Mention Falls Creek in Jones Gap State Park and everyone thinks of the spectacular Falls Creek Falls up at the 1800 foot level of Standingstone Mountain. However, it should be remembered that Falls Creek continues on down the mountain, dropping 600 vertical feet in a 3000 foot horizontal run. With a slope such as that, it should be expected there are other cascades on the way down.
A good sampling of the environment along the creek can be found about 1000 horizontal feet below Falls Creek Falls. There is a short spur trail, only about 500 feet long, which takes you along Falls Creek and up into what is a dead end.
The spur itself is relatively easy but the part of Falls Creek Falls Trail used to access the spur is rated as moderate. Take the Falls Creek Falls Trail* about a mile until it crosses Little Falls Creek. Some 50 yards past the creek crossing, the trail makes a sharp right turn and starts the steep climb to Falls Creek Falls. To the left, what looks like a formal trail intersects. Although well-worn, this is an informal trail leading down to Falls Creek.
You quickly approach the 1st creek crossing, which marks the end of the well-worn trail, but not the end of the trail itself. At the crossing, there is a small cascade. Once across the creek, proceed upstream just a few yards and you will be facing a nice-sized cascade which, oddly enough, is unnamed. Some of the upper reaches are partially obscured by downfall but the lower section is quite pretty, dropping into a nice base pool. The worn trail is apparently used as an approach to this cascade. It is evident that not many venture past this point as the trail immediately becomes obscure.
However, past here, someone has placed orange surveyor’s tape along the way, very helpful in figuring out the route to take.
Climbing alongside the creek will take you to the upper section of the cascade you just saw from the base. Begin to look carefully for the surveyor’s tape marking the 2nd stream crossing. This crossing is more difficult than the 1st.
Follow the “path” as best you can. You’ll hear some distinct water noise off to your left and you can step down to see another picturesque small cascade. Moving up from this point, you’ll find the terrain getting steeper and you will begin to hear Chute Falls, which presents itself rather suddenly.
As noted, this is a relatively short trail so no need to be in a hurry. Enjoy the stream, the terrain, and pay attention to the plants and animals you may come across. Upon finding this an entertaining little “adventure,” you’ll want to return.
* For directions to the trail head, see the article on Chute Falls.