One of the state's tallest and most spectacular waterfalls. Singing streams, dancing down cascades. Huge boulders. Thick stands of forest, ranging from hemlocks to hardwoods. Stunning vistas of the Shenandoah Valley, especially in leaf-off. Towering bluff lines.
- 7.5 mile loop trail
- Moderately difficult
- Classic Virginia hike
Apple Orchard Mountain was named not for some expanse of apple trees planted on its slopes, but for the nature of the dominant northern red oak forests on its summits and ridges. The weather is so severe on the upper elevations of the mountain that the trees have taken on a stunted appearance, as if they have been trimmed and pruned over the decades. In fact, no human hand has altered them, but Mother Nature has had her way with them by virtue of harsh conditions and the icy winds that rake the peak during the long winter months. Both the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway pass within a very short distance of the very top of Apple Orchard Mountain.
Directions to Trailhead:
The Apple Orchard Falls-Cornelius Creek loop is east of Buchanan in the Jefferson National Forest below the Blue Ridge Parkway. Best trailhead access is from the end of Forest Road 59 or from Sunset Field Overlook at milepost 78.7 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. To get to the FR 59 trailhead:
- Take I-81 to exit 168
- Follow Rt. 614 for 3+ miles
- Turn left onto FR 59 at the North Creek Campground sign
- Follow for 4 miles. Road ends at trailhead
- The Apple Orchard Falls Trail leads left out of here; the Cornelius Creek Trail is to the right.