Friday, May 11, 2012

Jefferson National Forest, VA - Cascades and Barney's Wall

Cascades Day Use Area - USDA Forest Service
Cascade Falls - Giles County, Virginia

GPS Coordinates 37.353838,-80.598986

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Looking back at the parking lot from the trail head next to the restroom building.
On the way in, just before the parking lot, pull off to the right to self pay the extremely reasonable $3 parking fee.  If you don't pay, the fine is $75.

Picture of the map at the trail head.  I drew in the continuation to the Upper Falls and Barney's Wall
Click here for a map that shows more of the trails in the area.

HIKE DISTANCE:  8.3 miles (Cascades Trails only - 4 miles)

Start the hike to the right of the restroom building at the far end of the parking lot.
Trail Entrance
The trail follows along the left side of Little Stony Creek.
At the first bridge, the trails split.  The Upper Cascades Trail (return route) continues straight ahead.  Turn right and cross the bridge to the other side of Little Stony Creek for the Lower Cascades Trail.
Lovely small cascades all along Little Stony Creek.
A lot of old stonework and steps along the way.  The second bridge leads back to the other side of Little Stony Creek, still on the Lower Falls Trail.  The Upper Falls Trail is now at a higher elevation and can be reached via short connector trails to the left if the hike needs to be cut short.
Trail signs are etched in stone.  This is the half way point to the falls.
More old steps leading up to the falls.
At the end, the Cascades.  The wooden steps on the left lead to an observation deck by turning right part of the way up the steps, or left to the Upper Cascades Trail and the continuation to the Upper Falls and Barney's Wall.
Taking the left branch of the steps, ascend to an intersection where the Upper Cascades Trail is to the left for the 4 mile hike, or turn right to continue on to Barney's Wall. 
Just before reaching the Conservancy Trail, a short side trail to the right leads to the upper falls.
Although it takes a few different trails to reach Barney's Wall, they are all blazed yellow so instead of the blazes denoting individual trails, the yellow blazes lead the way to Barney's Wall.  It is a relentless ascent until the trail finally levels out at the top.
View from Barney's Wall.
Rocks at Barney's Wall make a nice break spot.
Returning on the Upper Falls Trail.

[0.00]    Start on the unblazed trail to right of restroom at far end of parking lot
[0.20]    Turn right and cross bridge (Upper Cascades Trail continues straight not crossing the bridge)
[1.05]    Cross second bridge and turn right; connector trail from Upper Cascades Trail joins in from the left
[1.40]    Cross bridge running parallel to creek
[1.70]    Cross bridge running parallel to creek
[2.15]    Arrive at lower cascades; go up wooden steps and at t-intersection turn right to observation deck; retrace
[2.20]    Coming from observation deck continue straight when steps to the left lead back down to the Lower Cascades Trail
[2.30]    At clearing turn right on fire road towards Conservancy Trail and Barney's Wall  (For a 4 mile hike, turn left on fire road which is the Upper Cascades Trail back to the parking lot.)
[2.70]    Continue on fire road as it turns left, unmarked trail leaves to the right (short trail with no view)
[2.75]    Turn right on unmarked trail leaving fire road, switchback down to upper falls
[2.85]    Upper falls; retrace
[2.95]    Turn right to continue on fire road short distance then turn left on yellow-blazed Conservancy Trail
[3.40]    Go through rhododendron tunnel and rock hop creek
[4.10]    Turn left at intersection on Barney's Wall Trail (still blazed yellow) when Conservancy Trail goes right
[4.40]    At circle keep right and turn right on first trail before fire pit, descent to Barney's Wall (trail blazed yellow but blazes not visible until on the trail)
[4.50]    Barney's Wall; retrace
[4.60]    Turn left at circle then left on Barney's Wall Trail
[4.90]    Turn right on the Conservancy Trail at intersection
[5.60]    Go through rhododendron tunnel and rock hop creek
[6.10]    Turn right at intersection on fire road towards Cascades Trail
[6.50]    Keep straight on fire road which is now the Upper Trail
[6.70]    Keep straight when trail to left connects to Lower Trail
[7.25]    Keep straight when trail to left connects to Lower Trail
[8.10]    Keep straight at bridge
[8.30]    Back at parking lot


  1. I had a very hard time getting up the mountain to see the waterfall and why don't they have trams for people who are disable to ride on to get to the waterfall, just like pipestem has tram for people to down the mountain. Its unfair for disable people who can't walk up there. The picture is beautiful, I'm not able to go back again :(

  2. Thank you so much... i didnt have the knowledge in this now i get an idea about this.. thks a lot


  3. How long did it take you to hike to Barney's Wall and back?

    1. Sorry, but I don't remember. I don't track time because I pay no attention to time while I am hiking and everyone hikes at their own pace. If you know your average speed, you can figure it out based on the mileage.