Virginia-Shenandoah National Park: Dark Hollow Falls

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The Skyline drive of the Shenandoah National Park also is filled with parking spots for hiking. Even if you are not planning to go hiking I suggest you wear tennis shoes or hiking boots, just in case and bring water. Why? Because I didn’t plan to go hiking and I still went hiking, without water and in flip-flops. I was in charge of reading the map and making sure we didn’t pass our destination (which was the restaurant at Skyland) Since we did pass it because I thought it was the other restaurant in Big Meadows, we ended up passing a the most popular trail in the Park, Dark Hollow Falls. I thought the name sounded cool especially since there was a waterfall and it was such a small trail. After lunch we went over and began our very slow hike. Roundtrip the trail is 1.5 miles (2.4km), so I figured I’d survive with wearing my flip-flops. Which I did, but I did also trip over a rock at one point and skin my knee pretty badly.

It’s a beautiful hike, most of it running along the river and at one point it stops at an a smooth rocky that overlooks a mini waterfall. They do suggest you don’t go swimming and pets are not allowed on this trail. I stopped at one point because an earthworm was crossing the trail and a huge crowd was coming by, I’m sure I looked odd standing in the middle of the trail just staring down at it. I don’t often see them above ground unless it’s raining, and was sure the group would trample it. After a bit, the hike went steadily down hill, and in some cases, a bit steep, especially with a bleeding knee. But we did eventually make it to the waterfall.

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Not exactly huge, and I’m not sure if by the end of it I considered it worth it. By the time I hiked all the way back by myself (there were too many people  at the waterfall and I had gotten the photo I wanted) I was exhausted, melting from the heat, and ready to curl up in the car with the AC going. But on my way back I stopped several times to rest, since I was moving faster on the way back then stopping every five minutes to take a photo on the way down. Also because on the way up it’s mostly steep rocky uphill. Occasionally I spoke with other hikers, or watched deer out further in the woods, and even at one point spoke with a search and rescue guy who my dad sent to check on us. Overall I probably would have been fine not going. I’m not big on rocky hiking when I’m not prepared to do so, when it’s hot out, and especially when I’ve skinned my knee. I also prefer hiking that doesn’t include a ton of people. Seeing people every once in awhile is kind of awesome, but seeing them nonstop, or a giant group of people sitting all over the stones of the waterfall so you can’t enjoy it for it’s own majesty and not just a place for dangerous group photos, is less awesome.

For hiking make sure you are wearing proper footwear and clothes and make sure you have water at the very least. This trail didn’t circle around, instead it continued on after the waterfall, so at the waterfall we turned back and retraced our steps. Stay safe and hydrated when hiking. The Shenandoah Valley is 200,000 acres of protected land, plenty of which to explore as there are over 500 miles (804.6km) worth of hiking 101 (162.5) of which is part of the Appalachian Trails. Not all of the trails can be accessed by Skyline Drive but from other spots. So plan your hikes ahead of time. Rangers and Search and Rescue do go through all of the trails just to make sure people are okay. Sprained ankles are common and cell service is spotty at best, most of the time there is no service.

 

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