• Activities:

    Fishing, Swimming, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    4.4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    300 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Swimming Hole

An easy hike with little elevation gain, this trail hugs Saint Mary's River and will take you to a beautiful Blue Ridge waterfall.

Saint Mary's Wilderness is one of Virginia's largest designated wilderness areas and is an old iron ore mining area. There are two ways to get to Saint Mary's Falls and this adventure will start you off at the parking area off Saint Mary's Road. 

Once on Saint Mary's Road, you will drive until you come to a dead end and see a big kiosk that signals the beginning of the trailhead and provides some additional information about the area. From the trailhead follow the trail along the river. The trail is very well defined, although it is not blazed. For the first 1.8 miles of the hike you will follow the trail beside the river and cross the river once. At about 1.5 miles into the hike, the trail becomes precarious due to the fact that the trails have been washed out from past rainstorms. The trail is still accessible but please use extreme caution while hiking this short section. Trail restoration crews have been working hard in the area to restore this section but I am unsure whether or not the work has been completed. 

At mile 1.8 you will come to an area where it seems like there are other trails leading into the area. Keep straight with the river on your left and keep an eye peeled for a river crossing. There is pink ribbon on the trees beside the river, a pink ribbon tied to a tree trunk in the center of the river and another pink ribbon tied to a tree on the far bank. This is your crossing. At no point should you take a right on the trail or start hiking away from the river, if you miss the crossing you will hike another .15 miles before it dead ends, turn around and keep an eye peeled for the pink ribbon again. Once you have crossed the river continue to follow the well beaten path but now the river will be on your right. After about .2 miles you'll come to a huge swimming hole and about .2 miles after that you'll arrive at the waterfall. To get back to the parking lot retrace your steps.

* The trails are not blazed but they are well traversed and you will not easily lose them 

Pack List

  • Water shoes for river crossings
  • Bathing suit & towel (for summertime)
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Favorite spot😁 Highly recommend water shoes!

4 months ago
4 months ago

This is one of my staple hikes I come back to over and over. It's great with kids in that its a pretty flat walk (but extremely rocky and uneven), but the river crossings and the missing bits of trail keep them entertained beyond "just walking". I particularly love how you can jump off the waterfall into the swimming hole at the end. I've even seen folks jump off the cliff above where the trail ends (opposite the falls) into the small pool (something you will never see me even consider attempting).

11 months ago
11 months ago

Jess Fischer Explorer

A little adventurer with a big love for the great outdoors.

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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