Crabtree Falls, the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River, is a popular attraction located in Nelson County, Virginia, just six miles off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 27. Physical address is 11581 Crabtree Falls Highway Montebello.
Crabtree Falls features a series of five major cascades and a number of smaller ones that fall a total distance of 1,200 feet. The first overlook is just a few hundred feet from the upper parking lot along a gentle, paved trail making it an excellent stopover for travelers of all ages and abilities.
The more adventuresome hiker may continue along the 2 and 1/2 mile Crabtree Falls Trail to four other overlooks offering spectacular views of the Crabtree Creek Falls and lovely vistas of the Tye River Valley. From the upper falls, the trail follows the creek another 1.2 miles to the Crabtree Meadows parking lot.
The name “Crabtree” is thought to have come from William Crabtree, who settled in the area in 1777. Another noted pioneer, Allen Tye, who did extensive exploration in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is identified as having discovered the Tye River.
The land at the base of the falls was almost developed as a resort area in the late 1960s. LA Snead, former US Assistant Fuel Administrator (WWI), environmentalist and notable Nelsontonian, blocked development efforts and spearheaded negotiations to secure the land surrounding the falls. Using personal and Congressional funds, the land deals were completed and the deeds transferred by LA Snead on June 3, 1968 to the National Forest System.This assured benefit for future generations of this magnificent Nelson County treasure.
There are wooden stairs, gravel paths, railed overlooks, and a spectacular 100-foot bridge over the Tye River. This beautiful bridge, a laminated arch, was shipped from New York in one piece. Cranes lifted and placed it over the Tye River in 1978. Under National Forest domain, the safety, accessibility and continued improvements have made Crabtree Falls a major tourist destination within Nelson County.