Thousands of people visit Natural Bridge State Park each year. The gargantuan stone structure that forms a bridge is truly a natural wonder. While you’ll love seeing this incredible rocky formation we think you’ll also love Lace Falls. Below you will find what to expect, what to look forward to, and why you should go the easy extra distance.
Natural Bridge is an incredibly popular place to visit. Most people visit to see the bridge and that’s as it should be, the Natural Bridge is breathtaking. Most people don’t realize there is also a waterfall, an abandoned cave, a Native American village, and a mysterious underground river.
Come for the bridge, but take in the other amazing things to see along the Cedar Creek Trail.
Lace Falls sits at the end of a mile long trail that follows along Cedar Creek. If you are visiting Natural Bridge State Park and are going to see the natural wonder you’ll already be on the trail for Lace falls.
Lace Falls Hike
Length: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 400 feet Difficulty: Easy
Great For: Families, Photography
Location: Natural Bridge State Park
When to Visit: Spring, Summer, Fall
How We Rate It: 5/5, You can’t get to Lace Falls without passing under the Natural Bridge. It’s an easy beautiful walk through an incredible historic location.
Seeing Natural Bridge
Your hike begins at the rear of the visitors center. You’ll follow a paved path down many sets of stairs alongside a pretty creek. The walk back up the stairs will be the most difficult park of the walk. From the bottom of the stairs on it’s mostly flat.
On your way down the steps you should notice the huge dead gnarled cedar tree trunk.
This tree died in 1980 but at the time it was the largest and oldest known specimen in the world. It was thought to be around 1600 years old. In case you’re wondering the normal lifespan for this species, Thuja Occidentalis, is around 800 years.
Once you reach the bottom of the steps, you’ll be rewarded with a view of a small but very pretty waterfall.
Here you’ll find a large picnic shelter with a small shop that has snacks and other items. It’s a great place to grab a some ice cream and relax near the creek, but maybe do that on your way back.
Once you continue beyond the shop, you’ll quickly arrive at the Natural Bridge. You’ll get a slightly different view of the bridge from each side along with the close up view from directly underneath. I had fun standing under the bridge and watching tiny perfectly spherical water droplets fall around me.
The Saltpeter Cave
Once have taken in the Natural Bridge, you’ll continue along the wide trail. While Lace Falls is your destination, there are also several other interesting things to see along the rest of the trail.
The first thing awesome thing you reach is the Saltpeter Cave. There is a long bridge that crosses over Cedar Creek. Once you reach the other side you can enter a small portion of the cave.
Saltpeter is one of the ingredients used in making black powder and this cave was mined during the war of 1812 and during the Civil War. Mining saltpeter was difficult and dangerous work and exposed workers to toxic levels of the substance. There is a sign that warns against going further into the cave.
A bit further along the trail you reach a reproduction of a Monacan village. The Monacan people were indigenous to Bear Mountain in neighboring Amherst County. They are one of the oldest tribes to still reside on their homeland in Virginia and still have a population with around 2000 members.
The village was closed on our last visit but you can still walk around the outside and take in the carefully built woven stick structures.
There is also a nearby platform for lectures and demonstrations nestled under the high trees.
As you get closer to Lace Falls there is a small manmade opening. In the early 1800s, workers near the Saltpeter Cave heard the underground river and blasted the hole. They never located the river and attempts to find the river with outlet with dyes have failed.
There aren’t a lot of mysteries it seems anymore but this is one. That it’s a mystery at such a famous place is even more impressive. If it’s quiet you can hear the sound of moving water from the opening.
Finally, Lace Falls
After the Lost River, the trail veers slightly down as you get closer to the overlook. The trail is wide and remains easy.
It only takes a few minutes to reach the overlook. This overlook is the only place to see the falls; you can’t continue closer to the actual base of the waterfall.
You can get a good view of the falls from the overlook though. Lace Falls is a bit of a slide and less of a free falling waterfall.
The falls drops about 30 feet and isn’t as big as many other waterfalls. But it is a beautiful waterfall in a very peaceful setting.
When you visit Natural Bridge don’t skip out on going to Lace Falls. The waterfall isn’t stunning or breathtaking like the Natural Bridge, but the overall experience taken as a whole is incredible.
After your visit
If you’re hungry after your visit, Natty B Cafe is only a couple miles away and they have great sandwiches along with a small country store.