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Three Falls - SNP, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
9.3 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:

4.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,205 ft
Dogs are not allowed on the Dark Hollow Trail or Nature Trail
Shenandoah National Park
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e.g. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Turn into Big Meadows, follow the signs 0.9 miles for the picnic area and amphitheater. Park next to the amphitheater and trailhead. 38.53070, -78.43966

The Three Falls hike is a circuit that passes Rose River Falls, Dark Hollow Falls, and Lewis Spring Falls. These are three of the most beautiful falls in the SNP. There is also an option of shortening the distance, and vertical gain, by opting out of the Lewis Spring Falls section for a total of 6.1 mls and 1530ft gain.

From the trailhead and parking area walk 75 yards down to the intersection of the white blazed Appalachian Trail (AT). Turn right and follow the AT as it initially winds around the campground. There will be several side trails that lead up to the campground, remain left on the white blazed AT.

The AT will start descending before arriving at the next trail post just before the Fishers Gap parking area in 1.3 miles. Stay straight on the AT passing below the Fishers Gap overlook, then the AT will cross a fire road. Turn off the AT uphill on the fire road and cross Skyline Drive.

Start down the gravel fire road, then after passing the chain gate immediately turn left onto the yellow blazed Rose River Horse Trail. Follow the yellow blazed trail as it descend and makes several switchbacks before arriving at the blue blazed Rose River Trail intersection in 0.6 miles.

Stay right on the Rose River Trail for 0.8 miles to Rose River Falls, which are a set if two 25ft and 30ft waterfalls. Continue down the blue blazed trail for another 0.3 miles to the hikes lowest point, and where the trail turns right and starts following Hogcamp Branch. Shortly pass the ruins of an old copper mine on the right before crossing Hogcamp Branch on a steel footbridge. Begin climbing up the blue blazed trail as it ascends the valley passing several small falls and pools before reaching the Rose River Fire Road and the bottom of Dark Hollow Falls in another 0.9 miles.

Cross Hogcamp Branch on the fire road, then immediately turn left uphill on the blue blazed Dark Hollow Trail. In 0.1 miles reach the mid-point of the falls where there is a fantastic view of the upper falls. Continue up the blue blazed trail and arrive at the Dark Hollow Falls parking area in 0.7 miles.

Immediately cross Skyline Drive and start up the paved Nature Trail. In 100 yards turn left at the sign for the Visitor Center crossing a small stone footbridge. In 0.4 miles arrive at the Visitor Center, and just past that a restaurant and gas station..

The next section can be slightly confusing. Across from the restaurant follow the paved path for the Lodge.

  1. For the continuation of the circuit and Lewis Falls section:
    In 0.1 miles there will be a unnamed road on the left, with a sign
    ' Authorized Vehicles Only'. Turn left down the road for 75 yards then turn left on the yellow blazed Bridle Path Trail. Note there isn't trail signage here.

  2. To shorten the hike and return back to the parking area:
    Continue on the paved Lodge path for 0.9 miles following the road to the amphitheater and parking area.

Continuation of the Lewis Falls section:

After turning left on the yellow blazed Bridle Path Trail, cross another yellow blazed trail in 100 yards. Continue to follow the yellow blazed trail to the intersection of the blue blazed gravel fire road in another 0.2 miles.

Turn right downhill on the blue blazed gravel fire road, and in 0.2 miles reach the intersection of the white blazed AT. Continue downward on the fire road for another 150 yards to Lewis Spring. Turn left on the blue blazed Lewis Spring Trail, as it makes several switchbacks then reaches the Overlook Trail intersection in 0.4 miles.

Turn left to go to the valley overlook, and on the other side of the stream is the overlook for Lewis Falls. Return to the Overlook Trail intersection then turn left on the Lewis Spring Falls Trail to continue the hike.

The blue blazed Lewis Spring Trail will descend for another 0.1 miles before turning uphill and arriving at the intersection of the AT in 1.2 miles. Turn left on the AT, and in 50 yards turn right for the remaining 75 yards back to the amphitheater and parking area.

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Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Three Falls hike:

Hiker Reviews For The Three Falls Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Three Falls hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 31, 2015
My husband and I are very experienced hikers but were looking for a simple hike to do with my parents. The quick trip to Dark Hollow Falls was a perfect hike for us, despite the steep uphill on the return trip. The hike was flowing fully from rainfall and the trail was packed with hikers. Most of the leaves had fallen and the trees were bare so I plan to return to the hike in the spring to photograph the waterfall surround by lush greenery. My Dad is months away from a likely knee replacement, but he was able to handle the steep grade down by taking breaks and using his walking stick. Great hike for all levels!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 29, 2015
Boy am I tired. I'm a big guy and I took my girl and her 5 yr old on this hike. To my surprise the 5 yr old made it through 90% of the hike but do not be fooled this hike is not for beginners. It took us roughly 7 hours for the hike but we took a lot of time at the falls and for lunch. The views were beautiful however the falls were kind of dry. This is only my second hike, previously did he river trail at great falls. The climb up from the second two falls was just killer and I didn't think I was gonna make it lol. We saw a bear but it was on the drive home (it walked right across the road)

Overall we followed these directions to a tee and they 110% work. Thank you for showing us a great day and good luck to all who chose to hike it.

By: Upward and Onward Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 05, 2015
My wife and I started this hike at about noon. The directions were very detailed and thorough, I thought. We clocked the entire hike at 8.75 miles though...not a big deal. Very few people out doing the hike we were doing. 90% of the people smelled of freshly cleaned laundry and cologne. Large congregations of people at each of the falls, not many people on the trail. Saw a small bear while making our final descent to Lewis Falls. Had a great conversation with a couple at Lewis Falls that were in their 80's. Meeting people like this is one of the reasons we love hiking. I hope to be doing this same thing well into my 80's.

Finished the hike in exactly three hours, then stopped and ate at the Skyland restaurant. Great food!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 01, 2015
I really liked the hike - good length with some notable inclines. However, as reviewer Amy noted, during the summer months, the level of solitude is a near zero. Far, far too many people to enjoy. Additionally, if you just want to see waterfalls, go to white oak canyon. Way better in terms of size and overall awesomeness.

By: Amy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 18, 2015
This is probably very nice in the early spring - *way* too busy on a July weekend. We couldn't even enjoy (or really see) the bigger falls because of the crowds. We're talking Old Rag level of crowds of people, including small children and teenagers traveling in packs. Solitude should be a 0.

    View all 37 reviews for the Three Falls hike
Late October
Courtesy Jennifer Carr Photography        
Late April
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