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)
This was a great hike which included a few spectacular views and extended access to streams and a swimming hole. As great as the views were, there were only a couple of lookouts. I would say that the swimming hole and creeks were the highlight of the hike. The swimming hole was cold, but refreshing. I highly recommend doing the hike opposite of what the instructions say, in order to leave the best part for last. The hike took about 5 hours and 15 minutes and is fairly difficult, but nothing unmanageable. There was plenty of wildlife along the way, including moths, butterflies, frogs, toads, fish, and bears (we only saw scat though). We did walk past several other hikers, but spread out over the 9 mile hike, it wasn't so bad. The drive on skyline drive to get there is very nice, but the only real negative about this hike is the cost of $20 to enter. I would say the hike is well worth the money though and I highly recommend this hike to others.
Date of Hike: Sunday, June 28, 2015
This is my third visit to this trail, the first one being a short out and back to the chimney rocks, and the second was the entire loop, as stated here and on the kiosk at the parking center. I am speaking from experience, and I wish I had figured this out earlier, but this whole hike is waaaaaay better if you do the loop backwards. That means starting on the AT going south instead of rip rap hollow. The hike is very easy to navigate with markers and blazes everywhere, so doing the loop in reverse is very easy to figure out. The wildcat ridge trail is fairly difficult and steep, but going towards rip rap was much easier. The downside to doing the loop backwards is the scenic views are closer to the end (swimming hole is about mile 6 when done reverse, chimney Rock is around 7.5) but if I am going to do over 9 miles, I don't want to be bored on the last 6 miles, I want to have motivation to get to the final 3 miles and see the water hole and cliffs!
It was a beautiful day, we didn't get to the parking area until 12:30 and the temperature was so mild, only 75-80 all day! We didn't stop too much, just a pause for snacks, and taking some pictures. We got back to the car right after 6pm, so it took about 5 1/2 hours. When I did the loop with riprap first. I think the time was a bit shorter, because there isn't much to see on the wildcat ridge and AT and so we were motivated to get back to the car and on to blue mountain brewery.
Lots of thru hikers, and overall not crowded but we saw people all day and the parking lot was full when we got there. *A note about parking* you could park at moormans River parking (mile post 92) and catch wildcat ridge to rip rap and take the AT south back to moormans River if you can't park at riprap.
Good hike, nice views, cute little swimming hole, the water is freeeeeeezing cold.
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 23, 2015
This was a very nice hike--Lots of Azaleas and Rhododendron along the trails which were in bloom in a few places and just on the verge of blooming in others. Beautiful to walk along the stream and see the waterfalls. There were quite nice views of the Western Slope and down into the Shenandoah Valley along the hike. This was a fairly strenuous hike with a lot of ups and downs but most of the pitches are gradual and manageable.
About the only negative was that it was quite crowded--but it was Memorial Day weekend so it would be difficult to find a place that was not crowded on this particular weekend.
Ken and Brenda
Date of Hike: Monday, May 11, 2015
This is a good but not great hike. It's a lot of work for not a lot in exchange like some other reviews suggested. Limited views and stopping points and destinations. Best to go backwards since the original plan has all the good stuff right at the beginning. Its very common to go up to cavalry rocks hang out and turn back there.
It's a tough 9 mile hike no matter which way you go. The watering hole is cool, and FREEZING cold. I noticed some awesome camping spots along the water down there so I am not sure why this hike has a "1" for camping, thats clearly not right since there were multiple spots in plain sight. I can't imagine what other spots I may have missed.
If you're looking for a full day of hiking, this is a good way to go. But having done this trail a few times now I think I've lost the thrill.
Today I startled a rattle snake RIGHT on the trail. So thats something to be aware of when walking here. There is nothing like not noticing and startling a rattle snake who was sunning right on the trail.. he jumped up at me and started rattling so loud I could hear him 30 feet back where I had retreated when I noticed him. He was not happy. And then having him not move or change positions off the trail for the next 15 minutes while I plotted a course through VERY thick brush to avoid him. My options were 1.5 miles back to my parking lot, guarded by this terrifying creature.. or 7.5 miles back to do the loop again, at 5 30 pm. Fortunately I got by.. Terrifying at the moment, fun to look back on.
A couple thru hikers on the AT portion of the trail in the morning. Well one was "living the dream" when I asked how he was doing, so I assume he was a thru hiker. The other I talked to confirmed he was. Kinda interesting to meet and see them out there grinding.
Date of Hike: Friday, May 08, 2015
Woke up late and did not make it to the trail until about 11:00. I hiked this trail about a month ago and only ran into one other person on the Wildcat ridge and riprap sections. However, when I arrived at the trail this time, the parking lot had about eight cars already present. I ran into a thru hiker on the AT section named Seeker. He mentioned something about an old man with a pacifier and a teddy bear that stayed at the campsite he was at the night before. He said he was probably harmless, but strange. Did not end up running into him.
By the way, I did this hike going south down the AT first, saving the view for the end. Definitely the way to go.
Made it to the Wildcat Ridge intersection having seen a lot of pink azaleas and it made me happy and supplied me with energy. I stopped there to eat a banana and realized, after seeing many bees buzzing about me, that I was sitting next to a bee hive. I decided to move, because they are bees.
I sang to myself for most of this hike. I had accidentally snuck up on a bear two weeks ago while hiking the Turk Branch Trail and was not looking to startle another bear any time soon. Most people I encountered did not seem to mind.
At one of the creek crossings, I encountered some foreigners. There were four of them trying to navigate their way across, throwing rocks to make a bridge so they would not get their feet wet. I am not, by any means, an experienced woodsman. But, I have played in many creeks and was able to deftly jump from stone to stone fluidly as the foreigners watched in what I like to think of as amazement and was just as quickly on my way to the next obstacle while they were left wondering why they decided to make things so difficult.
I saw some beautifual wild Iris flowers and I think an Orchid? It was right next to the path and not on a tree, but very peculiar looking.
Decided to eat lunch at the swimming hole. There are some big ol' fish in there for it being a creek. I didn't jump all the way in, but I think I will have to go for it next time. The water is cold! I think I weirded some people out that walked by as I was eating lunch in my boxers. Sorry!
The climb to the top was very arduous, but well worth it. Got some pretty pictures and a sense of accomplishment. Took about 4 hours to do the whole thing. Saw a lot more people than any other hike I have done lately, but when everyone is smiling, it doesn't upset my solitude. Will definitely be doing it again!