OK, I lied. While staying at the Homestead, we did do one activity that didn’t include spa time or lounging by the pool. We went explored the waterfalls in Virginia via a hike along the Allegheny Mountain gorge trail.
And immediately, upon seeing the first cascade, I was so glad we did, too.
We first met our group at the activities center inside of the Homestead Resort at 9am before we all shuttled over 10 minutes to where the hike begins.
A naturalist led us through the series of seven cascades. SVV and I hung toward the back so we could be snap-happy without annoying the other 20 hikers in our group.
For those staying at the Homestead and looking to go on this hike, I highly recommend it for the nature aspect. You can’t access these falls without a guide, and they’re very scenic and quite unique.
We have a lot of falls in Tennessee, and I’ve never been on a hike like this where the cascades just kept going, one after one.
Just know that the pace is quite slow, and you’ll maybe travel a mile throughout the two-and-a-half hours. So for the active hikers, you might choose another activity; for SVV and me who wanted ample time to set up our tripod and capture the landscape, it was ideal.
But it was on the drive through Bath County en route for West Virginia when the magic really happened. About 20 minutes down the road, around the bend on Highway 220, we were presented with this view:
So naturally, we had to pull over into the parking lot and take a closer look.
And yes, that is me on the edge of an 80-foot drop-off, because apparently I’m crazy town like that.
We’d come to find this was a favorite spot of famed Virginian (and former President) Thomas Jefferson, who was quoted as (inaccurately) calling this waterfall as “remarkable cascade…
But could we go to the bottom, was the burning question? All the trails said to keep off, but a quick Google yielded so many results of people posting photos from the base of the falls.
For once, I was wanting to break the rules, and SVV was saying, “no, woman. It says ‘keep off,’ so we’re gonna keep off.” (He would never actually talk like that, but you get the picture.)
In this very rare instance, though, I won.
We encountered a local who could see we were perplexed and pulled over to see if he could help us out (oh, Virginians, you are a friendly bunch!). I inquired if we were allowed to hike to the bottom.
“Oh sure,” he said. “It says ‘no trespassing,’ but no one obeys those rules. Just be careful as there’s been a lot of rain so the trail may have been washed out.”
That was all the permission I needed.
To the right of the parking lot was an entrance where we could walk around the top of the falls. It was also full of pools filled with the clearest water I’ve ever seen in the continental United States.
Given it was October, it was a wee bit too chilly to swim—though SVV probably would have had we had a bit more time to waste—but man, was it spectacular.
The upper pools led to the top of the falls where we gazed down with a bit of anxiety—how were we to hike down this thing? There didn’t seem to be a clear path.
But then, facing the falls, we found a well-tread path just to the left near the road and decided to give it a try. It was a bit iffy at times, but we wound up scampering down the rocks and boulders and were to the base in under five minutes.
I had all these epic Instagram shots planned for the bottom, but once we got there, it was so wet—the windy conditions meant the waterfall was showering us with water—that we didn’t want to keep the camera out for long, so we snapped a few shots then went back up to the top again.
I would highly recommend anyone traveling through Bath County make this stop. Even if you don’t walk all the way down—you need good hiking shoes and good knees to make that climb—the pools around the top are just seconds from the parking lot and so, so stunning.
We had 36 hours until we needed to be in Lexington for work, so we continued on, splitting the drive up over two days and making our home in Huntington for the night. But on the way to West Virginia, we had one more stop to make. While Googling “waterfalls in Virginia,” I came across a cool bridge that was just a few miles from Falling Springs Falls.
Super cool, right? The 100-foot-long Humpback Bridge is Virginia’s oldest covered bridge—it was originally built in the 1820s, then reconstructed in 1837 and once again in 1856 once it fell victim to not one but two floodings—and even though it’s no longer in use as a road, you can stop in Covington and park in the lot right there alongside the river to walk through it and take your photos.
Ever since I started handstanding around the world, my jumping shots took a back seat, so I decided to dust them off just for this occasion.
Virginia and your dreamy waterfalls, I must say you are one spectacular example of Mother Nature. Keep doing your thang; we’ll be back for more very soon.