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Overall Run/Heiskell Hollow - SNP, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
12.7 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
6.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,390 ft
Shenandoah National Park
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Parking is at the end of graveled Chrisman Road (VA-697). 38.78000, -78.35672

Our first hike of the year in January proved to be a cold one, but due to the cold we saw the Big Falls at Overall Run mostly frozen, beautiful! This is a longer alternate route to its sister hike, Overall Run/Beecher Ridge. This hike has just about everything you would want in a hike: streams, swimming holes, falls, vistas, homestead ruins, etc.

Hiking this trail at any time of the year would be enjoyable. We pictured ourselves taking a dip in some of the huge swimming holes when the weather is warmer. If you have done Overall Run before, come back out and try this route, over half of it is on new trails, you will not be disappointed.

Parking is at the end of graveled Chrisman Road (VA-697) and is really just side of the road parking, if done well you could get 4-6 cars parked here. Do not block either of the farm gates. The trail begins at the first gate, there is a yellow blaze on the fence beside the gate, go through the gate (close it properly)and head to the left towards the brown Heiskell Hollow sign, the trail bears to the right of the sign.

You are on private property for 0.3 miles until you reach the Shenandoah NP Boundary gate, so please be respectful and stay on the trail. From the SNP boundary you will be following East Fork Creek, passing remnants of a homestead/fireplace and stone wall on the right, and in 0.4 miles from the SNP Gate you will reach a small falls and swimming hole (Mile Mark 0.7). Continue on the trail crossing the creek about 3 times for 0.8 miles and then bear to the left staying on the trail, DO NOT continue straight (MM 1.5). Note: All other intersections on this hike will have SNP concrete intersection posts. In 0.4 miles beyond this intersection reach the the first intersection with a post and continue straight on the Heiskell Hollow Trail (MM 1.9).

The trail to this point has been very gradual, but the next section you will start to climb, gaining 1100' feet in 1.7 miles reaching the next T-intersection MM 3.6. Go left onto the Weddlewood Trail. Continue climbing reaching the highpoint (2670') of the trail at the next intersection in 1.4 miles (MM 5.0), bear left onto the Mathews Arm Trail. Go 0.5 miles, passing the Beecher Ridge Trail intersection on the left (MM 5.5), bear right staying on the Mathews Arm Trail and in an additional 0.5 miles bear left onto the Overall Run/Tuscarora Trail (MM6.0). This trail will start to descend very steeply reaching some great overlooks of the falls  in another 0.5 miles (MM 6.5). There is a side trail that gets you a little closer to the Falls, be careful, great stop for lunch. We did this hike in January and saw the falls frozen. There are some great views of the Page Valley with the Massanutten Range in the background. From June on the Falls can be barely a trickle without some sustained rains, so the ideal time to see the falls is January to May.

Continue to descend and in 0.3 miles off to your left is another small overlook with a possible campsite just below that. The trail continues to descend rapidly and reaches the Thompson Hollow Intersection in 1.6 miles, continue straight (MM 8.6). In about 0.10 miles after the intersection is a side trail on the left to a large swimming hole and slide. The next intersection is 0.7 miles from the swimming hole, bear hard left onto the Beecher Ridge Connector Trail (MM 9.4). The elevation is 800' at this intersection and besides the parking area, this is the low point of the hike. You will have a short but tough 0.7 mile hike up to the Beecher Ridge Trail Intersection (MM 10.1). Bear to the right, heading to the Heiskell Hollow Trail, reaching that in another 0.7 miles (MM 10.8). Turn right onto the Heiskell Hollow Trail reaching Chrisman Road parking in 1.9 miles (MM 12.6).
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Hiker Reviews For The Overall Run/Heiskell Hollow Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Overall Run/Heiskell Hollow hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 14, 2018
The first time I ever saw a black bear in the wild was on this hike! None this time around, but there were lots of people enjoying the swimming holes (so endearing to see little ones and doggos and grown folks playing, laughing, setting up hammocks, loving life). The cold of the water will take your breath away, but in the most delightful way -- especially when you can dry off on the rocks and soak up some Vitamin D on an 80 degree day.

The hike itself ain't so bad for almost 13 miles. With breaks and about an hour of water playtime, it took my brother and I 6 hours to finish (note - he'd never hiked more than 5 miles, so this is totally doable for anyone reasonably in shape). The last climb is a wonderful ass kicking after playing in the pools. Most of the trail was pretty quiet for a Saturday, with the exception of the falls/overlook, and where it intersects with Beecher Ridge (shorter version of this hike). The trees haven't quite filled in, so there wasn't much shade throughout the hike (quite welcome after the many cloudy days we've had). Paler friends, bring sunscreen! Everyone, bring bug spray! And lots of water! And an open heart (always bring that :)

Such a lovely hike - go do it. And THANK YOU to the folks who allow us to park and start on their property <3 Namaste!

By: J Hicks Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 27, 2017
Ticks... While I don't believe ticks are worse on this hike due to some weird ecological issue, I will say they were very bad today. Worst I've seen this year. Also, unless you want to take your socks and shoes off 13 times, don't do this hike even a few days after some rainy weather. Eventually I just decided to finish up with wet feet. Just pulled two more ticks off me that are escaping my treated dog. Ugh...

Saw quite a bit of wildlife including turkey, bear coming down from a tree, owl, heron, rattlesnake and amazing small birds. The first 6 miles goes up, up, up. Makes for a great workout.

Word about the start/finish... There were cows in the field you need to traverse to get to the forest boundary. At first I thought about bagging it but decided to just give them space. No problem and then I came across a very large bull. Fortunately he wasn't interested in me but I would recommend caution if he's out.

Enjoyed the hike. The ticks and wet feet not so much...

By: Savage Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 09, 2016
Living on the Page side of the mountain this access to these trails is perfect, BUT BEWARE!!! After the initial 2-3 miles through the "backcountry" til you get to the connecting trails. My 6 month old Weimeraner dog was COVERED in ticks. I pulled about 20 off there at first intersection. When we got to the falls I pulled another 10-15. By the time we got home and bathed and went to bed I pulled almost 100 ticks off the dog if not more. About 5 on myself, Ive always stayed well covered as you should if you travel this trail in warmer months as the trail gets narrow and overgrown in spots. Ive been hiking for 15 years and I've never seen anything like that with ticks. Large and also small ticks that you can barely spot. Other words, I wouldn't advise taking a pet if they aren't protected. Although he is, I am contacting my vet for any other precautionary measures. Sadly, I do no think I will access these trails from Heiskell Hollow again unless it is in the winter months when ticks aren't bad, hopefully. Alot of wildlife travel the trail, which I suspect makes them so bad (deer, bear), and it could very well be tick season? Hike itself is a bit challenging if you aren't a regular hiker. I went on a Wednesday, so other traffic on the trail was minimal. Came across 4 others from Skyline Drive access and campgrounds.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 23, 2015
Relatively easy (albeit somewhat long, beware) hike, though the mile markers as listed in the description seemed inaccurate (felt shorter).

Parking was as described, and room is tight. (There were, however, no other cars there when we arrived, a truck with horse trailer arrived as we set out, and no other cars when returned - so despite seeing many people on the trail, this particular access may be a relatively well kept secret.) We did our best to take up the least amount of space possible, making sure cars would have room to turn around. The first part through private property and a cow field notably felt a bit awkward, but the trail was marked. The parking gave the illusion of a very secluded hike, but in that regard we ended up disappointed.

Initially there is a number (4 or 5) of stream crossings (wise to bring a second pair of socks). The long climb in the early part is very gradual, and - with the exception of a few spots - not challenging, particularly relative to other trails I've hiked in the area. From the start to the end of the initial climb was the most pleasant and secluded, walking through quiet and beautiful woods.

However, once at the highpoint, turning left onto the Matthews Arm Trail, the trail itself became very wide and busy, with lots of walkers (I suspect from a nearer parking lot given the many small children) heading to the Falls. At the Falls, too, there were many people. We notably made the mistake of stopping at the first indication of the Falls for lunch, rather than carrying on for the better Page Valley and Fall views half a mile further, where despite the crowds people weren't so tightly packed together.

Past the Falls, the trail descends steeply, eventually with switchbacks, before leveling out and following the stream . In this part the description seems inadequate, given particularly the many little trails to campsites or overlooks that dart off to the side, as well as people near and off the trail. We were concerned that we had lost our way, but the route actually ended up being intuitive.

The final .7 mile climb nearing the end of the hike is quite steep but brief, and toward the final third or quarter we had more privacy again.

Overall, it was a good hike. However, I found it to be not very challenging, too busy, and with disappointing outlooks (which we couldn't really enjoy, anyway, because of the crowds, noting that we were there on a holiday weekend, in perfect hiking weather). I enjoyed it but wouldn't consider it a great hike to do again.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 02, 2015
This was a great hike, that like described in previous reviews contains a little bit of everything. Finished this in right at 6 hours, including some time for pictures and lunch at the falls. Saw about 20 people over the course of our time on the trail. We were the only people parked at the Heiskell Hollow trail head though.

No sign of ticks but I'd definitely be conscious of them, especially as it gets warmer. Most of the Heiskell Hollow trail is thick with dead leaves. There is a fair amount of dead fall on the trail as well. The water level wasn't too high during our trip, so crossings were not that difficult. It's definitely something to take into account though before you head out for this trail.

The views of the falls are amazing and i'd love to come back in winter and see them frozen over. I also highly recommend taking the small side trail to the rock slide and swimming hole at mile marker 8.6!

One last thing. The cows at the trail head are friendly and mind their own business.


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Early January
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