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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)
Review the Moorman's River hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Ridgerunner Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 17, 2015
Decided to do this one on my way home from hiking in the GWNF. Great day to do this hike as it was in the 40's. Nice wide trail through most of the hike with several creek crossing. Not the hike you want to do if you're looking for solitude, but still a good time.

By: Laurie Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 06, 2014
One of my favorite hikes in the SNP area. Very green and decent water flow, even in late summer. Very popular with families and college kids, especially the watering holes, but everyone is very respectful. I have two dogs and they love to swim and wade in the water, so it's great for pets. But I will give one very strong warning- keep dogs close and youngsters even closer. The two times I've been out (Mar last year and this trip), I've run into copperheads on the main trail. So enjoy the green surroundings and great water, but keep your eyes peeled!

By: Barbara G Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 05, 2014
What a beautiful river! Walking was easy, decided to walk through the river and go on with wet shoes. Not a problem! Parking lot full, but other than the swimming holes, trail was not crowded. Filled with nice respectful hikers, people enjoying a beautiful day. The falls were very full! As was the river, with lots of places to wade or cool off. Will definitely do this hike again and again, in different seasons!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 20, 2014
This was a fantastic hike! We started early on Easter Sunday and had the trail mostly to ourselves on the way in. There were 3 stream crossings, shin to knee deep each, but the water wasn't as cold as expected. The waterfall was taller and fuller than we had imagined. I'm sure there is much less water in the summer and fall, but this was an excellent spring hike.

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.

    View all 10 reviews for the Moorman's River hike
Mid August
Mid April (courtesy Jennifer Carr Photography)
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