Overall Run circuit passes one of the largest continuous waterfalls in Virginia. The trails also go through valley streams and meadows, no wonder this loop is another local hiker favorite. With Beecher Ridge having one of the highest concentrations of Black Bears in the park, this is one hike where you may still catch a glimpse of a bear in the wild. If you wish to add some more length, and also catch another small pool with waterfall try the sister hike that enters the park from Chrisman Road VA697, Overall Run/Heiskell Hollow.
As of December 2010 access to the Overall Run circuit from the parking area on VA630 has been re-opened. Read about the issue in the Warren Country Report (page 19) here.
From the parking area, walk down the private gravel road following the blue blazes for 0.2 miles where you pass a cable gate. After passing the cable gate continue for 200 yards where the private road you are on crosses a small creek. Turn right onto the blue blazed Thompson Hollow Trail. DO NOT continue upwards towards the house, this is all private property, please stay on the trail.
Start heading uphill on the blue blazed trail and shortly pass a marker designating the Shenandoah National Park boundary. In 0.5 miles from the park boundary, and just past the trail high point, reach the intersection of the blue blazed Tuscarora Trail. Continue straight on the blue blazed trail for an additional 0.2 miles to the intersection of the blue blazed Overall Run/Tuscarora Trail.
Turn left uphill and cross Overall Run for the first time in 0.7 miles from the last intersection. Cross Overall Run again in another 0.2 miles, before the trail starts getting steeper as it begins to climb Mathews Arm. The trail will become very steep as it switchbacks up the ridge, then pass a small campsite 0.8 miles from the last crossing of Overall Run.
From the campsite head uphill for another 0.3 miles and arrive at the major Overall Run waterfall overlook, and spectacular view of the Massanutten Range to the west. From the overlook continue uphill for 0.3 miles passing a smaller set of falls before coming to the next trail marker. The trail to the left is the no longer maintained portion of the Mathews Arm Trail. Continue uphill on the blue blazed trail for 150 yards to the next trail marker and intersection of the yellow blazed Mathews Arm Trail.
Turn right on the yellow blazed Mathews Arm Trail (the yellow blazes may not be visible from the intersection), and shortly cross the top section of Overall Run. In 0.5 miles from the last intersection arrive a the junction of the Beecher Ridge Trail. Turn right downward on the yellow blazed Beecher Ridge Trail as is winds it's way downward for 2.4 miles to the intersection of the blue blazed Beecher Ridge/Overall Run connector Trail.
Continue straight on the now blue blazed trail as it heads down to the valley and Overall Run in 0.6 miles. After crossing Overall Run the trail will continue downstream for 100 yards before turning right upstream, and becoming the Overall Run Trail.
Turn right upstream on the Overall Run Trail is it follows the run on the left bank before passing a side trail in 0.5 miles. The side trail leads to Overall Run and large swimming hole, with a slide before and after it. Stay left uphill on the blue blazed trail, and in 0.1 miles arrive back at the intersection of the Tuscarora Trail.
Turn left retracing your steps past the Tuscarora Trail turnoff in 0.2 miles, then continuing straight on the Thompson Hollow Trail to the SNP boundary, then gravel road back to the parking area in 0.8 miles.
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Reviews For The Overall Run/Beecher Ridge Hike (5 Most Recent)
Great trail for a run. Nice climbs and long downhill along the ridge trail. Waterfalls were running well too. BTW Great directions. Also I would travel this clockwise so the deep stream crossing is last miles not at beginning
Date of Hike: Sunday, January 10, 2016
Did this one because it was close and we had to be back in DC by late afternoon. The weather started rainy and foggy, but by the time we got to the overlook it had burned off and was gorgeous. Started at about 8:30, and we did the loop counterclockwise, going up Beecher Ridge first. The first stream crossing was swollen due to the overnight rains, and we were forced to take off our boots in order to wade. Water was pretty cold, but the day was warm so it wasn't too bad. The rest of the stream crossings we were able to either rock-hop or cross fallen logs. The rest of the hike was pretty standard for Shenandoah, although we had lots of solitude. Only ran into two other people as we were getting ready to leave the falls. When we got back to the parking lot, no one else was there either.
Date of Hike: Sunday, December 27, 2015
Great circuit hike that mixes long periods of solitude (Beecher Ridge) with spectacular falls. We DEFINITELY recommend reversing the direction shown here and doing the Beecher Ridge part of the hike first - that way the falls are the big reward after several hours on the trail. If you do it in the order shown here, you get a tough, technical climb up the switchbacks toward Matthew's Arm, the stunning views of the falls after more ascending, then a whole bunch more miles which, while pleasant, don't have any other real significant aspects. Instead, why not enjoy those miles first, then feel like you've earned the falls and your lunch spot.
Thanks to The Crazy Winter of El Nino, it was seventy degrees on the Christmas weekend day that my partner and I hiked this loop (in the counter-clockwise direction, opposite from how it's described here). Previously, the weekend had featured significant downpours, so there was plenty of water in all the creeks and along the many cascades of the falls.
Going in the Beecher Ridge-first direction, the first creek crossing we encountered was high enough that we doffed our hiking boots and waded through. Brisk, but not as cold as one might expect for December, but that's how this so-called "winter" has been. The remaining crossings were all made with boots intact, either over rocks (slippery!) or in one case over a logfall.
During the first several hours - basically the entire section along Beecher Ridge - we encountered only one other party, and we reveled in the solitude. The bare trees gave plenty of views along the Blue Ridge and Massanutten. That part of the hike is a series of moderately steep climbs interspersed with flat sections, stair-stepping your way up and along the ridge edge. Because the trails are not so steep, the surfaces are much smoother than on the Overall Run side of the trail (saw the "evidence" that equestrians had been along that trail recently).
Finally you get to a height about the same as the top of the falls, and follow the contour along the west side of the ridge until you join up with Matthew's Arm trail (here's where the weekend touristas will park on Skyline Drive and just make the short hike down to the falls, so expect a lot more company).
The great thing about getting to the falls from this direction is they get more and more spectacular as you make your way down. We stopped for lunch in view of the largest drop. The rest of the hike, as expected, is the tough, technical switchbacks down the steepest part of the gorge, followed by a flatter but still technical (i.e. rocky) traverse back to the connector trail and parking lot. Seems like it would be pretty brutal coming up this way, considering how tough it is to descend this way.
All in all a great way to get some decent miles in AND see one of the most dramatic waterfalls in the park, without resorting to an out-and-back route. Our preference is always loop hikes, but SNP is so long and skinny, they can be tough to find. This one, though, is one of the finest. Just do it in the counter-clockwise direction!
Suzy & Tom
Date of Hike: Saturday, December 19, 2015
We hiked this trail on a cold, sunny Saturday a week before Christmas and 2 days after a day of rain. The falls had a good amount of water to make an impressive site and the creeks and swimming holes were full enough to make for an interesting hike. Only saw one other person on the trail. The part leading up to the falls viewing point was steep. The trail is easy to follow and there is adequate signage. We did not see any bears.
Date of Hike: Sunday, November 22, 2015
I hiked this with a friend on Sunday, November 22. The day was dry but a little nippy. Overall, it's a superb hike. The directions on Hiking Upward are excellent unless you can't read, there's no way you can leave the trail, which is well marked throughout. The trail repeatedly crosses Overall Run most crossings are by log (a felled tree) and it is possible to fall in the stream (I did and my shoes were wet for the entire hike). The waterfalls are wonderful, and if it hadn't been November I would have tried the swimming hole (see the directions). It's a very pretty hike, even without the leaves. Two words of warning. First, since the trail is now covered in leaves, there are slippery parts. Second, the uphill and downhill are fairly strenuous, not crazy but still hard.