This is a backdoor hike for me and I have been on this trail many time. This hike has a lot of variety and progresses in difficulty the further you get. There are actually two trail heads to Apple Orchard falls. You can start from the Blue Ridge Parkway, or (my preference) start from North Creek in Arcadia (3 miles North of Buchanan, VA.). It’s not uncommon to see a lot of wildlife including bears.
The trail itself is part of the Jefferson National Forest. There are some rocky areas and once you get close to the falls you will be walking up the mountain but still, the trail is pretty easy to navigate. The trail follows the creek most of the way and if you are a trout fisherman bring your rod. This is also a great area to camp if you are into primitive camping. If you want a challenge, continue past the falls and hike all the way to the parkway. Hiker beware, it’s a climb.
The Apple Orchard Falls National Recreation Trail leaves Sunset Fields at milepost 78.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway and winds down Apple Orchard Mountain generally following the headwaters of North Creek. Hikers will follow the coursing stream, enjoying the gurgling waters hopping over and pushing through boulders as it travels down the mountain. Along the way down, the trail pauses at a wooden platform overlooking the waterfalls, then travels further down to an elaborate boardwalk at the base of the waterfall.
Trail Length: 3.32 miles
Trail Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Connecting Trails: FT #18 – Cornelius Creek, FT #1 – Appalachian Trail
Elevation: Beginning at an elevation of 1480 feet at the parking lot on FR #59 and climbing to 3400 feet at the trailhead at Sunset Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Trail Access Points (Approximate LAT/LONG):
North Creek Trailhead: LAT 37.53 LONG -79.55
Sunset Fields on Blue Ridge Parkway: LAT 37.51 LONG -79.52
Lat/Long Conversion Table