With over 500 miles of trail, there's something for everyone in Shenandoah's wilderness. Though famous for hikes like a climb up Old Rag Mountain and the jaunt down the Appalachian Trail, the waterfalls in Shenandoah offer their own (and often less-crowded) beauty. Pick one of the five hikes below and spend the day (or week!) chasing waterfalls.
Dark Hollow Falls: 1.4 miles out and backSkyline Milepost 50.7 1 of 6
If you're looking for an easy yet beautiful hike to do with kids, Dark Hollow Falls fits the bill. About halfway down the short and gentle trail you'll encounter an overlook of the falls. Enjoy the beauty but be careful: The rocks are slick and people are injured here every year. Continue down to the bottom of the falls for a better view. While Dark Hollow Falls is beautiful, don't expect solitude here, as this is one of the most popular waterfalls in the park.
Lewis Spring Falls Trail: 3.3-mile loopSkyline Milepost 51.2 2 of 6
Accessible by foot from the Big Meadows campground, this hike is strenuous, with a steep descent and ascent. The trail is rocky (as most trails in Virginia are) but hiking poles will make your trip more enjoyable—and your knees will thank you later. The trail to Lewis Spring Falls ends at an observation point that offers great views of the skinny waterfall and a nice place to eat lunch or have a snack. Keep your eyes open for wildlife on this trail, as black bears and skunks are frequently spotted.
Hazel Falls (and Cave): 5.4-mile out and backSkyline Milepost 33.5 3 of 6
It's not a tall waterfall, but Hazel Falls is still a beauty. It meanders through the mountains, creating a number of wading pools that are perfect for soaking tired feet in the warmer months. The trail to Hazel Falls is flat, and it's a relatively easy hike, making it an ideal place for a trail run as well. Keep your eyes peeled for two caves in the vicinity of the falls, and give yourself enough time to spend an hour or two poking around in them.
Overall Run Falls: 5-mile out and backSkyline Milepost 22.2 4 of 6
Overall Run Falls is the tallest waterfall in the park, cascading 93-feet to the forest floor below. It's best to visit after there has been some rain though, because the falls can dry up in the dry season. In normal conditions, the trail can be wet, so waterproof hiking boots are recommended. For a good view of Massanutten Mountain, make sure to continue slightly past Overall Run Falls to a rock outcropping with a clear vista.
Photo Credit: Tim Lumley, Flickr
Cedar Run Trail to Whiteoak Canyon Trail: 7.7-mile loopSkyline Milepost 45.6 5 of 6
The Cedar Run to Whiteoak Canyon trail is a difficult hike, but you'll get a lot of bang for your buck. This trail passes nine waterfalls, descends into two separate gorges and offers a number of swimming holes for tired hikers to cool off in. The trail is rocky and slick, so go slowly and watch your step. As always, a map is recommended, as the trail frequently crosses paths with other trials and it can be easy to get turned around.