Monday, 15 February 2016

Cascades Waterfall: Jefferson National Forest, VA

In case you can't tell I love waterfalls. I think they are incredible and like that they add a destination to a hike. After running the Adam and Eve Half Marathon on Sunday (it went well will post about it later) we started to make our way home but rather than take the most direct route we went home a different way so we could take a break for a hike and see what is meant to be one of the best waterfalls in Virginia.

We made out way westward from a very cold Charlottesville to Jefferson National Forest. The further we drove the icier the roads looked and the last stretch had snow lining the roads....gulp I've driven more in the south of the US than in Ireland so my experience driving on ice or snow is not so extensive. However, other than the last 5 miles I think all the roads were salted so it was fine.

There are two trails to get to the falls, a lower trail that follows the river and an upper that climbs up so you can see the valley. The lower trail description said there were some obstacles so we went with the upper as I didn't want to fall on my ass. The upper is an approximately 2 mile hike upwards. 
For most of it we were like two kids (three including Boomer) playing with the snow and marveling at the ice formations. Eventually my energy died a little and it was up to Boomer to give me a little pull up the hill. Maybe I should have eaten more than a piece of lemon cake and coffee after the race! Surprisingly we were not the only crazies out hiking when it was 19F, there were a lot of people and dogs out. So imagine how popular this trail must be in the summer.

Parts of the trail were lined with what I think might be rhododendrons. It'd probably be a beautiful hike when they are in bloom. Eventually we made it to Cascade Falls. The falls drop over cliffs into a huge pool at the bottom. They were absolutely beautiful partially frozen. 

They way back down was a lot easier we just had to take it easy because neither of us thought to take hiking shoes (my Brooks runners have zero grip). Even being careful we both took a fall. Martina landed  on her back and of course I couldn't stop myself laughing (I'm so mean) but she got payback when I fell myself...but Boomer kind of broke my fall. The poor dog was so offended that I partially fell on him.

We made it back down and as we were starting to drive snow started. We drove a little ways and we were both so hungry that when we took a wrong turn into a McDonald's we stopped there for food (breakfast sandwiches minus the meat). As we ate the snow started to get stronger. We ended up driving through a storm for over 2 hours. I now have lots of snow driving experience. We slid once changing lanes but other than it being exhausting having to concentrate so hard it wasn't bad. I did see someone being towed after sliding into a pole but some people were driving like it was a sunny day so I'm not too surprised.
 About two hours from home we emerged from the snow storm safely. It was nice to drive more than 40mph on a highway and we made it back around 10pm. Boomer tired from the hiking and meeting his many admirers slept the whole way home. What an adventure. I've had such a good weekend wine tasting, running and hiking but man am I tired. I think today will be a rest day.

I'd 100% recommend Cascade Falls as a hike if you are in the area it was amazing. I think summer or winter it would be worth the journey.


  1. It looks so beautiful frozen! Do you think you'll go back in the summer? I am surprised there were others on the trail, too! It must be really popular!

    Hope you both feel okay from your falls ;)

    1. It was really pretty the whole hike was but I don't think we'd go and redo this exact hike...too many places to see. We might go back to the general area and camp for a long weekend. My age group prize was 15% off another race with the same company in Charlottesville so depending on what my fall calendar looks like we might go then.
      We are both fine and so is poor Boomer lol.