There is something about hiking to a waterfall that is so satisfying. Hiking is therapeutic in itself, but when the end reward is that you get to hang out next to a waterfall, that is the ultimate relaxing way to disconnect from our busy lives.
Since moving to Roanoke, I’ve made it my mission to complete all of the waterfall hikes in the area. So far I’ve visited Roaring Run, Cascades, and Crab Tree Falls (blog posts coming soon on those), but wanted to try out a new one. So I turned to the all-powerful Google to find my next waterfall adventure, that’s how I found Stiles Falls.
Stiles Falls is a 3-mile round trip hike in Shawsville, Virginia in Montgomery County about 50 minutes from Roanoke. It’s located on private property where Camp Alta Mons is located, so if camps are in session the hike is closed to the public. Luckily for me, in mid-October, camps aren’t a thing, so I was in the clear. Parking is free and when I first pulled up I was greeted by a very nice man who directed me where to park and explained the map and pointed out where the restrooms are located.
The first half mile of the hike is through the camp, which felt uneventful. But right before the official trail starts I came to a clearing where the landscape opened up and revealed a beautiful picturesque view of the mountains along the horizon with dots of color as the fall foliage peeked in through the green leaves. It looked like a picture that should be on the cover of a calendar.
You don’t have to guess when you are about to get on the trail that will lead you to the waterfall because a sign greets you immediately with information about the trail. It informs you that the trail markings will be white, the trail crosses the creek 3 times, the trail ends with a rock scramble, and it warns to not climb above the trails.
Also included on the sign is a little information about how the falls were named. Apparently, Randy Stiles was a Confederate war soldier who was at a picnic at the falls and decided to show off a new skill of swinging from ship riggings by swinging on tree limbs and vines when … well, he fell to his death… and that is how the name Stiles Falls came to be. Kind of depressing, I know. But it definitely was a sobering moment of realization to be careful and not mess with nature to the point of being reckless.
Crossing over the creek was not difficult and there were obvious spots where to step, so I never got my feet wet once. The hike follows the trickling creek that spills over stacks of rocks, scenes almost begging you to stop and take pictures.
Toward the very end of the hike near the falls, it gets pretty steep. The rock scramble described on the sign is a very real thing, but not that difficult to navigate. The view of the waterfall did not disappoint. At a 40 foot drop, the waterfall is smaller than other waterfalls you can hike to in southwest Virginia, but it was equally as beautiful. The pool below the waterfall was a swirling foamy aggregation of autumn leaves, a truly beautiful sight.
I had the whole area to myself and after I took all of the pictures I wanted to, I was able to just sit on one of the massive rocks and just enjoy the sights and sounds of the peaceful waterfall on a cool crisp afternoon.
The hike back was all downhill and went by fast.
If you are looking for an easy hike to a beautiful waterfall, I would highly recommend Stiles Falls.
You can even bring your dog, if it’s on a leash of course.
If you want to go here are some details:
Location: 2842 Crockett Springs Road, Shawsville, VA 24162
Phone: 540-268-2409, Facebook
Camp Days: Winter Camp is December 20-22, 2017. Stiles Falls will be closed from 2 PM December 20 until 3 PM December 22.
Check out my slideshow of pictures:
Check out the video of my experience: