Adventure Us: Roaring Run
One spot our family has consistently loved and returned to over and over is Roaring Run Falls in Eagle Rock. The Roanoke area is teeming with places that are rich in both natural beauty and fascinating history, and Roaring Run is one of the best of them all.
Although the Roaring Run Falls trail has become increasingly popular, we have found that it is still spacious enough to accommodate the extra traffic without feeling crowded. The 1.5 mile round trip trail follows the Roaring Run creek upstream along (and across) an endless series of beautiful cascades to the thunderous falls at the top. In our experience, the rushing water has a energizing effect on young hikers; an uphill trail of this length would often have our boys whining, but the beauty of the rapids and the anticipation of the waterfall ahead seems to magically increase their stamina! Toward the top, several natural pools make for excellent swimming and wading in the heat of summer. As you approach the summit, be careful traversing the rocky (and often wet) outcrop up to the edge of the falls.
What’s special about Roaring Run is that even after you’ve seen the waterfall, you still have more to look forward to. On the way down, take the alternate Woodland Trail away from the stream and into the forest. Be on the lookout for wildlife! At the bottom of the trail, as you once more approach the stream, the trail takes you past the historic Roaring Run Furnace. Dating back almost 200 years, this 36 foot high stone structure was used to smelt iron from iron ore mined nearby. The furnace is still in remarkably good condition. In front of its arch, where the molten iron once ran out of the furnace into sand molds, the ground is still littered with pieces of shiny iron slag. You can also see the pit, walled by stone, where a water wheel once turned to power the furnace bellows. The furnace was intermittently used starting in 1832 until it was finally abandoned after the Civil War in 1865.
Close out your trip with a picnic near the creek, enjoying the cool mountain forest and imagining what life was like generations ago when smoke poured from the furnace, a river of iron rolled out its arch, and a waterwheel creaked beside it.
Roaring Run is part of Washington and Jefferson National Forest and is open year-round. Visit on a week day to avoid the most heavily trafficked times. Note that there is no drinking water available on site, and the restrooms are currently closed.
Name: Roaring Run Day Use Area, 450 Roaring Run Rd, Eagle Rock, VA 24085
Time from Roanoke: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Activity Options: Trails, history, fishing, swimming, wading, picnicking
Nearby Food: Maw & Paw’s Diner (Eagle Rock)
Nearby Attractions: C&O Railway Heritage Center (Clifton Forge)