A Visit to the Falls of Little Stony

Randall Sanger, author of the Waterfalls of Virginia and West Virginia, takes us on a trip to the Falls of Little Stony.

I became aware of the Falls of Little Stony several years ago. With my dog Rocky along for the ride, I finally took the time to check out the Falls of Little Stony on a surprisingly warm January day. From the moment I saw the first waterfall, I wished I had visited much sooner. The trail gently descends on an old narrow-gauge railroad bed into a gorge full of rhododendron and hemlock, paralleling and crossing Little Stony Creek along the way. The waterfalls are all impressive, with each having a neat personality and characteristics that make it easy to spend the day photographing here. The ease and short duration of the trail make this a great hike for families with small children, and I’m looking forward to bringing my wife and daughter here soon.

Little Stony

From the trailhead parking, follow the trail downstream, and in about 300 yards you’ll reach a footbridge over Little Stony Creek with a view of the Upper Falls. Continue on the trail a short distance to a spur trail to the left with a series of stone steps leading down to the base of the Upper Falls. Here, you’ll see the free-falling water plunging into a beautiful green pool. If you can pull yourself away from the falls, head back up the steps and continue down the trail to the Middle Falls.

From the Upper Falls, follow the trail a few hundred yards downstream, cross the footbridge, and look for a short spur trail down to the stream, where you’ll find the best vantage points for photographing the Middle Falls.

The Middle Falls is my personal favorite of the three. I’m a big fan of small waterfalls with unique traits and a cascading stream rushing away from the falls—the Middle Falls has all that. Surrounded by the lush greens of rhododendron lining the banks, Little Stony Creek drops over a multisectioned ledge and immediately begins a cascading run downstream. This is where I decided I was going to get wet, and I entered the stream to capture water flowing over and around small boulders and rocks, with the Middle Falls in the background. I typically don’t like placing man-made objects in my waterfall images, but here and at the Upper Falls, the footbridges spanning the creek really add to the scene.

Continue on the trail down to the Lower Falls. About 0.1 mile from the Lower Falls, the trail becomes a bit steeper, and you’ll have to deal with some exposed roots. There is a nice viewing platform above the Lower Falls, but a short, steep spur trail on the opposite side of the platform affords you access to the stream. Of the three falls, the Lower Falls was my second favorite, mainly due to the cascading stream leading away from the falls. Water fanning over a jutted section of the streambed lured me back into the creek, and it was here that my dog was overcome with the desire to get wet as well. The Lower Falls is a typical stair-step fall, with a large, deep pool at the base. I haven’t been here in the summer months, but I imagine the pool here and the one at the Upper Falls are popular swimming holes. If you haven’t visited the Falls of Little Stony, add it way up high on your list; you won’t be disappointed. I’ll be going back often, so be sure to say hello if you see me there.

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Liliane Opsomer
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