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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:
3.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
460 ft
Shenandoah National Park
The Inn at Sugar Hollow Farm
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e.g. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
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.

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)
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By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 18, 2014
Hiked this trail on a cold and sunny Saturday. I have been on this trail many times, and I find it beautiful. If you live in C'ville it is a must see. The day I hiked it I knew water might be high but unlike myself I was not prepared. The stream crossing were not technical but def. a lot of water. My feet go wet, so what right? It wasn't until walking back I ran into some other hikers with dry feet and jeans. I wondered how did they not get wet? Well, there is a unmarked trail to the right prior to the first stream crossing, this "social trail" will allow you to avoid the first two stream crossing. I'm usually good about staying on marked trail but ....I guess the local people know about it. Great trail and it is must see, next time I'm going to hike to Skyline Drive, I just need to start earlier than 2:00pm.

By: Ren Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Been hiking this trail a lot. The north trail to the waterfall is much better than the hike to blue hole. Not too many people and many swimming holes. You can find more private areas if you go off the beaten path. As a day hike, it is my favorite and easiest to get to from Charlottesville.

By: Dana Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 12, 2013
Used to go there in 1969 and never knew there was a hike. What did Lou Reed say?Those were different times.
Anyway we went yesterday not knowing there even was a hike and unsure about walking in the stream. After a series of fortuitous events we plunged into the water and walked to the Falls with our dog.
It was great, the waterfall was spectacular.The water was high, easy to wade but sort of anomalous in that most of the time when I have seen the Mooremans it is a trickle not a stream, today I'd call it a creek.
Yeah lotsa nice people and it was Mothers day. You gotta get your feet  wet to see the falls but definitely worth it.

By: nature mom Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 13, 2013
great hike with husband and child! lots of water to cross...luckily we went upstream by the parking lot areas and found a large tree to walk across before circling back to find the old road. Other crossing was across rocks. fun adventure!   Wonderful stop at "blue hole"(as my husband remembers it from when he was a child) for lunch. could of spent more time there but daylight was ending... thankful for a day in January with nice weather!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 11, 2011
This was a nice easy hike. It's not steep, and the trail is well maintained (albeit rocky in spots). I would heed the advice about the road in, and parking area- It's dirt, rocky and rutted as described. I wouldn't drive my Toyota in there, although many did.

There are three river crossings in all so wear shoes that can get wet. The second crossing is the swimming area. The water was wonderful!! Clean and clear. The rest of the trail was about 2 miles long to the "intersection", then 2.5 miles back to the car.

Garth Rd/Barracks Rd was beautiful and made getting there half the fun. It was a nice outing all around and I would go again. If you're an experienced hiker looking for a challenging experience, this wouldn't be for you. Weekend warriors and families should enjoy it.

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Mid August
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