Ahhhh, my first trip to Shenandoah National Park, in northern Virginia. Living just one state to the south and seeing waterfalls in nearly 20 states, it would be assumed that this place would be checked off the list years ago. But, just like the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in my home state, I often opt to avoid the large crowds that these places attract. In late May 2022, the climate was just right, the leaves had just the right blend of that pretty fresh spring green, and lot of recent rain in previous days, made it the perfect time for a midweek trip to finally explore some waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park.
After setting up a room to stay in Harrisonburg, VA, I was off to the great Skyline Drive. It runs something like 105 miles along the mountain tops of the Shenandoah National Park. It pretty much seems to parallel Intersate 81 about 30 miles to the west, way down in the valley. This Skyline Drive is similar to its brother just to the south, the Blue Ridge Parkway. These two are actually the same road meaning that one takes off where the other ends. The biggest difference is that the Skyline Drive charges $30 per car for 7 days, while the BRP does not. While disturbing at first, I later learned the next day while the fog temporarily lifted, that the Skyline Drive is prettier and much better kept up than the Blue Ridge Parkway. Is it worth it? Maybe so, I think I am split on the issue.
Anyway, I accessed the Skyline Drive from US 33 leaving town headed east. Once there, I headed north on the Skyline Drive. It was an incredibly foggy, soupy afternoon up there, and visibility was minimal. I was asking myself why I was up there, and doing this. I made it as far to the Dark Hollow Falls Trailhead which is very close the Harry Bird Sr Visitor Center around mile marker 50.7. This was good enough for me, I was tired of driving through the thick fog, and need to take a break and hike.
The trailhead had some nice info about the hike, listing it as 1.4 miles round trip and moderate. The official listing from the National Park Service can be seen here: HTTPS://www.NPS.gov/thingstodo/dark-hollow-falls.htm It is steep, all downhill getting there, which means all uphill getting back. While steep, its nothing compared to some other places I have been. The shortness really limits the difficulty here. It was however quite wet, which made the descent somewhat slippery. The trail follows Hogcamp Branch, which is the source of the waterfall. The stream seemed way to small to support any kind of waterfall of any magnitude. Boy was I wrong thinking this. About halfway down, just before the steepness picks up, I came to this. The view of the top….certainly NOT the view I came to see.
So, down I went. After some steep downhill trekking and a few switchbacks, there it was…..Dark Hollow Falls. It was a thing of beauty with lots of water flowing. It was certainly better than I was expecting. I do like surprises like this. This was a great introduction to the waterfalls of Shenandoah National Park.
This is listed as a 70 ft waterfall, and I was amazed. It was so much nicer in person than the photos I flipped through. As a plus, the photography conditions were nearly perfect. With all the rocks being wet, getting a good place to set up for photo taking was a tiny bit challenging, but I was able to put something together.
There was a smaller waterfall just below the main drop which was also just gorgeous, especially with the larger one just in the background. I navigated some more wet rocks and found a position to photograph theses. After this, that was about it. I returned to the car, hufffing and puffing a tad but nothing too bad. I then headed back to the city of Harrisonburg for dinner, rest and a full day of exploring planning for the next day. The three images of Dark Hollow Falls are available for purchase on a variety of formats and gift ideas. Please check out my site Https://chris-berrier.pixels.com if interested.