Nothing like the allure of a waterfall to encourage you to pull to the side of the road and take a hike.

White Rock Falls may not be the most breathtaking cascade in the Blue Ridge, but the hike to it won’t rob you of your breath, either. From the White Rock Gap pullout it’s a mostly downhill descent to the creek. Cross, and you face 0.2 miles of switchback climbing before you reach a short spur to the base of the falls, which consists of two drops totaling about 30 feet. In summer, this spur gets you to a cooling pool at the base of the main drop.

Continue climbing up to the Parkway, cross to the Slacks Overlook, take a short spur off the left side of the paved pullout, and hang a right on the Slacks Trail. The return spends some time atop the ridge, some just below on its west-facing flank. With a half mile to go the trail Ts into the White Rock Gap Trail; go left for 2.5 miles down to the Sherando Lake Recreation Area, go right for a half mile back to your car.

This is one of the few reliable hikes you can do in winter on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The vast majority of the 469-mile Parkway, extending from Waynesboro southwest to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is not maintained in winter. Because several residences along this stretch of the Parkway have no other way to get to their homes, this part is.

Trails: White Rock Falls, Slacks, White Rock Gap.

More info: “Hiking and Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway,” by Leonard M. Adkins (

Maps: National Geographic “Trails Illustrated: Lexington Blue Ridge Mtns,” 1:75,000, 50-foot contours.

Getting there: From Charlottesville, go west on I-64 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Go south on the parkway for 18.5 miles to Milepost 18.5.


Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 5 miles

Time to hike: 2-3.5 hours

Address: Milepost 18.5, Blue Ridge Parkway.

GPS: 37.53742, -79.02685