Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hiking at the Cascades

The Cascades in Pembroke Virginia is one of our favorite places to hike in the spring. We have come almost every year since moving to Virginia. Although the hike itself is absolutely breathtaking no matter when you visit, i love to come in the early spring when the early wildflowers are blooming.
The Cascades are most known for the incredibly beautiful scenic hike and spectacular 70 foot water fall. We'd heard there were more fall farther up the trail, but have never hiked to them. So this time we decided to check them out.

The main trail to the falls splits into two separate trails. The lower trails, are what we usually take. They are the most scenic, but also a little more strenuous. The upper trails are an easier hike, but the view is not quite as nice. However, because we wanted to hike the extra to get to the upper falls, we decided to take the easier upper trail there, and the lower trail back if we felt up to it.

The upper trails are not really advertised. Infact, when we came to this fork in the trail, the sign only points toward the main falls or back to the parking lot. There was no mention of the upper falls. At this fork, we took the trail to the left that continued up. A little ways up this trail was a sign pointing us in the direction of the conservancy trail and Barney's wall. we continued along this trail, for about 1/2 mile.

The entire trail was extremely muddy. Something to keep in mind if you plan to hike here. About 1/2 mile up the trail we came to a another fork. The main trail went towards the left, and had another sign showing the distances to the conservancy trail and Barney's wall. To get to the upper falls, you need to take the trail the right. It is almost hidden among the Rhododendrons.

The sloping muddy trail spits you out right at the very top of the upper falls.

This doesn't look really capture how magnificent these falls are. We looked around for a way to get to the base of the falls, but there was no real obvious trail. We finally found what looked like little more than a deer trail, that brought us to a little ledge near the base of he falls.

Here i was finally able to get a picture of them. They are most definitely worth the extra 1/2 mile to get to them. It was a little dissapointing that they are so difficult to access, but then again the area was quite secluded and free of other people...which made it really nice. The lower falls are sometimes pretty packed with tourists. The creek before the upper falls, are quite calm and shallow, with rock pools to safely play in, so this may become a new favorite spot for us.

As always i was obsessed with taking picture of the native wildflowers. The Jack in the Pulpits were blooming and coming up everywhere.

The trilliums were also in full bloom. i saw both the Trillium grandiflorum in varieties of white, pale pink and darker pink and also the Trillium erectum, which has the dark maroon flowers. i also saw many different varieties of violets, from white to yellow to purples. Wild phlox, Solomon's Seal, Squawroot, wild geranium, and tons of star chickweed.

We also spotted 6 species of butterflies. Easter Tiger Swallowtails, pipevine swallowtail, cabbage white, red admiral, painted lady and Duskywings.

After leaving the upper falls, we went back and continued on to the lower fall. The entire hike (5 miles round trip) follows the river, and has amazing views like this.

The main falls were as beautiful as ever, however they were busier than i have ever seen them. You can't tell by the picture, but the rocks, benches, trail here were completely packed with people. We usually walk out onto the rocks, but passed it up this time. We hung out for a little while and watched several people slip on the rocks and wipe out while attempting to walk up to the base of the falls. It is always extremely slippery.

We had a fabulous time hiking. The power of the waterfalls always energizes us, and we decided to take the lower (harder) trail back. i thought for sure the kids would be tied and whining by that point...but they were literally running down the trail and we (kenan and i) were struggling to keep up with them. i am so looking forward to summer and these weekend family hikes. Although we have our favorites we love to visit, this year i really hope to explore some new ones too.



  1. There is something really energizing about waterfalls isn't there :-) Your hike sounds great - can't wait until my kids are a bit bigger for these kinds of walks

    Thanks for sharing on Happy Family Times

  2. What a beautiful place for your family to experience together! Thanks for sharing at the Outdoor Play Party!

  3. What a gorgeous hike. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures with us and linking up to the Outdoor Play Party. I hope you come back again tomorrow!