Riprap Hollow is one of the best circuit hikes in the southern section of the Shenandoah National Park. The views from Chimney Rock, and along the ridge of Rocks Mountain, offer great vistas to the west and north. The spring fed stream in Cold Spring and Riprap Hollow is very scenic, and has a 50ft wide swimming hole fed by yet another mountain spring.
From the Riprap parking area walk the 50 yards along the blue blazed trail to the intersection of the white blazed Appalachian Trail. Turn right uphill on the white blazed trail for 0.4 miles to the intersection of the Riprap Trail.
Turn left on the blue blazed Riprap Trail as it descends through a hollow on the ridge before climbing and arriving at the first vista point in 0.7 miles. In another 0.3 miles reach the second vista and Chimney Rock. From Chimney Rock the trail will begin to descend into Cold Springs Hollow. In 1.7 miles from Chimney Rock the spring fed stream that has come in on the left of Riprap Trail will pass through a small gorge and over a 20ft waterfall.
After passing the waterfall follow the blue blazed Riprap Trail for another 0.3 miles to a large swimming hole. Just past the swimming hole the trail will cross the stream, and pass a trail marker and an overgrown trail that leads to an old Riprap Shelter on the right. Continue straight on the blue blazed Riprap Trail next to the stream for another 0.7 miles to the intersection of the Wildcat Ridge Trail.
Turn left on the blue blazed Wildcat Ridge Trail and shortly cross the stream again before the trail starts heading uphill through a small gorge. In 0.6 miles the Wildcat Ridge Trail will make several switchbacks and become much steeper, as it follows the Wildcat Ridge for another 2.0 miles to the four way intersection with the white blazed Appalachian Trail.
Turn left on the while blazed Appalachian Trail for the remaining 2.8 miles back to the Riprap parking area.
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Reviews For The Riprap Hollow Hike (5 Most Recent)
Hiked Riprap Hollow and Wildcat Ridge on Monday 10/20/14, then again on Saturday 10/25/14. Headed counter-clockwise from the south Wildcat Ridge parking lot. First 2.5+ miles is extremely boring flat portion of the AT heading along Skyline Drive. If you have 2 cars with your group I'd suggest parking cars at both the south Wildcat Ridge lot and the north Riprap parking lot in order to skip this section. That will cut this long tough hike from 9.2 miles down to about 7.5.
The climb up from Riprap to the lichen rock overlook areas is pretty tough, but relatively short. Views from the top are spectacular, especially along the trail ridge following the rock overlooks. Next couple miles is a very tough steep downhill trek, made even more difficult in this time of year with all the leaves covering the loose rocks. Very easy to twist an ankle if you are not wearing proper shoes. The bottom of the hollow is beautiful, with a decent size stream running along the trail for more than a mile. The last 2+ miles up through Wildcat Ridge are entirely uphill, and are extremely difficult especially because it is the end of this 9+ mile hike.
Saw only about 10 people on my first visit on a weekday, but nearly 100 people on the Saturday in perfect fall weather. Most people park at the north Riprap lot to take the short hike up to the rock overlooks, then head back down. Overall a great challenging hike that I will be doing again in the future.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 06, 2014
Hiked this trail with my wife on a kinda sunny and rainy Saturday. We started the trail at 2:15 and finished around 6:15. Their was alot of thunder and rain in the area so we did not stop much. The trail is rocky, has great vistas, and can be deceptively tough at times. We had one black bear cub cross in front of us on the trail towards the beginning of the trail and another instance of a black bear cub crossing in front us towards the end of the trail. Both times without the mother being spotted. Saw a couple of snakes by the creek as well. Swimming hole looked pretty sweet. Well worth visiting if in the area.
Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 06, 2014
$15 to drive into the Shenandoah National Park. The Riprap parking area is about 15 miles from the south entrance of the park.
Nearby attraction outside the park include many vineyards, breweries, and a cidery. Check out Nelson151.com for details.
The sign at the Riprap parking area describes the hike as "strenuous" and estimates 8.5 hours to complete it. My boyfriend and I were a little intimidated because we're not in the best shape, but we finished in 6.5 hours. That time includes 5 hours of hiking, 30 minutes of breaks for pictures and taking in the scenery, and 1 hour of swimming and lunch. I would not recommend this hike for children as there are stream crossing over slippery rocks, and the hike may be too long for little legs. The weather was perfect! 68 degrees, slightly overcast, not too humid. It was not what we expected for early August.
My advice for this hike: start SOUTH on the Appalachian Trail instead of North as the sign and this site recommend. This will make the end of your hike worthwhile. The loop is much more scenic on the North end, and the South end has you uphill 99% of the way if you start with the North. START SOUTH!
My boyfriend and I packed 1 day pack: a camel back day star containing 70 oz. water, first aid kit, compass, whistle, mirror, map, IDs, sandwiches, apples, trail mix (duh!), smart phones, digital camera, extra battery pack (good for several charges), swim suits, sunscreen, and lipbalm. We're the type that like to over-prepare.
We started going North on the Appalachian Trail as the sign suggested, and it wasn't long before we hit several picture worthy spots. We passed a couple who recommended eating the wild blueberries growing along the trail. We tried a few each, and although they were fine, we had no problem passing the rest without a second glance. A black snake crossed the path in front of my boyfriend, frightening him, but it was harmless.
The swimming hole is absolutely gorgeous!. I've never seen another like it. This swimming hole makes the entire hike worth it. We found a place to change into suits if other people are around: cross the stream toward the rock that looks like a bench (I ate my lunch on that bench rock!) continue up that path slightly to the left and there's an area that over looks the swimming hole (also the perfect place to camp if you're staying long). The water was FREEZING! August water never felt so cold! It was, however, refreshing. I almost didn't want to get it because my boyfriend told me how cold it was, but I jumped in nevertheless. It was totally worth the shiver! If you're planning to hike during the warmer months, JUMP IN!
As we continued on, we still had about 6 miles left. The last part of the Riprap trail was easy and flat. Once we got to Wildcat Ridge Trail, it was ALL UPHILL with no views that compared to the Riprap Trail views. This is why I recommend doing the trail backwards. We were so discouraged, but we got through it. Once the Wildcat Ridge Trail met up with the Appalachian Trail, the elevation evened out. A deer ran out of the bushes and down the trail away from us, so that gave us a pleasant adrenaline rush. I used the app "endomondo" to track our hike, and I think the mileage is slightly off in a few portions. I was closely monitoring the mileage as we were nearing the parking lot. When Wildcat Ridge met up with the Appalachian Trail, the post said we had 2.6 miles until the Riprap parking area, but it was closer to 2.8 miles (0.2 miles can make a girl think she missed a turn!). By the time we finished, we were a little let down by the post-lunch portion. More intense, less views, more mileage. PLEASE START SOUTH! You'll have a more enjoyable hike overall!
I would definitely do this hike again. The Riprap portion made it all worth it. As I'm recommending, I would just start with the other portion and end with Riprap Trail.
I hope I encouraged you to do this AWESOME hike! Best of luck!
Date of Hike: Thursday, July 31, 2014
The last time I hiked this I got stuck in a thunderstorm so I didn't have an appreciation for what this circuit offers. I started at the Wildcat Ridge parking area and hiked clockwise figuring I could get lunch with a view. Until I got to Riprap the hike wasn't much...a lot of foilage and a trail. It gets more interesting along the stream even though there wasn't much flow. The swimming hole had an aqua green color at its deepest point that was so bright I stopped to stare at it a while...and then saw 5 decent size fish swiming around in the same bright water. The initial climb out after the swimming hole is very steep, but not long. After that it's just a walk uphill along the Riprap through some wild blueberry bushes until you start hitting the vistas. I had lunch at the rocks and then finished up the hike. I saw a few people along the way including a couple of late thru hikers on the AT. All in all a very satisfying hike.
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 03, 2014
What a great hike! We arrived at the parking area around 8:30 and several cars were already there. Was worried that we would run into a lot of people but actually only saw a few and most of them were on the section that follows the Appalachian trail back to the parking area. We did the loop counterclockwise as suggested but I think next time it we will hike it in the opposite direction and save the views from the rocks for the end. Some of what made this hike great this day was the fact that the streams were running really high. It made the waterfalls, although small, much more powerful as well as making the creek crossing much more challenging. At several points the trail itself was covered in water and we had to cross one section on a tree suspended several feet above the creek. Nothing like a little challenge to make the hike better. There was a section of the trail where you could see the effects of the recent fire but new plants, in particular tiny irises were beginning to bloom in the area. All in all it was a great hike on a beautiful spring day.