Apple Orchard Falls Trail In Virginia

Here is everything you need to know about the Apple Orchard Falls Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Virginia
  • Length: 3.5 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: National Forest Service
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:

The Apple Orchard Falls Trail, located in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia, holds a rich historical significance. The trail follows the path of an old logging road that was once used by early settlers in the late 1800s. These settlers were drawn to the area due to the abundance of apple orchards that thrived in the region, hence the trail’s name.

During this time, apple orchards were a vital part of the local economy, providing a source of income and sustenance for the settlers. The trail itself was likely used to transport the harvested apples from the orchards to nearby markets and communities. The logging road was also utilized for timber extraction, as the forests in the area were valuable resources for building materials and fuel.

As time went on, the logging industry declined, and the apple orchards gradually disappeared. However, the trail remained, serving as a reminder of the area’s historical roots. Today, hikers can explore this trail and witness the remnants of the past, such as old stone walls and foundations that once supported the apple orchards and logging operations.

The Apple Orchard Falls Trail not only offers a glimpse into the region’s history but also provides a scenic and rewarding hiking experience. The trail meanders through lush forests, crossing several streams and offering breathtaking views of the cascading Apple Orchard Falls. It stands as a testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of the early settlers who once called this area home, leaving behind a legacy that can still be appreciated by modern-day adventurers.

While On The Trail

Access Points

The major access points or trailheads along the Apple Orchard Falls Trail are:

1. Apple Orchard Falls Parking Area: This is the main trailhead for the Apple Orchard Falls Trail. It is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 78.4. There is a designated parking area available for hikers.

2. Sunset Fields Parking Area: This is an alternative access point for the Apple Orchard Falls Trail. It is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 78.1. From here, hikers can connect to the Apple Orchard Falls Trail via the Cornelius Creek Trail.

3. Cornelius Creek Trailhead: This is another access point for the Apple Orchard Falls Trail. It is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 78.1. Hikers can start on the Cornelius Creek Trail and then connect to the Apple Orchard Falls Trail.

These are the main access points or trailheads along the Apple Orchard Falls Trail.

Transportation Available

1. Apple Orchard Falls Trailhead Parking Lot – Parking lot for hikers visiting Apple Orchard Falls Trail.
2. Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport – Regional airport offering flights to various destinations.
3. Lynchburg Amtrak Station – Train station providing rail transportation services.
4. Roanoke Greyhound Bus Station – Bus station offering intercity bus services.
5. Roanoke-Blacksburg Transit System – Local public transportation system serving the Roanoke and Blacksburg areas.
6. Yellow Cab of Roanoke – Taxi service operating in the Roanoke area.
7. Uber – Ride-sharing service available in the area.
8. Lyft – Ride-sharing service providing transportation options in the vicinity.
9. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Car rental service with a location in the area.
10. Hertz Rent A Car – Car rental service offering vehicles for rent near the trail.


The amenities available at the Apple Orchard Falls Trail may include:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or nearby parking area. However, it is advisable to check with local authorities or trail management for the most accurate information.

2. Parking: There might be designated parking areas or parking lots available for visitors to park their vehicles while accessing the trail.

3. Camping Sites: Depending on the specific trail regulations and management, there may be designated camping sites or camping areas nearby. It is important to check with local authorities or trail management for any permits or restrictions related to camping.

4. Picnic Areas: Some trails may have designated picnic areas or picnic tables along the trail or at the trailhead. These areas provide a space for visitors to relax, have a meal, or enjoy the surroundings.

5. Trailhead Facilities: The trailhead may have additional amenities such as information boards, maps, or interpretive signs to provide visitors with information about the trail, its features, and safety guidelines.

It is important to note that the availability of these amenities may vary depending on the specific trail management, season, and local regulations. It is always recommended to check with local authorities or trail management for the most up-to-date information before visiting.

Nearby Services

1. Peaks of Otter Lodge – Lakeside lodging with a restaurant and stunning mountain views.
2. Applewood Restaurant – Casual dining spot serving American cuisine near the trailhead.
3. Bedford County Fire & Rescue – Emergency services available in the nearby area.
4. Peaks of Otter Visitor Center – Information center providing assistance and emergency services for visitors to the trail.

Apple Orchard Falls Trail Difficulty Notes

The Apple Orchard Falls Trail offers a moderate to challenging difficulty level for hikers. The trail spans approximately 7.5 miles round trip and features a variety of terrains, including rocky sections, steep inclines, and stream crossings. Hikers should be prepared for a strenuous uphill climb, particularly towards the end of the trail where the waterfall is located. The trail is well-marked and maintained, but proper hiking gear and footwear are recommended to navigate the uneven terrain. Overall, the Apple Orchard Falls Trail provides a rewarding and scenic hiking experience, but it requires a moderate level of fitness and endurance.

Features And Attractions

The Apple Orchard Falls Trail is located in the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia. Along this trail, you can find several scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable points of interest along the Apple Orchard Falls Trail:

1. Apple Orchard Falls: The main highlight of the trail is the stunning Apple Orchard Falls, a 200-foot cascading waterfall that is a sight to behold.

2. Apple Orchard Mountain: This mountain peak offers panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian Trail.

3. Cornelius Creek: The trail follows alongside Cornelius Creek, providing beautiful views of the creek and its cascades.

4. Historic Apple Orchard Cabin: Along the trail, you can find the remains of an old cabin, which is a reminder of the area’s history.

5. Wildflowers and Wildlife: The trail is known for its diverse flora and fauna, including wildflowers, birds, and small mammals.

6. Forest Scenery: The trail passes through lush forests, offering a peaceful and serene environment.

7. Rock Formations: Throughout the trail, you’ll come across interesting rock formations, adding to the natural beauty of the area.

8. Appalachian Trail: The Apple Orchard Falls Trail intersects with the famous Appalachian Trail, providing an opportunity to explore a small section of this iconic long-distance trail.

9. Overlooks: There are several overlooks along the trail that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

10. Picnic Areas: Near the trailhead, there are picnic areas where you can relax and enjoy a meal amidst the beautiful scenery.

These are just a few of the highlights along the Apple Orchard Falls Trail. Exploring the trail will allow you to discover even more natural wonders and historical sites in this picturesque area.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– No camping or overnight stays are allowed on the trail.
– Hunting or trapping is strictly prohibited.
– No littering or dumping of any kind is allowed.
– Fires are only permitted in designated fire rings or grills.
– Motorized vehicles, including bicycles, are not allowed on the trail.
– Collection or removal of plants, animals, rocks, or artifacts is prohibited.
– Swimming or wading in the falls or streams is not allowed.
– Visitors are expected to stay on designated trails and not venture off-trail.
– Visitors should respect and be considerate of other hikers and wildlife.
– The trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions due to weather conditions or maintenance work.

Seasonal Information

The Apple Orchard Falls Trail, located in the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia, offers a picturesque and rewarding hiking experience. The best times of the year to visit this trail are during the spring and fall seasons. In the spring, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers and lush greenery, creating a stunning backdrop for hikers. The fall season, on the other hand, treats visitors to a breathtaking display of colorful foliage as the leaves change, making it a popular time for photography enthusiasts.

It is important to note that the Apple Orchard Falls Trail has seasonal closures during the winter months. Due to the potential for icy conditions and hazardous terrain, the trail is closed from December through March. It is advisable to check with the local authorities or the Jefferson National Forest website for the exact closure dates and any updates before planning your visit. However, during the closure period, visitors can still enjoy the beauty of the area by exploring nearby trails or engaging in winter activities such as snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

Overall, the Apple Orchard Falls Trail offers a delightful hiking experience throughout the year, with spring and fall being the most popular seasons. Whether you are seeking vibrant wildflowers, stunning foliage, or a peaceful winter wonderland, this trail has something to offer for every nature enthusiast. Just remember to plan your visit accordingly, considering the seasonal closures, to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Apple Orchard Falls Trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its steep and rugged terrain.
2. ADA Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the trailhead for visitors with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are available at the trailhead for individuals with mobility challenges.
4. Trail Surface: The trail surface is uneven and consists of natural terrain, making it challenging for wheelchair users.
5. Trail Width: The trail is narrow in some sections, limiting maneuverability for individuals using mobility aids.
6. Steep Inclines: The trail includes steep inclines and declines, which may pose difficulties for individuals with mobility limitations.
7. Handrails: Handrails are not available along the trail, making it challenging for individuals who require additional support.
8. Benches and Rest Areas: There are limited benches and rest areas along the trail for visitors who may need to take breaks.
9. Assistance Animals: Service animals are allowed on the trail to provide assistance to individuals with disabilities.
10. Alternative Accessible Trails: Nearby alternative trails, such as the Flat Top Trail, offer more accessible options for individuals with mobility challenges.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Apple Orchard Falls Trail is a moderately difficult 7.5-mile hike with steep sections and uneven terrain.
2. Proper Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction to navigate the rocky and sometimes slippery trail.
3. Trail Markings: Follow the blue blazes to stay on the designated trail and avoid getting lost.
4. Weather Awareness: Check the weather forecast before starting your hike and be prepared for sudden changes in temperature, rain, or fog.
5. Water Availability: Carry enough water for the duration of the hike as there are no reliable water sources along the trail.
6. Insect Repellent: Apply insect repellent to protect against ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects.
7. Wildlife Caution: Be cautious of wildlife encounters, including snakes, bears, and other animals. Keep a safe distance and do not feed them.
8. Trail Etiquette: Yield to uphill hikers, stay on the trail to avoid damaging vegetation, and pack out all trash.
9. Safety in Waterfalls: Exercise caution near the waterfall area, as rocks can be slippery and the water can be powerful.
10. Hiking Buddy: It is recommended to hike with a partner or in a group for safety and assistance if needed.
11. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a first aid kit, a map, a compass, and a whistle in case of emergencies.
12. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by leaving the trail as you found it, respecting nature, and minimizing your impact on the environment.

Conservation Notes

The conservation status of the Apple Orchard Falls Trail is of significant importance due to its ecological value and the need to protect its natural resources. The trail is located within the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia, which is managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS). As a part of the national forest system, the USFS aims to maintain the ecological integrity of the area while providing recreational opportunities for visitors.

The Apple Orchard Falls Trail is considered to be in good conservation status, primarily due to the efforts of the USFS in preserving its natural features. The trail traverses through a diverse forest ecosystem, showcasing a variety of plant and animal species. The USFS actively manages the area to prevent habitat degradation and the spread of invasive species, ensuring the preservation of the trail’s biodiversity.

To protect the trail and its surrounding environment, the USFS has implemented several conservation measures. These include regular trail maintenance to prevent erosion and degradation, as well as the installation of signage to educate visitors about the importance of preserving the natural resources. Additionally, the USFS encourages responsible hiking practices, such as staying on designated trails and packing out all trash, to minimize human impact on the ecosystem.

Overall, the conservation status of the Apple Orchard Falls Trail is considered to be well-maintained and protected. The efforts of the USFS in managing the area have contributed to the preservation of its ecological integrity, allowing visitors to enjoy the trail’s natural beauty while ensuring its long-term sustainability.

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