Hawksbill Mountain
Some of the best vistas in the SNP
Great Virginia Hiking Books!

Hazel River - Central SNP, Virginia

Printable Topo Trail Map
   All Hikes Map
   Click for location shots
   Parking/Start location
   Hike trail
   Other trail

  • Flash_FP1
  • Flash_FP2
  • Flash_FP3
  • Flash_FP4
  • Flash_FP5

Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
9.2 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,090 ft
Shenandoah National Park
Printable Topo Hike Map (PDF)
Sperryville Weather Forecast
Garmin (GDB), GPS eXchange (GPX) (What's this?)
3D View of Route

Park at the Buck Hollow and Meadow Spring Trails parking area. 38.63831, -78.31369

Passing through old growth forest, over the northwest ridge on Hazel Mountain, then descending to Hazel River, this circuit hike starting on Skyline Drive has a wide diversity of scenery. The hike also has the added bonus of being one of the less frequented circuits in this very popular section of the Shenandoah National Park. The highlight is the waterfall and swimming hole on the upper section of Hazel River, but even on the hottest days the mountain water will be chilly!

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

By: EB Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 15, 2019
Hiked this as a beginning backpacking trip for my wife. Did it in two days, it was pretty straightforward. Going counterclockwise around the loop is definitely the right choice. Lots of small streams on the whole loop. Dog did pick up a lot of ticks, but that was expected. There are about three decent campsites at the bottom near the river ford, and another two-three sites on the ridge above the waterfall trail. We camped at the ford, and those sites looked better than the ones near the waterfall. Not too many views, but a very beautiful lush June hike with lots of shade and not too hot.

By: Alex Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 26, 2019
This was a great hike! The steep sections were pretty strenuous but paid off with nice views on the ridge.  The first half of the loop (going off hiking upward directions) is pretty unremarkable, but the ridge after the steep section offers some great views.

DON'T GO TO HUNGRY HORSE LANE!  I initially tried to go to Hungry Horse Lane to hike up to the loop from another trail, as a few posts suggested.  Though it's easy to find, the road is littered with Do Not Park, Private, and Towing Enforced signs.  It was unclear whether that is a truly private road, or those signs are posted by locals trying to dissuade hikers, but I did not want to risk coming back to no car a few hours later.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Don't know what defines a great hike. This was fun for someone up for a challenge. A lot of water and considerable bushwacking. We hiked in from Skyline Drive east on the Hazel Mountain Trail. At the intersection with White Rocks Trail we turned northeast so we did the trail somewhat in reverse. Several trees down on the White Rocks Trail before the falls. At the falls spur, I would suggest you leave your packs at the top and take only what you need to the falls (it is a scramble.) Continuing on White Rocks after the falls, there is a great camping site to the left of the trail. Several trees down on this section of White Rocks Trail before you get to the intersection of the Hazel River Trail. Good camping spot at the intersection of the White River Trail and the Hazel River Trail before crossing the Hazel River although the dampness of the spot leads me to believe it gets a little swamped during heavy rains. Hazel River was at Spring levels so we had to ford the river. Hazel River Trail southwest seemed totally blocked. We continue east along the Hazel River. We found a couple of logs to cross over at one point but all others required fording. (Bring sneakers or watershoes to change out of hiking boots.) Intersected the Sam Ridge Trail heading southeast and then turning back to the southwest. Seemed like we were climbing all the way-constant uphill and switchbacks. Piles of fall leaves led me to believe Sam Ridge Trail is not hiked much. Sam Ridge Trail is measured at 2 miles. Both my senses and my fitbit tells me it is a lot longer. We camped on the mountain just .5 miles before the intersection of the Sam Ridge Trail with the Hazel Mountain Trail ( Not optimum but there are several nice flat spots to the right of the trail.) After we rejoined the Hazel Mountain Trail, we had to do a lot of bushwacking as there were big trees down between here and where the Hazel Mountain Trail intersects the Hazel River Trail. As we passed by the Hazel River Trail we looked northeast down the trail and all we could see were downed trees. We continued northwest on the Hazel Mountain Trail. Several downed trees across the trail that we had to climb over or scoot under. Forded the Hazel one more time. Completed the loop where Hazel Mountain Trail and White Rocks Trail once again meet then headed back to Skyline Drive.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 1, 2018
This was a really nice hike, I always love waterfalls. It's a .2 mile jaunt to see the falls, it's worth it even though it's super steep.

What I will tell you is there are a TON of downed trees right now. There were points where we had to veer from the trail for a while to get around the trees. It can be a bit challenging to try to get around some of the obstacles.

I look forward to doing this in the summer when it's green and lush.

By: Sean Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Took advantage of a warmer winter day to do this hike. The trails are relatively smooth. Just saw one other hiker. Some better views with the leaves off the trees. There were multiple stands of mountain laurel throughout the high that added some welcome green. The falls were nice. The "cave" was a bit of a letdown -- it's more like a rock overhang.

I've been on many hikes nearby of similar distance and elevation change (Corbin Mountain, Old Rag, etc.). On all of those you go up and then down. Those have never been a problem for me. Here you go down first. Getting back up in the last half, for some reason, really wore me out. I note a few other reviewers had similar observations. I took 6.5 hours, a good part of which was taking multiple breaks on the way back up.

    View all 35 reviews for the Hazel River hike
Late November
Mid February
about us | contact us | terms of use | © 2019