Looking for a bit of outdoor adventure but wanting something more rustic and quiet, let me introduce to you Dismal Falls Retreat in Bland, Virginia.
This under-appreciated park is part of the Jefferson National Forest and offers a bit of everything for the outdoor lover – hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, and horse trails. All easily accessible with well maintained gravel roads.
We parked at the trail head near the top of the mountain and walked down along the park road to the falls which are easily accessible with only a minor slope that has plenty of footholds for traversing. However, for those who do not wish to do a lot of walking, there are places to park on the road that runs alongside the Dismal Creek and Dismal Falls.
The falls are reported to be about 10 feet of multi-tiered rock snuggled between the two banks. They are beautiful to take in, allowing for a great escape from the craziness of every day life. The day we went, there were only a few visitors to the area which trickled in at various intervals thus never making the area feel “too crowded.” At the base of the falls, there are plenty of large rocks to step out on or sit and dip your toes into the cold water while watching fish swim about.
The area we parked at is set up for horse trailers, complete with a hitching post at the outhouse. The space was large enough that you could bring a large group, build a campfire, and have a nice time of it.
The reason for following the roadway was due to our inability to find the trail head initially, but on our return to the vehicle, we did a bit more scouting about and found it. I am happy to say that what portion of the Stand Rock Branch Trail we trekked, it was well marked and shaded by rhododendron. The trail was a cleared foot path, well cleared, with small obstacles such as a stream to cross, that looks promising in doling out an adventuresome hike that I look forward to going back and doing.
A quick peak up at the camp grounds revealed a rustic setting nestled snuggly in the woods that provided a true camping experience without overcrowding. I spotted an outhouse and water pumps on the premises, giving some convenience to your outdoor stay. Certainly a prime spot for tent camping and making memories with family and friends.
The park and water is clean with very little litter present. Even the outhouse was well stocked and clean. Though there we encountered maybe a dozen people on our visit, the park was quiet which made it all the more pleasant. To sweeten this diverse outdoor spot is the price – FREE! Meaning that you can have an outdoor adventure on a tank of gas and a picnic basket.
Open year round, and just a short jaunt from I-77 or Highway 460 it is well worth the visit.
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