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Hiker Comments for the Hazel River Hike - 1 to 35 of 35   
Average Rating:

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.

By: Beth Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 28, 2016
TICKS GALORE!!! There was an area within the first 3 miles of the Hazel River Trail where the trail was not well established and your legs consistently brushed up against foliage. I got ticks EVERYWHERE! I found 5 on my head, more than a dozen crawling on my clothes, on my skin under my clothes. Not to mention, I had two dogs with me and they were covered in ticks! Even if there were no ticks, I still would not recommend the Hazel River trail. There is nothing to see until you get to the large river crossing where you may have to wade through, and then at that point you're less than a mile from the mountain top over look. Before then, any stream crossings mentioned are so small I would consider them insignificant. You do not follow the Hazel River. Most of the time, it is not within sight or hearing. Only a couple of times can you hear it, and as mentioned up above, all crossings except for the one big one, are tiny and insignificant. After completing this trail, if I could do it again, I'd start down Hazel River trail then take the first left onto the White Rocks trail instead of continuing straight down the Hazel River trail, because at that point, White Rocks will take you to the Cave Falls, which was the highlight of this trip, and after that is the mountain top views along a mountain ridge. If you want, you can go a little further to see the hazel river and wade across it, but really, that is all there is worth seeing on this hike and going further is complete waste of time, not to mention the ticks you'll encounter if you do!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 19, 2015
I did a variation of this hike that was more difficult and a few miles longer. Started at Broad Hollow trail off SR681 (this site also has a hike for that), hiked up to White Rocks trail, and then descended to the Hazel River. Instead of coming up that trail though, I took the Sams Ridge trail back up, then took the Pine Hill Gap trail down with a short (.5 mile) road walk back to the car. All told (with the waterfall side trip) it was almost 14 miles, with 4100 feet of elevation gain...took about 6.5 hours. Sams Ridge was a long slog up, I wouldn't recommend unless you were looking for an extra work out (I was). White Rocks look-out was awesome, even though you are low in elevation the view is panoramic. The big plus was that I didn't see anyone until about a half-mile from my car. I was in total solitude all day.

By: aldikuma Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, November 19, 2015
Usually you can expect several people on any SNP hike, but I didn't see one other person the entire time. Granted, it is mid-November and the leaves are all down, it's a Thursday, and it was drizzly and foggy all day, but I was pleasantly surprised to see no one else. I do think most people just hike down to the waterfall and back, though. I really liked this hike, as it had a bit of everything. On the ridge, the fog obscured any views, but I'm sure they were beautiful, and the mist and fog in the trees with no wind made it feel peaceful and quiet. There are several water crossings, and it may take finding a downed tree bridge a bit off the trail to make it across when the water is high and covering the rocks. I strained my knee on the long descent and it was a little difficult to manage with the leaves covering the scree and the rain dampening everything, but I wouldn't say the was a super challenging hike - maybe more around a 4 rating. The steep ascent doesn't last long, but there are a lot of short inclines after that one so it can wear you out by the end. Five hours is accurate to complete, but if you're a newbie hiker, I would recommend setting aside 6-6.5 hours for this hike. Best part was stopping at an overlook after to see the fog in the valley below at sunset - stunning!

By: CVB Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 25, 2015
Fantastic hike for the summer! Hiked this with my girlfriend, who is new to hiking, so I was hesitant at first given the difficulty rating. Don't let it scare you! While this is strenuous and certainly shouldn't be someone's first hike, I'd venture to say that most hikers will be able to handle it if they take their time. We did the hike as written and it gets better as you go starting off as a standard forest hike without much elevation change at first. Just know that you will deal with spider web after spider web at this first portion, which seems to be hiked rarely. The river portion is a fantastic area to take a break and possibly even swim, though we opted to swim later on at the falls. We did this in the middle of the summer and while there were not many views given the dense foliage, you could see some of the surrounding mountains at times and I imagine it would be gorgeous in the spring or fall. The portion that earns this hike its "strenuous" rating is the steep incline at the end of the river coupled with the fact that the rest of the trail is mostly uphill. After the initial steepest portion, though, it levels out and continues with only modest elevation gains. We saw a young bear at the top of the initial steep portion. While you will likely be tired, don't skip out on the falls/cave hike! While its a steep downhill trail, the falls are great and have a few spots to swim. The only other hikers we saw on the whole trail were at this spot, and there were a lot of them, but otherwise it was a great hike to find some solitude. I recommend having a stick to help with the climbs and spider webs if you go on this hike.

By: G Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 28, 2015
I don't like water crossings for the sake of water crossings, and this trail has plenty of that. However, it's a real nice hike with a couple caveats.

As of my hike date, the Hazel River Trail segment was in need of attention. 5 large trees blocked the trail at a few different points. The last three river crossings weren't safely passable without wading in 6-12 inches of fairly fast water. I had to go off-trail to find a suitable crossing point for one of the crossings - even wading would be dangerous. The crossings may be a seasonal issue and the park will likely fix the trees soon enough. For now, I strongly suggest bringing reliable hiking sandals and switching in to them once you get to the river trail and switching out just before you start the steep climb.

I agree with some others - this trail is not easy but the steepness is a bit overstated. The steep section is right after the Hazel River Trail segment and while quite steep is mostly graded with a few small flat sections to catch your breath. Much easier than stone step steep sections (like those on the Cedar Run/White Oak trail). Honestly the toughest part was going down to and up from the falls. Very steep stone steps. But you shouldn't skip out on the falls - it's a real nice lunch spot.

Once they fix up the Hazel River Trail segment, this is a 5 star hike. Until then, make sure to prepare for the tricky Hazel River Trail segment and a couple tough steep sections.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 12, 2015
Followed @Odospamkill's advice (thanks!) and shortened the hike into a neat 8.5-mile loop with the challenging climb early on by parking near Hungry Horse Lane (plugged into WAZE navigation app for directions with no problem). This has you starting at the bottom of the loop and cuts out the back-and-forth connection to Skyline Drive. The final stretch of driving to Hungry Horse Ln was a bit intimidating due to dirt road, leaving me wondering if I was in the right place or if I'd miss the parking / trail-head. The road, however, is well maintained and easily passable in any car (though probably not advisable after significant rainfall) and there's no way to confuse or miss the spot. Walk about 0.2 miles up Hungry Horse Lane and the trail-head is on your right (not immediately after the National Park sign where a path crosses the river, just up from that). There are multiple river crossings and not always good rocks to stay dry, so had to get a bit creative finding the right spots to cross. The hike starts off very easy and beautiful through the woods for about 2/2.5 miles. Always keep right, cross the stream one last time and then climb. It is steep but quick, and well maintained. Going down to the Falls is the first left after the climb. It is 0.2 miles out of the way in each direction, and also very steep. The Falls themselves were underwhelming but still worth the detour. Back on the main path, stay left at the next intersection, straight at the one after that (Hazel River trail goes off to the left, keep right and instead take a left about 0.1 miles later at the next intersection onto the blue-marked Sam Ridge Trail). The next intersection keep left, going back down to meet the trail again just past the trail-head at Hungry Horse Lane. I printed the map / directions here and figured the route out easily despite the modified approach. Given a relatively late start we didn't encounter any other hikers. The overall difficulty was moderate, the climb not tough, but the river crossings are a challenge, the descent also steep, and the trail wasn't always well maintained (many large fallen trees). I would not recommend the hike for anyone with knee or balance problems or for young children. A great hike, would definitely do it again, with many thanks for the recommendation for the shortened loop.

By: odospamkill Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 9, 2014
We decided to shorten this hike by starting at the bottom and cutting out the out and back to skyline drive. There is maybe space for 4 cars to pull off Rte 600 near Hungry Horse Ln. You go up this road to the trail-head. You have to cross Hazel river about 7-8 times. Even with low water, some crossing are not easy - best to just walk through the water. The stream is pleasant company for the first quarter of the hike. The trail going up to the ridge is steep but easily done because you tackle it right in the beginning.

The falls are not to be missed even though the trail going down is a bit steep. It is well maintained with steps. There are a couple of caves at the falls.

The next half of the trail is mostly gentle up and down or flat. The trail is narrow and you are surrounded by thick growth most of the way.

Sam Ridge trail is Bear Alley. We saw at least a dozen bearscat in span of a mile. We also surprised a Bear and its two cubs who promptly climbed up a tree right on the trail. Mama and the 2 cubs then settled down to watch us closely. After some debate, we concluded that the bears were high enough to not feel threatened, and we walked past them. Besides the falls and the bears, we saw a tortoise, a small snake sunning itself on the trail. No rattlers.

The descent from Sam Ridge is steep, but ends soon. The total distance is about 8 miles, and elevation gain is probably about 1800 ft.

Overall, a very nice hike with a good variety of flora and fauna. We saw only one other group on the trail.

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 7, 2014
So I got up early and made it out to Skyline Drive at sunrise...wanted to see nature's morning extravaganza at Hazel Mountain Overlook...but was under re-construction...Buck Hollow Overlook a mile or two north was nice enough...a bit foggy in the valley but quite impressive...

Could have started the hike as this site recommends at Meadow Spring Parking...but I decided to exit the Drive and begin at the perimeter at Hungry Horse Lane...Private...but two spots to park near the Hazel River Bridge on Gravel Road 600...Woodward Lane is the local hiking up Hungry Horse Lane is a nice stroll...alongside Hazel

River...beautiful...a house to the left...and one to the right...and you enter the SNP at the Hazel River Trailhead... For SNP perimeter parking and access...this is a must download...

I cannot give this hike a 5 for difficulty starting here...but it is well worth it because the steep descent down Sams Ridge is the end...HIking Hazel River is easy...the White Rocks Trail is a steep ascent up Hazel Country to the Mountain...and the .2 mile descent to the Cave Falls is steep...but manageable...especially for..".the amphitheater" the bottom...delightful falls...and wow...a cave...

Back up as the ascent to the summit...or just below the summit of Hazel Mountain...gets you through to Sams Ridge Trail...and the last quarter of the hike is a 1,500 feet descent which is done in only 2 miles...very steep descent...but done and out...instead of down Skyline Drive and then up the Hazel River Trail...much more difficult...

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 19, 2014
First things first...I got there at 8:30 on a Saturday morning and there were 3 cars. When I finished my hike around 1:30 the parking area was jammed with cars parked everywhere. I didn't realize the hikes starting here were so popular. The hike itself was great. There's not much to see until you get to Hazel River, but after that this circuit dishes out a lot. Before you get to Hazel River, be prepared for several steep descents on the Sam's Ridge trail, especially the last mile or so. My knees were beginning to ache and it was a relief to finally walk some flat and gently ascending trail.  The climb out after the final river crossing was as steep as promised. Very strenuous and the climbs keep coming all the way to the ridge. The ridge itself offered some nice views of the surrounding mountains. At one point there is a very short unmarked trail to a big rock (on the right) that you can climb to get better views and pictures. The climb down to the waterfall was the steepest set of rock stairs I've climbed, but the view of the waterfall itself was worth the climb back out. From that point the hike is relatively easy. There are still some uphill climbs, but none as steep as what's already been climbed. My GPS measured ~2600 vertical gain on this hike which is 450 feet more than the description here. Regardless of how much it is, it's not the total that is bad. It's that almost all of it happens over a short distance. Overall a real tough hike in spots, plenty of easy terrain to get your legs back, and a good waterfall and decent views.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 21, 2013
Well, that was a day's work. I hiked it this weekend for the falls, but took the long loop for the exercise. Both needs were met in spades! The hike is really nice, but it is a brutal climb out. I'm 55 and not totally over the hill, but I took many "catch my breath" breaks. The river was up, what with the melt, so I had to wade three of the crossings, which didn't make the climb any easier (wet socks and shoes). But the payoff was the falls, the full river meant beautiful falls, roaring over the rocks at almost ear-splitting volume. I only saw one hiker on the trail all day, and that was on the Sams Ridge portion. I'd suggest if you're only interested in the falls, think photography, reverse the route and go the short way. You'll need a tripod and maybe some filters, so the extra weight will make the prescribed route a little tougher. Trust me, I lugged a photo backpack the whole way.

By: Anne Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 24, 2013
A beautiful hike but no kidding - if you do the hike as written it's a tough one. I'm in very good physical condition and I was beat at the end of this hike. But the waterfall was as pretty as any I've seen and I enjoyed the challenge. Be sure to wear long pants. We saw a lot of poison ivy and we were poorly prepared as we were in shorts (because we don't usually encounter poison ivy on these well-traveled SNP trails.) We were carefully trying to avoid it. Guess I'll know in a few days if we were successful.

By: SarahT Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 4, 2013
We decided to do this starting at Hungry Horse Road off of Route 600 instead of from Skyline Drive. This worked well, as we had lots of fresh energy for the climbing. Had a cold dip in the pool under the falls. Hardest part was the steep, long descent at the end and the climb up from the falls - super steep but short. Nice views during the upward climb and pretty to walk along the Hazel River - though we ended up with wet feet during some of the crossings. Most gorgeous August day I remember - not hot and blue sky with fluffy clouds.

By: Bob A. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 29, 2012
A most under appreciated hike. Started from Skyline about 10:15, saw less than 8 people the whole trip on a beautiful fall Saturday with leaves turning. Is the "strenuous" rating scaring folks away? It is a bit longer than others and descending, it felt like I was going all the way back down to DC (old knees alert: bring hiking poles). But you don't have a steep staircase to plunge down as with Buck Hollow/Mary's Rock. And while you only get 1 waterfall versus 4 or 5 on White Oak Canyon/Cedar Run, you also don't have the slippery rocks which can become treacherous during or after rainfall. Think it's because the trail is longer that the steepness evens out, making it actually easier to do than other SNP trails. Though "solitude" lovers may hate me, I'd highly recommend this hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 20, 2011
I thought this was a great hike. The first half was fairly easy with many stream/river crossings. Some river crossings were too deep to hop over rocks, so I bushwacked to avoid getting wet. There weren't many views, but the waterfall toward the end of the hike was an awesome spot for lunch. The last 1/3 of the hike was mainly uphill and could be difficult for some. Not too bad if your in good shape. Great workout. I am looking for more challenging and extremly difficult terrain in the Shenandoah/GWNF, so if you have any suggestions please let me know ( I am working my way toward a 7-10 day backpacking trip in Colorado/Utah later this summer, so I need comparable circuits in the area. Thanks and enjoy.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 13, 2011  I've probably hiked this trail 5 times this by far was the most fun.  The water was high after the rains and the river crossings were challenging to say the least (check out our pictures).  There were a couple times we ended up bushwhacking upstream instead of crossing because there was no way to get across and we knew we'd be crossing back again at some point.  There were 13 of us and we needed all that brainpower to figure out how to make those crossings.  I had added an option to head up Mary's Rock for the faster hikers (another 3 miles) but with bushwhacking and stream crossing challenges everyone was exhausted.  Note to self:  Go hiking around rivers after heavy rains.  If you want an adventure, this is it!!

By: William Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 4, 2010
This hike really wore me out. I used it to try out a new pack and had about 50 lbs. of gear, mainly cold-weather clothing. Went clockwise which started off great with the side trip to the Hazel River falls. The views were a little underwhelming with all the bare trees and there appeared to be a good deal of storm damage in the woods. Once I hit the Hazel River crossings, I was thankful that I had packed my gore-tex socks and gaiters. The river was up and came about mid-calf on me (I'm 6'1"). Without the socks and gaiters, I'd have had soggy feet the rest of the way. Going up Sam's Ridge was no joke. The temperature dropped quickly, and combined with the steep ascent and heavy pack, caused my legs to start cramping. About three miles from the finish, I came across a black bear emptying its bowels onto the trail, so I back-tracked and waited about half an hour before continuing on. When I passed the spot where it had been I noticed numerous bear piles, so I recommend going with a group and personally will never take this trail alone ever again. It took approximately 6.5 hours for me to finish this trail. Next time I'll use a lighter pack and go with group.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Thought this was a nice hike. I wasn't blown away, but it was a good afternoon leg stretch =) I did it in the clockwise direction, in 3.5 hours (kept up a pretty fast pace and didn't take many breaks, jogged a bit on the downhill). The side hike to Cave Falls was my favorite part. It was a cool little spot, I'd like to come back and camp in that cave, and maybe go swimming in some of the little pools. The Sam's Ridge trail was really steep! There are some cool house ruins along the way. The Sam's Ridge trail was getting a little overgrown. Doesn't look like it's been hiked a lot recently, and there is a lot of long grass, and ferns, and other plants along the trail. At least my legs weren't brushing any poison ivy though. I kept checking myself for ticks b/c of all the long grass, but I only pulled 2 off me so it wasn't bad. The views would probably be better in winter. There are some nice ones along the White Rocks trail, but they are over pretty quickly. Hazel Run is very scenic, lush, and green (this time of year), but there are no particularly outstanding features aside from the first waterfall.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 28, 2009
At the spot where White Rocks Tr turns left and upward old maps show a trail turning right. I lost it in about 40 yards and bushwacked to the top. It is a good lunch spot with almost perfect cell phone reception :) I would rate this hike 4 for difficulty and 3 for camping as there are great spots in Hazel River valley. 

By: TinyTim Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 18, 2009
Two friends and I hiked this trail in 4.5 hours. We would have been faster if not for the 35lb pack I wore to increase the workout. There are limited vistas, but they are quite nice, and the short little jaunt off the trail down to the waterfalls is well worth the effort.

By: amateur mike Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 10, 2009
I figured I'd give this hike a shot for a solid, mid-day workout -- it did not disappoint!  I took the clockwise route and kept asking myself when the descent would stop.  It did eventually (seemed like forever).  Fording the hazel river several times deep in the valley resulted in me wringing out my socks over and over, but that was a small price to pay for the experience.  I completed the full route in just over four hours, with only a few breaks.  Overall, it was a great workout, but had only average to above-average views as far as scenery is concerned.  In short, I'd do it again, but only to see if I could beat my previous time.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 2, 2009
Forgot my map so went by memory.  Truncated the trail by taking the Hazel River Trail to White Rocks rather than to the Sams Ridge Trail (7miles??).  Didn't pass anyone at all until I got back to the parking area on Skyline.  Slight rain and mist made the scenery that much better although no vista views.  Definitely worth doing again for stamina (White Rocks) and also to experience in different timeframe (e.g. Fall or Winter). 

By: WyEast Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 3, 2009
We hiked this on a sunny, brisk January day. It was a great hike! The trail was very pretty and well-maintained. Because the leaves were down there were some nice vistas. The best part of the hike (better than the waterfall in my opinion) was along the Hazel River, which is a nice size and was very pretty with little icicles hanging off rocks and branches. I think this is definitely a 5 in difficulty - we usually are significantly faster than the suggested times here but it took us 4.5 hours including our lunch and multiple photo ops. We thought about adding on the 3 mile loop up to Mary's Rock overlook to make it a 14 mile day, but we were too worn out. Maybe next time!

By: wornoutlegs Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 3, 2009

Just got back from an over-night on the trail and i will say is was great fun. Me and my girlfriend went clockwise around the trail. The views from whiterocks where great and the falls made for good picture taking. we spent the night down near the river. The night was cold but bearable with the right sleeping bag. At about 8 a.m. on sunday we start again. My girlfriend took a short swim in the Hazel River after slipping off a rock which was interesting. (thank god for have lots of extra dry clothing). And I dont know if i was asleep while reading the topo map but sam's ridge was a monster with all the camping gear on my back. It was however, a great hike and I would do it agian. but maybe in the other direction.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 14, 2008

There are great camping spots along Hazel River, but crossing the river after all the rains was interesting: I almost took a dip in cold water.

By: Brandon Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 22, 2008
I did this route clockwise. On the one hand, taking the official and unoffical spur trails down to the falls were a piece of cake. On the other hand, ascending Sams Ridge was absolutely awful.

Hiking beside the Hazel River is wonderful regardless of which way you go. The water's a little high right now I believe, as a couple crossings were tricky, but that's why I have shoes with Goretex.

There were actually some pretty decent views on the White Rocks trail, more than I was expecting.

Recommended for a challenge, and hiking beside a small river (more like a big run), as opposed to a quaint stream. *****

By: DontStartInTheValley Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 19, 2006
Contrary to what some of the other reviewers wrote, I would advise hikers to NOT start the hike in the valley, which is a pity since it would be a better hike. Unless I missed something, all the logical places to park around Route 600 had "No parking" signs. You might be able to squeeze a car in at other places, but the hiker hostile locals might have your car towed.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 16, 2006
This is a great hike on a hot day when humidity is so high you will not get much in the way of views anyway. However, I suggest the hike start from the valley along the Hazel River. Take the Hazel River trail to White Rocks Trail (if the water is up like it was yesterday, you will get your feet wet). Continue up over the white rocks (some good views into Hazel River valley (you can hear the falls). Note: I've seen Bear in this section 3 of the last 4 years I've hiked it. (saw two of the biggest bears I've seen in the wild here last year...) continue over the 4 humps of White Rock trail to the trail marker for Hazel River Falls and descend steeply. BRING A BATHING SUIT. The water is COLD and VERY REFRESHING! There is a nice ~6ft pool at the base of the falls. DON'T JUMP IN - there is a tree under the water w/ sharp branches...I recommend you bring some Tivas for the water play. Enjoy!

By: Jerry W Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 13, 2006
It was a great hike.  But it was NOT easy.  After hiking Old Rag, Little Devils Stairs, and several other hikes in the area I decided to tackle this '5' difficulty hike.  And it IS a 5 (at least relative to the others).   Follow the recommended path -- otherwise the hike down Sams Ridge trail will be a hellacious uphill climb (worse than the one you're already in for!)  Stopping at the Hazel River for lunch and I knew why I wanted to do this hike.  Only one other person on the trail the entire trip.  Some of the river crossings were a bit confusing when the rocks only went half way but I never had to take the boots off -- I just got creative.  This one is tough on your legs so if you're out of shape, you might want to come in the reverse direction just to see the falls.  That's only about 2.7 miles in.

By: Speedo Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 31, 2005
I started at rt. 600 instead of Skyline Drive, which covers the same route except the out-and-back segment to SD. The route was strenuous at times but also had a good bit of relatively level sections, so there is good opportunity to recover. The previous reviewer is correct about Sam's Ridge in the summer- the views are largely gone due to the thicker foliage. Just as well- this is a steeper segment of the loop and it requires a good bit of concentration. This is an excellent hike, but I gave it four stars instead of five because of the quality of some of the neighboring hikes (e.g Old Rag).

By: MRHyker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 12, 2005
I had read some negative things about the trails on this loop but, except for the 500 foot climb in 0.5 miles to get out of the Hazel River valley, really enjoyed it. There are some nice views to be had in the winter along Sam's Ridge and the White Rocks Trails. These are probably blocked to some degree in the summer. Except for some unavoidable winter blow-downs, the trails were in reasonably good shape. If a hiker can find parking on the east end of the hike where Sam's Ridge and Hazel River Trails come together, on Rt600, you could knock 3.2 miles off of the loop making it all that much nicer.

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