Stiles Fall, Camp Alta Mons, Shawsville, VA

This “Get Out There” recommendation comes from Rebekah, our assistant manager at Outdoor Trails Daleville. An Outdoor Trails employee for over 6 years, Rebekah enjoys hiking and backpacking with her dog Geronimo. Next time you’re in the store, ask her about her multiple trips to Montana, and wish her luck on her thru-hike of the AT, which she plans to begin in May (if we let her leave us). 

The hike to Stiles Falls at Camp Alta Mons in Shawsville, VA is one of Rebekah’s favorite winter hikes because of its scenic drive and short distance from Roanoke to the west. It’s a great little hike to enjoy in the winter when you’re going crazy from cabin fever and just want to get out for a quick walk. The falls are breathtaking when frozen—truly a sight that should not be missed this year.

We encourage you to visit Camp Alta Mons year-round, as it offers a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking trails, which traverse its 850 acres, heated retreat facilities, and tent/ RV campsites (water is shut off to these in the winter but available from other camp facilities). Bathrooms and water fountains can be found at the Camp Post on the right or further up the gravel road by the Dining Hall to your left. Camp Alta Mons is open to the public year round except for Summer Camp and Winter Camp.  During the 4 week Summer Camp, they are only open to the public on Saturdays and until 2pm on Sunday. Contact Camp Alta Mons at http://www.altamons.com  for current water availability, trail conditions, and winter meal schedules.
 

Directions

Take I-81 South to Exit 132. Turn right on Route 11 S / 460 W towards Shawsville. After approximately 8.5 miles turn left onto Alleghany Springs Road.

-OR-

Take I-81 North to Exit 118 C. Turn right on Route 11 N / 460 E towards Shawsville. After approximately 6.5 miles turn right onto Alleghany Springs Road.

After 6 miles on Alleghany Springs Road, turn right onto Crockett Springs Road. Parking will be in the first gravel parking lot on your right, beside the Camp Post. For the first ¾ mile, you’ll walk down the gravel road past the pond, into the woods, curving right across Purgatory Creek, into a large field with a wooden fence. As the trail turns from gravel to dirt and mud and enters the woods, you’ll take the left fork and follow the signs to Styles Waterfall.

 


 

About the Trail

The walk from the front of camp is about ¾ mile on rolling terrain down the gravel road to the Styles Falls trailhead. From the trailhead, it’s about a one mile walk to the waterfall. Occasionally, there is accessible parking closer than the first gravel lot; something to keep in mind if you have people in your hiking party who need a shorter walk.

There are three creek crossings along the trail, four if you climb the boulders to the base of the waterfall. Generally the creek is low enough to step across on rocks but can be icy in cold weather. We definitely recommend waterproof shoes/boots for this hike in the winter. Terrain on the trail varies from wide and sauntering to steep inclines and rock hopping, but because this is a short hike, nothing is terribly strenuous and should be a good time for anyone. At about 3.5 miles roundtrip, this hike will take a couple hours or more, depending on creek conditions and how long you decide to marvel at the 45 foot waterfall.

What You’ll Need

Make sure that you dress appropriately for the weather. When hiking in the winter, it’s always a good idea to have a hat and gloves; even if it appears warm and sunny when you start out, the shaded woods and winter wind can set a chill in quickly. Layers are usually a good idea, too (think long underwear under regular hiking clothes and a jacket). Keep in mind that if you do not have waterproof footwear and aren’t nimble at creek crossings, you may want an extra pair of warm socks.


Be sure to take about a liter of water per person when you go; even though it’s cold out you will still sweat and get thirsty (Camp Alta Mons is the former site of the historic Crockett Springs Resort, known for it’s “healing water,” so take advantage of the tasty water and fill up your bottle from the fountain in the Dining Hall). Energy bars, snacks, or a lunch can be enjoyed on the large boulders at the base of the waterfall if it’s not too icy to climb up them. Be sure to pack out what you pack in!

Skill Level

In mild weather this hike is beginner level. In the winter it can be icy and more treacherous but should still be walkable for the average outdoorsmen. Just remember to check the weather before you start out. Chances are that if the roads are clear enough for you to drive comfortably to Camp Alta Mons, the hike will be easy to moderate and very enjoyable. Depending on parking access, you can vary the distance of the walk itself, and Camp Alta Mons has a register for hikers to sign in and out, with full time employees available for help.