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Moorman's River - SNP, Virginia


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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
5.0 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
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3.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
460 ft
Shenandoah National Park
The Inn at Sugar Hollow Farm
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Park at the South Fork Moorman’s River Parking area. 38.13932, -78.74967

This area was dramatically changed in June 1995 when 11.5 inches of rain triggered multiple landslides. A great hike for swimming holes and when the water is flowing there are two waterfalls on the Big Branch spur trail. Don’t expect much solitude on this hike as it is popular due to the swimming holes. The Sugar Hollow Dam was used in a scene at the beginning of the movie “Evan Almighty”.

There are two parking areas, one just a little beyond the Sugar Hollow Reservoir on the left on a gravel road and one 0.5 miles up the gravel road (room for about 8 cars). This portion was pretty rutted and had some huge rocks in the road. A car/truck with good clearance should have no problem getting to the 2nd parking area. We began the hike at the first parking area, plenty of spaces. From the 1st parking area, continue walking 0.5 miles on the North Fork Moorman’s Road (gravel road) until you reach the second parking area, the yellow-blazed North Fork Moorman’s River trail is straight ahead.

0.4 miles from the 2nd parking area you will reach a huge swimming hole, impressive even with the lack of water flow in the river in August. For the next 1.4 miles until the Big Branch spur trail intersection you will cross the river about 3 more times.

HU Note: In the Spring with good water flow, some of these crossings might be a little tricky. Good shoes and hiking poles would be beneficial.

Keep your eyes open for other swimming holes and some of the damage from the 1995 flood. At the intersection bear left and you will reach the 1st falls in about 70 yards. The more impressive larger falls is about another 80 yards upstream. Of course “impressive” was relative on our trip due to the time of year and lack of water in August. We have seen photos of it in the Spring and it is impressive. The falls would also have decent size swimming holes.

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To return to the parking area, turn right at the intersection and retrace your steps. We explored many of the other swimming holes on the return trip.

HU Note: If you need an additional workout you could continue on the N.F. Moorman’s River trail by taking a left at the intersection, reaching Skyline Drive at Black Rock Gap in 3.7 miles.

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Hiker Reviews For The Moorman's River Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Moorman's River hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Arrived at the trailhead early on a beautiful morning and it was a good thing as the lot was overflowing when we finished around noon. The hike is easy and a well worn path but nice as it parallels and crosses the river. The hike to the top of the last falls gives a nice place to take a break. The trail past the last falls is uneventful but a nice walk. We went to where the road tuns and on the way ck down once we reached the river it was crowded the rest of the way with swimmers, families and groups enjoying the rare nice weather for the end of June.

By: Martha & Rick Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 29, 2017
This was a lovely hike and easy for us seniors. However, since it was just after some heavy rains, the four river crossings were about calf-deep. Not difficult, just bear in mind you will get your feet wet! The trails were also pretty muddy, some with water running down them as well.

The only scary part of the hike was the parking situation: on Memorial Day, the lot was full, and cars were parked on either side of the skinny winding road leading to the lot, so there was a lot of freaky backing up when you encountered a car coming from the opposite direction!


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 05, 2017
This is a fun, pretty, easy, water-feature hike near Charlottesville that offers big pay off for low effort. Excellent low-key hike for when you want some pretty Virginia scenery and fresh air, without all that pesky UP. Because we went in early March, it wasn't crowded at all...but I don't think I'd go back in peak season, given its popularity.

Important note: There were 7+ trees downed over the trail as we started out. It may take some time before they get cleared away. They are passable, but should be noted. See our blog for more about our experience (and photos):

http://wp.me/p8ebJj-BJ


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 02, 2017
This is always a fun little hike for me as a local. Over the years I've done this trail more times than I can remember, but I recommend avoiding weekends and any nice day between April and October. This area has become so popular it is now abused. If you are looking for a peaceful hike on a nice day or a swimming hole without noise, those days have long since past for this one.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, October 05, 2016
Please note that the second parking lot is permanently closed to cars, at the first parking lot there is a gate barring access. The water flows are variable, I've hiked it 4x since July, and have found the streams either easy to ford on dry boulders or completely submerged by water, requiring the removal of shoes if you want dry feet. Just keep the recent rainfall in mind. The people I meet on the trail are always friendly - and there are always people - but the density of humans drops off precipitously after the second watering hole. Going up to the Big Branch Falls I find the solitude increases exponentially.

    View all 18 reviews for the Moorman's River hike
Mid August
Mid April (courtesy Jennifer Carr Photography)
 
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