Mostly following old roads, Balcony Falls Trail begins with a gentle climb. It overlooks the town of Glasgow and the James River, offering hikers fantastic scenery to reward their steep ascent across switchbacks that are no leisurely stroll. There are no waterfalls along this trail like the name suggests.
From the parking lot, the start of the trail is at the farm gate to the right and is open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders. After one mile, the trail turns right onto another old road and continues through the woods at a slight incline. The first 2.2 miles of this trail is a leisurely stroll, but as you enter the James River Face Wilderness it begins to climb along the ridgeline. This section is significantly steeper but offers fantastic views of the James River.
This trail is found just after Natural Bridge Station and before Arnold’s Valley. From the Lexington Visitor Center, drive east on Washington Street to a left at the stoplight onto East Nelson Street (US-60). Continue six miles into Buena Vista and take a right turn onto Beech Avenue / Sycamore Avenue / US-501. Drive 9.3 miles to a right onto VA-130 W. In 3.1 miles, turn left onto VA-759 S, followed by a left onto State Route 782. The road ends at the Locher Tract parking area.
- Once the trail enters the James River Face Wilderness, group size is limited to no more than 10 people and bicycles are prohibited.
- This trail is open to hikers and horseback riders. Hikers should yield to horseback riders.
- Though always a good experience, this hike is best in early spring, late fall, or winter because leafy trees largely obscure the breathtaking views.
- Enjoy a barbecue sandwich for lunch (or ask for lunch to-go) at JJ’s Meat Shak in Buena Vista. Love fried chicken? Kenney’s is the local go-to. Be sure to pick up something sweet for a snack at The Amish Cupboard.