When you're driving along Cascade Drive, past houses and freshly cut lawns with urban driveways and fields, you'd never guess you just entered the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. The trees become thicker and houses disappear as you drive deeper into the forest as you come upon the Cascades Trailhead. This area marks a looping parking lot, paved with restrooms, benches, and water fountains with the trail beginning behind the restrooms.
The trail loops and has a lower and higher portion, both made with a concrete end to mark where the trail is. It's better to travel down the lower trail first, where you'll enjoy an even walk along a 3-foot wide trail made of compacted dirt. Although the trail is mostly even and flat, there are some boulders and rocks you'll have to step over to continue hiking.
The lower route follows along closely to the Little Stony Creek, offering multiple access points to fish and swim in. The water is pretty clean, and Fido would even enjoy a dip in the water during the summer.
You'll notice right away rocky cliffs and overhangs, which create small caves and waterfalls along the creek. Being so close to nature now, you'll probably enjoy some wildlife observation, with a chance to see foxes, deer, groundhogs, beavers, birds, and squirrels.
It will only be two miles before you come upon the grand climax, the Cascade Falls. The trail follows along the large pond which catches the water flowing from the 69-foot waterfall, which crashes down over rocks and trees. The path stays along the left side of the scenic display, with stairs and boardwalks that travel along the water and up higher to get a better view.
The boardwalk and steps lead to the higher end of the loop trail that runs back to the parking lot. This way is a lot more even, with no rocks in the way and offers a few views of the valley below. After another short two miles, you'll be back at your car.
Waterfalls, caves, scenic forests, and even some water to play and fish in, there's not much more you can ask for on this enjoyable hike for all types. Even your pup will be jumping and barking to come back!