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)
Skyline Drive was closed due to snow and ice, so we approached this hike from the western end of Riprap, parking just outside the park boundaries. This approach adds about 2 miles to a round-trip, with two stream crossings that were made more difficult due to high-water from the previous night's storm. Once we hit the loop, we proceeded clockwise, taking in the swimming hole before climbing up and onto the ridge line, where we enjoyed spectacular views the whole way. We took our time on this section, before turning on to the AT and then Wildcat and picking up the pace to get back to the car before nightfall. The 11.6 miles took us 6 hours, though we probably spent a half hour to 45 minutes resting and another 30 minutes negotiating tricky stream crossings. We were walking in 2-3 inches of snow most of the way, but had no issues with traction- the terrain is not steep enough to warrant crampons. Saw many tracks- bobcat, coyote, turkey, bear- and jumped a couple deer near the end of the hike. This is a great winter hike as the lack of foliage makes for nice views almost start to finish and there is enough cover to protect you from any biting wind. Finding the alternative trailhead is a challenge though- be on the lookout for the cement markers that direct the way. There is one standing at the turn-off from the paved road to the dirt road and another one marking the final right turn and trail head.
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 02, 2013
Did the loop counter-clockwise from the upper lot. It took about 3 and 1/2 hours with my 19 year old son setting the pace. We will be back to enjoy the swimming holes next summer. Super hike.
Date of Hike: Friday, September 27, 2013
Finally had a chance to hike this today. What a great hike! I saw a black bear on Riprap Trail and another on the Wildcat Trail. I did not find the ascent up the Wildcat Trail as taxing as I did the decent down Riprap. In fact, I think Wildcat would be great to run down and then hike back up. Anyway, I had the place to myself except for the wildlife. I didn't encounter any other hikers. Perfect weather and the leaves were definitely turning. I took lots of pictures with my phone. It took me 4 1/4 hours with multiple stops for photos and just taking everything in. This hike is going to be spectacular in a few weeks when the leaves are at their peak!
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 10, 2013
My daughter and I hiked this today and despite the heavens opening up on us we really enjoyed it. We arrived at the parking area around 9:15 and grabbed the next to last parking spot. Shortly afterward we were on our way and shortly after that we stopped dead in our tracks as we decided that a snake crossing the trail had right-of-way. Just after we turned onto the Riprap trail it started to drizzle and it really came down at Chimney Rocks. It poured all the way to the Wildcat Trail so we didn't linger very long at the rocks, falls, or swimming hole. There were several other hikers, including two Boy Scout groups, but it didn't feel crowded at all. We found the Wildcat Trail leg to be tiring. Consistently uphill with only a couple of flat spots. But the description of this hike prepared us for it and the 2.7 miles on the AT back to the parking area were a breeze after Wildcat. I suspect that this hike is stunning in the fall and with fewer leaves the views should be plentiful. Terrible weather, nice challenging hike.
Date of Hike: Monday, July 29, 2013
As a follow up to Russ - we came from the Wildcat Ridge direction today and frightened a little bear up a tree about 1/2 hour into the hike. I didn't know where the mama was and I had my 6 year old with me, so we turned back to the car. This portion of the hike was wooded with some pretty views through the tree branches, and nothing too steep. We didn't make it down to any water though which is always a highlight of a hike. We plan on going back again - maybe starting from the Riprap end next time.