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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

#32 - SNP Three Falls Hike


Having Monday off and wanting to get a good workout in, I headed to Shenandoah National Park to hike the 9.3 mile Three Falls Hike. I had seen this hike highlighted on the Sierra Club Potomac Region's site and penciled it in as one to do soon. Knowing the park would be less crowded on a Monday, it seemed the perfect day to go.

Located in the Big Meadows section of the park, this beautiful hike will offer everything you want from hills, views, streams, wildlife - and waterfalls. Three of the nicer falls in the park - Dark Hallow, Rose River, and Lewis Falls.

I was very happy my oldest daughter wanted to go with me, as we have a similar pace and it makes for a really enjoyable time. We parked at the Visitor Center, checked in with the Ranger on bear activity, weather forecast, and to verify our route and distance, then started off on the first leg toward Dark Hollow Falls.

We found out very quickly that not all of the deer were intimidated by humans, as we walked upon one just as we started off. With temperatures a bit cooler, 64 degrees when we started, we expected animals in the area to be active.

Deer on the way to Dark Hollow Falls
The path to Dark Hollow Falls was in good shape we followed the creek, surprised of the brown trout we saw in its pools.

One of the pools along Dark Hallow Falls trail where we saw trout
We worked our way down until we reached the Falls - a beautiful sight!

We stopped for a water break, then headed onward toward Rose River Falls. It was a beautiful path, with the creek nearby and nice rock formations.

To this point, our hike had been all down hill (the first 2 miles or so.) That would change, as we rounded a corner and started working our way up to Rose River Falls. The path from here became more challenging for the remainder of the hike.

A hike up to Rose River Falls
From high atop. Does not accurately reflect the 67" drop and deep pool at the bottom
The hike to this point was beautiful, and really beginning to turn fun. Uphill we went for a considerable distance, as we headed to Fishers Gap and the Appalachian Trail.

The Appalachian Trail - the classic foot path.

An overlook from the AT
The Appalachian Trail portion of the hike was beautiful. Forest, overlooks, rock formations. Classic, rugged beauty. We followed the AT until we reached the trail head for Lewis Falls.

Lewis Falls Trail was rugged. Jagged rocks, twisting and turning. As we were at roughly the 7 mile mark, you could start to feel this trail work on your tired muscles. This trail seemed less traveled, and the two snakes we saw on trail attested to this.

A portion of Lewis Falls Trail, though not the most rugged

We finally made it down to the area of the Falls. This did not have a natural viewing area to see the Falls as a whole, but at 81 feet, it was the longest falls of the three. Winter would be rough, but likely provide the clearest view.

Obstructed view of Lewis Falls. Very remote and more difficult to get to.
We headed out. 1.5 miles up, back toward where we had parked. Over 9 miles hiked, a beautiful 5 hours on a difficult hike. It's a do-over if you want a workout - and you'll see a number of beautiful sights along the way.

Last Overlook - Last leg 1.5 miles to finish

If you want a great 1/2 day hike, SNP Three Falls Hike is a winner!

Happy Trails!


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