I’ve really been focusing on sights and activities in Virginia lately (that’s because I moved there only two months ago and I’m in the process of exploring this stunning state). Recently, I finally made my way to Shenandoah National Park, only a half-hour drive to the west of Charlottesville, where I did a few hikes. One such hike was the Dark Hollow Falls hike.
This beauty of a hike is rather short—many hikes in Shenandoah National Park are on the short side, because they almost all start off the Shenandoah Skyline Drive—but absolutely scenic. This shortness combined with the sight of a striking waterfall makes the Dark Hollow Falls hike one of the most popular in the park.
Dark Hollow Falls Hike
The trailhead lies off Shenandoah Skyline Drive, one of the most spectacular drives in the United States, at mile marker 50.7. This trail, like so many in Shenandoah National Park, goes downhill first and uphill later. It is, however, no more than 0.7 miles to the base of Dark Hollow Falls, a descent that is pretty easy, but can also be dangerous due to the slippery of the rocks. There are rails along certain sections—hikers are advised to use them.
At 70 feet tall, Dark Hollow Falls is not the tallest waterfall in the park, but it’s certainly one of the most scenic. It is actually made up of a long series of beautiful cascades. These Upper Falls are by far the most impressive. Although hikers can choose to continue down a bit and see the Lower Falls, I wouldn’t say that it’s worth the effort.
The hike back up to the parking lot features a 440-feet elevation change, which might be surprisingly challenging for visitors in less than optimal shape. That said; this is a short trail—0.7 miles back—and it shouldn’t pose a problem at all.
The total roundtrip distance is 1.4 miles. The hiking time is no more than 45 minutes, but because of the waterfalls’ beauty, the outing time for this Dark Hollow Falls hike is more like 1.5 hours. Good to know is that this is an extremely popular trail—the busiest in the park, in fact—and also that dogs are not allowed.