Story by Haley Verdeyen
Photos by Jillian Wright
Henry David Thoreau once said, “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” The Shenandoah Valley is home to hundreds of trails, and countless hikers have trekked through them and seen the sights they have to offer. Here are a few of our favorites:
Dark Hollow Falls
With a 1.4-mile round-trip hike, the shortest route to a waterfall in Shenandoah National Park, Dark Hollow Falls is a quick trip with a big payoff. The source of the waterfall, Hog Camp Branch, accompanies you the entire way, running parallel to the trail. Due to its quick elevation change, there are steps built into the trail that aid in traction and movement. Despite its short length, beware that the hike back is more strenuous than the hike down due to the incline.
Located at milepost 51 on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.
Rose River Loop
This trail follows Hog Camp Branch and Rose River. At around 4 miles round trip it’s a great way to see smaller, unnamed waterfalls and cascades along the trail. Similarly, there are spots along the river that provide great break and picnic spots. Be wary when the trail is wet, due to shifting mud and rocks.
Accessible from the Dark Hollow Falls Trail (milepost 51), Rose River Fire Road and Skyland Big Meadows Horse Trail in Shenandoah National Park.
Bearfence Rock Scramble
The first half of the hike is uphill, complete with bouldering and rocky terrain. To reach the summit there is a level of skill needed to maneuver atop the boulders, but once reached, there is a 360-degree view of Shenandoah National Park. For a less daring hike, try the Bearfence Viewpoint hike that eliminates the rock scramble.
Located at mile 56.4 on Skyline Drive.
Dragon’s Tooth (Walkabout Recommendation)
This 5.7-mile hike is rather difficult because it requires hiking on a rocky section of the Appalachian Trail. The “tooth” is hard to miss, as it rises out of the ground in a steep rock formation. It’s possible to climb but also dangerous. Views of the valleys below are available without reaching the top of the tooth.
Parking is available off of VA 311 at the Dragon’s Tooth parking lot in Jefferson National Forest.
Carvin Cove/Hay Rock (Walkabout Recommendation)
This 8-mile hike has views of the Carvin Cove quarry before the final destination of Hay Rock, which like Dragon’s Tooth, is a magnificent rock formation that can be climbed. The hike itself gets steep and rocky, so vigilance and awareness is key, especially if the views catch one’s attention.
Access available at the commuter parking area in Jefferson National Forest.
Hone Quarry Ridge (Walkabout Recommendation)
There are two ways to access the loop: the Big Hollow Trail and Heartbreak Trail. Either way will yield similar steep and rocky areas. There are several overlooks that provide scenic views of the horizon and forest below, including the Abbie Point overlook, which can be accessed by taking the Hone Quarry Mountain trail.
Parking available in the Hone Quarry Campground in George Washington National Forest.