Exploring Saint Mary's Wilderness

20 Minute Cliff Overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway

20 Minute Cliff Overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway


 Hiking in Saint Mary's Wilderness has been on my list for awhile now and I finally got to explore the area the other day. It was a perfect hiking day; no one else was on the trail except for a restoration crew, the temperature was around 65 degrees, it was sunny and the fall leaves were just beginning to unravel. I found this hike on Hiking Upward but a lot of people (and a friend of mine) had told me that this trail was very confusing. Since I was hiking alone and didn't feel like getting lost I opted to start from the parking area at the end of Saint Mary's Road and hike in to the waterfall. I happened to find this parking lot by chance while stalking around on Google Maps! The trails are definitely tricky! They're unmarked and there are a ton of false trails (trails that look like they're right but they lead you to a dead end or in the wrong direction). There was one point that I probably would have gotten lost if not for the bright pink ribbons I saw off the trail through the trees; out of curiosity I went to see what it was all about and realized they were directing me across the river to the other side. Also, the trail is washed out in a few places next to the river so you're literally scaling the side of a cliff-thing, grabbing onto roots and holding on for dear life to get to the other side. Like I said earlier restoration crews were working but they were much, much closer to the parking lot and about half a mile from where the trail was washed out up stream. Regardless, I think parking at the end of Saint Mary's Road is a better option than what Hiking Upward directs you to do... it's a much more direct route. You're just following one river and a majority of the trail is right beside the water so you know you're going in the right direction. Coordinates to the parking area are 37.925055, -79.137660

Overall I absolutely loved this hike. I imagine it is simply stunning in the spring with the new green leaves on the trees and a much fuller waterfall. 

Also, is it just me or are the leaves taking their dear sweet time changing for the fall or what?! I've talked to quite a few people over Instagram and everyone is like.... "Whyyyy is it taking so long???" Since I work this weekend I'm really hoping that they peak the weekend after while I'm out and about. Crossing my fingers the leaves hold out for another week and a half!