Overall Run circuit passes one of the largest continuous waterfalls in Virginia. The trails also go through picturesque valley streams and meadows making this one of the prettiest hikes in the norther SNP. Also, with Beecher Ridge having one of the highest concentrations of Black Bears in the park, this is one hike where you are most likely to catch a glimpse of a black 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.
Mile 0.0 - 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.
Mile 0.3 - Head 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.
Mile 1.0 - Turn left uphill and cross Overall Run in 0.7 miles. Cross Overall Run again in another 0.2 miles, then the trail starts getting steeper as it climbs towards Mathews Arm. The trail will become very steep with several switchbacks, then passes a small campsite 0.8 miles from the last crossing over Overall Run. From the campsite continue uphill for another 0.3 miles and arrive at the main Overall Run waterfall overlook with 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 arriving at 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 The trail to the left is the no longer maintained portion of the Mathews Arm Trail.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 trail marker and intersection of the yellow blazed Mathews Arm Trail.
Mile 3.4 - 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 arrive a the junction of the Beecher Ridge Trail.
Mile 3.9 - Turn right downhill on the yellow blazed Beecher Ridge Trail as is winds its way for 2.3 miles to the intersection of the blue blazed Beecher Ridge/Overall Run connector Trail.
Mile 6.2 - 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.
Mile 7.5 - 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.
Mile 8.5 - Arrive back at the parking area.
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Reviews For The Overall Run/Beecher Ridge Hike (5 Most Recent)
I've now hiked this trail 3 times- once in the summer and twice in the winter, and I've done it twice clockwise and once counter-clockwise, every time from the bottom. I can say without hesitation that the best time is in the winter and the best direction is clockwise. Here's why- the foliage is pretty dense leading up to the views of the falls and the gorge that they fall into. In the winter your views are much less obstructed vs in the summer at points there's a wall of green. Furthermore, the water flow in winter is pretty strong, and if it's around freezing you get very cool ice formations not only on the falls but also on the areas surrounding the falls due to the freezing mist coming off the falls. But don't worry- there's been no ice on the trails when I've been there. Why clockwise is better- the approach to the steep section is very moderate and scenic as you hike along the trail, and while the steep section is pretty steep, there are a number of switchbacks, and since some sections are pretty rocky, I personally find it easier going up on rocky areas than going down them. Here's another reason- when you go counter-clockwise the yellow trail is just a continuous uphill slog and there's no views or anything of interest to see. So while counter clockwise is not nearly as steep, its constant and long...and boring and for me it was more tiring. At least the steep, clockwise way is over and done with quickly and is punctuated by awesome views of the falls and gorge. Next time I go, I plan to just do an out and back rather than the loop because the yellow trail, even when going clockwise and down hill, is so boring.
Date of Hike: Sunday, January 29, 2017
There is room at the trailhead for about 10 cars, if everyone parks nicely. Back in if you can and park perpendicular to the road. We arrived late at just about 11am to find very little parking left, but a couple groups left as we were gearing up they looked as if they had camped the night before. On the trail, save for at the swimming hole, we saw virtually nobody. At the swimming hole, we encountered a group of four who were confusedly trying to locate themselves on the wrong map (we let them photograph our map) and a whole gaggle of people that belonged to the REI van parked at the trailhead. Fortunately, nobody seemed to be going our direction and we had the trail to ourselves, as you might suspect on a cloud day with temperatures around freezing and random snow flurries.
Looking at the elevation profile and knowing that we like the payoff part of the hike to come in the latter half of our hikes, it made really good sense to hike the circuit counter-clockwise after reaching it via the approach trail. The climb up Beecher Ridge is long and steady, while the drop down from the falls is steep and much shorter. My knees hated the steep downhill from the falls to the bottom, but that was probably better than making the steep climb up, seeing the payoff at the falls, and then still having a longish hike along Beecher Ridge to get back to the car. Highly recommend that you reverse the direction documented here and hike counter-clockwise.
You have to ford the creek three times and at two of the fords, the height of the water because of last weekend's terrific rains had all the rocks underwater. The third had a great log to walk across. We had to bushwhack a bit at one of the crossings to find a place to cross the high water without getting totally wet. If the water is up in cold weather, you're going to want a good pair of waterproof boots and a change of socks just in case. Gaiters might not be bad either.
We've been to Overall Run Falls from above, from Mathews Arm, and hiked a bit of the Beecher Ridge Trail and the AT in the area, but this was the first time coming up from the bottom for us. We really enjoyed the hike, especially the solitude. We were the only people at the falls and that is a rare experience. Great opportunity for me to get great photos of the ice formations along the cliff sides. No fauna at all at the end of January, but bear sign everywhere. It's kind of rare not to see bears around here especially in the spring and early summer when they're particularly ravenous.
Parts of the trail along the creek are very rocky, part time creek beds in fact, so good shoes are a must. The Thompson Hollow approach trail is really sloppy: be prepared for mud unless it is the dry season. The trails are as of this writing all very well marked, freshly blazed, and easy to follow. It would be a feat to get lost here. All in all, a very enjoyable hike.
Date of Hike: Friday, December 23, 2016
Please check out our review of this hike on our blog -- http://wp.me/p8ebJj-t
Date of Hike: Friday, September 16, 2016
This trail is probably better during spring and early summer when it has been raining. Overall Run was almost completely dry. At the overlook we could hear a little water and saw some wet rock but couldn't locate the source. Swimming hole was low, pretty to watch but too stagnant to swim in. Saw two bears while on the Matthews Arm Trail. Only saw one other group of hikers while on the beecher side of the trail. It was a nice fall hike but missed the terrific waterfall views others are talking about.
Date of Hike: Sunday, August 21, 2016
This is by far the best place in Shenandoah mountains to swim and cool down. The pools are big and the falls are very nice. Check out more photos here: http://whatwedidlastweekend.org/ourtripstonature/2016/4/29/overall-run-falls-and-pools