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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, August 08, 2015
Great hike! It was beautiful, fun, and great exercise for our entire group, which consisted of all ages (from 18 mos to 60+ yrs old) However, getting there is a little tricky using the GPS. When coming from Richmond, VA, when you are on Garth Road and you see Piedmont store, stay straight on route 614, DON'T turn onto route 810! You will ride along route 614 for several miles and eventually pass the Sugar Hollow Reservoir on your left the parking areas will be a little ahead.

Watch out for copperhead snakes - we saw two coiled underneath the rocks at one of the swimming holes, but they didn't bother us and we didn't bother them!

By: Sue eckroth Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 28, 2015
This is a beautiful hike especially with some good rain earlier in the week. We went early on a Sunday am and got "last" parking spot. We went up to the falls then on backtracking took left at fork for extra time out on a beautiful day. It's so amazing and a very easy hike ending up doing 7 miles but didn't feel like it. The upper parking lot is closed btw. Only complaints are people coming later in afternoon looking for parking spots and being rather obnoxious, even when we were trying to be helpful. And people with dogs off leash when asked to leash their much bigger dogs so we could pass with our older leashed dog acting like we'd totally put them out. Almost makes me not want to bring my girl. We had a bad experience with a "friendly" dog off leash and do not want a repeat. But a lovely hike and day none the less.

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!

    View all 12 reviews for the Moorman's River hike
Mid August
Mid April (courtesy Jennifer Carr Photography)
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