy and safe to view the falls. Halfway up the falls there is a platform and a path to the top. I would not recommend the path to the top of the falls, as it can be dangerous.
In the summer, students swim in the pool below the falls. Swim at your own risk, and diving is not recommended. Posted signs remind you that swimming below the falls is extremely dangerous due to the strong current and undertow. You should not swim here no matter how tempting it might be.
Cell phone coverage is hit and miss along the trail, but we were able to get cell and data from the visitor’s center. There are several small hotels in the nearby town of Pembrooke. If vacationing, you should highly consider booking a room at Mountain Lake Resort (location of the popular film Dirty Dancing.)
I went under duress with my dad and godfather. That being said, with me being much younger and agile, I went so far ahead that I barely heard them when my godfather said to stop.
I would not recommend this hike for people under 20. Although I’d do this hike again, it wasn’t my favorite.
Alltrails has more information about the Cascade Falls Hike at this link.