Four-Mile LoopThe Cascades in southwestern Virginia, so she started asking me if I'd like to go hike to them. I never need an excuse to go to our southern high country. I had been to the falls before--twenty-eight years before. But, no prodding was needed.
Southwestern Virginia is one of our favorite vacation spots. The outdoors activities there have kept us busy for years, and there's enough that we haven't seen to keep us busy in that area for many more years. It's home to Virginia's highest peaks and some of its most diverse topography and habitats. There aren't many places in the eastern USA that can compete with it for beauty and recreation opportunities.
We were surprised at how quickly we were able to drive to Blacksburg,
Next morning we got up early, grabbed breakfast at the hotel, checked out and drove to the trail head which was about a twenty-mile drive. When we got to the Cascades Day Use area the parking lot was largely empty and we had our pick of spots to park the truck. At roughly 9:30 am we started our hike.
The National Forest Service has developed a nice four-mile loop accessing The Cascades. We chose to take the eastern trail up to the falls, opting for the western side for the return trip. The eastern trail is the most scenic of the two sides of the loop, hugging the shores of Stony Creek. Along the way there are many smaller waterfalls and cascades.
The trail is also highly engineered. Some of it is paved with native rock, and where the slopes are steep there are stairs also composed of small local boulders, and fine bridges allow access from one side of the creek to the other. It makes for a pleasant stroll for all ages and just about any physical condition short of disabled.
At the middle of the four-mile loop you come to The Cascades. These falls
We had lunch on a rock in the middle of Stony Creek, with a great view looking up at the falls. By about one o'clock the crowds began to arrive in earnest and soon the spot was packed with people. Literally hundreds of them. We stayed for a while, swimming, wading, taking photos, and people watching. But after a while the crowds got to be a bit much and we headed back down, choosing the western side of the loop to return.
This part of the walk is pleasant, and not nearly as scenic as the other side. But there's plenty to keep you occupied taking photos. It was on this side that we saw the only wildlife on the hike--a groundhog picking its way carefully around a boulder so that it could duck into one of its dens.
All things considered, we had a great time and it was good to visit The Cascades again after twenty-eight years.