Falls Ridge Natural Preserve

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Falls Ridge Natural Preserve features two trails totaling 5 miles. With its nice hiking trails, a beautiful waterfall, intriguing caves, rare plants, and convenient location, the Falls Ridge Preserve gets lots of attention. Falls Ridge Preserve is owned and protected by The Nature Conservancy.

Part of a steep, rugged ridge that rises from the valley of the North Fork of the Roanoke River, Falls Ridge Preserve boasts a spring-fed travertine waterfall approximately 80 feet in height.

Salem Fault runs through the preserve, dividing it into two different rock types-Precambrian limestone and shale/sandstone. The corresponding difference in soil types generates a diversity of vegetation, particularly wildflowers and smaller flora.

The rocks in the travertine falls watershed grew steadily, as minerals and lime dissolved in the water precipitate upon them. Over thousands of years, the build-up of calcium carbonate steepened the stream’s gradient and slowly created both the waterfall and one of the largest-known exposed travertine deposits. Large sinkholes on part of the land also indicate the existence of underlying caverns which have never been explored.

Distance

  • Bradley Trail Loop: 3.3 miles
  • Chamberlain Trail Loop: 1.3 miles

Hike It

  • Starting at the parking area follow the access trail through the field.
  • You will soon reach the Bradley Trail Loop marked with silver blazes. Turn right heading towards the waterfall.
  • A set of stairs on the left will lead you down to a viewing of the base of the travertine waterfall.
  • Continue the trail, and you will cross over a bridge above the primary waterfall. The color of the water and rocks will be picturesque.
  • Then you will see a side trail veer off toward private property. Follow the trail left and down a set of stairs.
  • Turn right when you reach a Y-junction with the Chamberlain Trail, which is marked with red blazes. This will take you up to a knob above the valley and through a forest of pine and hardwood trees.
  • Continue the trail and take a right at the Y-junction about 1.5 miles into the trail. This takes you to the upper Chamberlain Trail Loop.
  • Hike ~1.3 miles further and turn right on the Bradley Trail to return to the parking area. On this portion of the hike, many caves and cliffs can be seen.
  • Cross the bridge to finish the Bradley Trail Loop, and continue to the parking area.

Directions/Parking

From Roanoke – Take I-81 S until Exit 128 (Ironto). Turn right onto Route 603/North Fork Road. Continue on the winding road for 7 miles until reaching a red bridge on the left. Take a left turn onto Falls Ridge Road and cross the bridge and train tracks. Once over the tracks, turn left onto a gravel road. Cross over a stream and keep left at the fork. Park on the side of the road by the preserve entrance sign. The trail will begin across the field.

Add-On Adventure

Nearby Breweries

  • Bull & Bones Brewhaus and Grill Expand Collapse

    Bull & Bones Brewhaus and Grill is a locally-owned brewpub with both an upscale dining room and a separate sports bar with a casual dining area. The brewpub is located in “First and Main” in Blacksburg on South Main Street. Fresh lager and ale is handcrafted and served on site and the brewery is visible through glass walls throughout the restaurant.

  • Rising Silo Farm Brewery Expand Collapse

    The brewery is currently operating with a 3-barrel brewing system on site at the farm. Each batch is crafted with great care and attentiveness. The tasting room is open for various events throughout the week.

Nearby Wineries

  • AmRhein’s Wine Cellars Expand Collapse

    AmRhein’s Wine Cellars, a family-owned winery since 1999, is at an elevation of 2,500 feet just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 136.

    Just 20 minutes from Roanoke and less than two hours from Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Greensboro, N.C. Specializing in Virginia-style wines from 100 percent estate grown grapes with 35,000 vines in three vineyard locations (Bent Mountain, Franklin County, and Botetourt) producing more than 15 different wines. Sit on the veranda and enjoy the cool mountain breezes, while sampling a few award-winning wines.

  • Beliveau Estate Winery Expand Collapse

    Beliveau Estate Winery sits on 165 scenic acres nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just 30 minutes from downtown Salem.

    The winery features award-winning red and white wines in dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet fashions are available for tasting, by the glass, and by the bottle. Bring your own picnic or order lite fare from our chef’s daily menu. Take advantage of the property’s spectacular mountain views, on-site hiking trails, fragrant lavender garden, covered veranda, stocked ponds, hilltop pavilion, Italian tiled reception hall, outdoor patio and tiki bar, and on-site French country-style bed and breakfast with catering.

    The winery and tasting room are open Wednesday through Sunday.

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