Falls of Dismal is a bit of a hidden treat deep in the Southwest Virginia forest. We’re sharing everything you need to know for a great visit including where to park and what to expect.
Falls of Dismal, sometimes called Dismal Falls, is a small waterfall in Pearisburg, Virginia that is relatively unknown. The squat waterfall is beautifully framed by surrounding forest and is a refreshing swimming hole.
Despite the unfortunate name of this waterfall, your visit will be anything but dismal.
Where is Falls of Dismal?
Falls of Dismal is hidden away in the Jefferson National Forest. You will find the waterfall along Dismal Creek Rd. There isn’t a sign that lists the short trail that takes you to the falls. Instead you will be looking for a small pull-off area.
In fact, there are two tiny parking areas. One spot is at the very short trail that takes you to the bottom of the falls where you can swim if you like. The other is at a small trailhead that takes you to Dismal Creek above the waterfall. You can briefly follow along the creek to near the top of the waterfall.
Falls of Dismal is a bit out of the way and it is usually quiet but in the summer it’s a favorite swimming hole for many locals or the occasional Appalachian Trail through hiker stopping by to enjoy the cool waters.
How Tall is Falls of Dismal?
The overall drop is 10 feet and broken up by a couple of cascades. It’s 40 feet wide, though, and that width plus the large reflective pool at the base of the falls are why it’s so beautiful.
How hard is the hike to the waterfall?
The brief walk to the falls is not difficult. The overall length of the hike is 0.1 miles. The trail is pretty visible and easy to follow. Once you reach the bottom of the falls there are several wide rocks to relax on.
Is it safe to swim at Falls of Dismal?
The waterfall is not powerful and doesn’t usually create an undertow. The creek also is not a fast flowing body of water. You can safely swim there if you are a competent swimmer. I’d be careful about jumping into the water and definitely would not dive head first.
Swimming without a lifeguard is inherently dangerous and even more so when it is out in nature. Use your best judgment when deciding to swim or not.
Exploring around the area
When we were there I noticed the unusual rock formation that forms the waterfall also continues into the small cove near the creek. This area seems like a great spot for bouldering. It’s about 15 feet tall and not something you should attempt without a crash pad and a few friends.
If you go to the upper trail, there are fewer places to rest and the trail is narrow near the creek. We’ve been on both and found the lower section to be more enjoyable.
There isn’t a great view of the waterfall from the top. We tried walking further away from the waterfall to see if there was a place to cross over the creek and couldn’t find one.
We like to explore nature and if you do too, then you will probably enjoy going to the creek above the Falls of Dismal.
Falls of Dismal is a perfect little gem of a waterfall and one you should visit if you have a chance. Another incredible nearby waterfall is the Cascades Falls. You may have already been there but have you been to the second waterfall?
And if you are ready to explore more waterfalls, we have a list of Virignia’s best waterfalls you’re going to want to check out next.