There is so much to love about Shenandoah National Park, from the rocky peaks overlooking vibrantly-colored treetops to the tranquil forest floor. One of the best things to do in Shenandoah National Park is embarking on one of the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park. And our favorite? Dark Hollow Falls.
The Dark Hollow Falls in Shenandoah National Park trail is an exceptional hike for experiencing a great mix of what made Shenandoah famous. Winding along the route, hikers will experience dramatic local flora and fauna and eventually arrive at a beautiful waterfall with a perfect picnic spot and photo op.
Want to give this hike a go with friends or family? Here is everything you need to know about hiking the Dark Hollow Falls trail!
What to Expect When Hiking Dark Hollow Falls
- Hike Distance: 1.4-mile circuit
- Hike Difficulty: Moderate
- Fees: Shenandoah National Park entrance fee.
This trail has a straightforward entrance from the Dark Hollow Falls parking lot, and it is a clear trail to the falls. This trail is best hiked from April through October to avoid icy trails. Spring is a great time to enjoy some pops of color from wildflowers.
The reward of this short hike is the chance to enjoy views from the top of the falls or climb down to the base and take in a more dramatic perspective of the waterfall. Rumors say that Thomas Jefferson had an affinity for these Dark Hollow Falls in Shenandoah, and spent time quietly contemplating the wonders of nature at this very spot.
Without accounting for time resting at the falls, this hike can take about 1-2 hours to finish depending on your hiking speed. This hike is not long, but the trail can be intense for some. Thanks to rocky terrain and uphill climb, some trail parts are steep, slippery, and uneven.
No pets are allowed, so leave your adventure pup at home for this one! If you are looking for a hike that accepts pets, check out the Rose River Loop trail instead.
3 Tips From The Guides At Front Royal Outdoors:
1. Get there early
This is one of the most well-traveled trails in Shenandoah NationalState Park – so expect some crowds! The parking lot and falls viewing area can get packed, so we suggest getting there before or after peak hiking hours to enjoy a more tranquil hike.
2. Be careful on the return
Contrary to many hikes, the return is more demanding than the approach when hiking the Dark Hollow Falls trail. Young children and hiking newbies may find the climb back out slightly challenging, and the often muddy and slippery trail doesn’t help.
Make sure your group’s ability level matches the trail, and everyone is wearing suitable footwear for a steeper climb out. And if you don’t want to include the steep climb, you can skip heading to the base of the falls and enjoy the views from the top!
3. Lengthen the trip
If you don’t want the fun to end, you can take your time coming back! You can continue past Dark Hollow Fall to the intersection with the Rose River Loop Trail and the Rose River Fire Trail. You will come to a lovely open space perfect for lounging and enjoying a snack before making your way back up the falls and through the trail. This will add about ⅓ of a mile to the overall hike length.
Don’t miss the chance to enjoy the majestic views from Dark Hollow Falls! If you have more questions about how to best experience the beauty of Shenandoah, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or call our office at (540)635-5440.
The Shenandoah River has it all and Front Royal Outdoors has everything you need to have fun on the water this summer! If If you are looking for the perfect activity to cool off after your hike, take a Shenandoah River Tubing trip. If your looking for something that’s great for the whole family, be sure to take a Shenandoah River Rafting adventure this summer. We look forward to seeing you there!