Exploring Saint Mary's Wilderness

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20 Minute Cliff Overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway

20 Minute Cliff Overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway

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 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!