A hiking review of Cascades and Barney’s Wall near Pembroke, VA
8 miles round trip, 1,600′ elevation gain
TRIGGER WARNING: Terrifying Photos
If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I don’t hike. I’m not one of those people who gets blissed out in the woods. The beach, yes. Ticks, bears, snakes, serial killers and poison ivy? No. However, I enjoy being married to one of those blissed out hikers, so I hike. Occasionally. And under great duress.
We paid $3 for this super awesome warning, but I guess they won’t tow away your car if you have it, so, okay cool. Also, nobody listens to me. Hiking. Is. Dangerous.
They even tell you that up front. Can’t say you weren’t warned.
So the hike to the falls is gorgeous.
We got there early and had the trail to ourselves. This section felt like hiking into The Shire.
There were fallen trees everywhere and even over the trail in several places. We climbed over some and crawled under two of them. Yes, crawled on our knees. Not kidding.
The falls are truly magical. Especially early in the morning before the waters fill with amorous Virginia Tech students.
I maintained a good attitude for the first 2.5 miles of our hike. Right up until we met a couple on their return trip from Barney’s Wall. They had just encountered a bear at a campsite near the top. I went into High Alert! Stressed out of my mind for the next 5.5 miles, I scanned the woods in every direction. Every boulder was a bear. Every distant stump was a bear. I’ll never understand how this is supposed to be relaxing.
Panic mode: Expert Level
View from Barney’s Wall. We met a lady on the way down from Cascades who said she’s never made it up to Barney’s Wall. My advice to her: Don’t. Just Google pictures of it. It looks the same. That lady said her group had just seen an enormous snake. The biggest one she’d ever seen. Good times.
Bear Campsite. And I really had to pee. No worries, we’re only 4 MILES from a bathroom.
Remember that I said we climbed over fallen tree trunks? I started over this one, reaching out to steady myself on a small tree nearby. Guess what I wrapped my hand around?
And his friend Super Creepy. And yes, I screamed like a girl. Hiking is like being trapped in a horror flick set in nature, not in some axe murderer’s wood shed. They don’t tell you that dying of a heart attack while hiking is a very real possibility. Just from sheer terror.
Oh, thank you, Jesus! Only two more miles of this mess. I just have to make it back to the car. I can do this, right? The sound of rushing water from the creek was not helping the really-gotta-pee situation.
We took the Upper Trail back to the parking lot and freedom. It was a nice assortment of rocks, pointy rocks, sharp pointy rocks, rocks covered in wet slippery leaves and mud puddles. And trees overhead just waiting to fall and crush us.
And my husband l.o.v.e.d. it.
If you’d still like to visit after all that, go here to check it out: https://www.virginia.org/listings/OutdoorsAndSports/CascadesNationalRecreationTrail/
Cascades Pro Tips: Highly recommended for a quick hike with great views. Get there early for parking and solitude. Because the Cascades hike is so popular, the trails fill up in beautiful weather. We took the Lower Trail for the climb to the falls. The scenery is beautiful, but be prepared to climb up and down stone steps toward the end. A little challenging for this shorty. If you want an easier stroll, the Upper Trail is wider and more accessible. The Upper Trail views are slightly less spectacular but still pretty.
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