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Hiker Comments for the Overall Run/Heiskell Hollow Hike - 1 to 23 of 23   
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By: Ash Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 27, 2019
The day before Thanksgiving and not a sole but me on this trail. I wasn’t in the mood for miles of rocks today and that really put me in the wrong headspace. The first five miles were fine, and I liked getting most of the vert at once, but once I started coming down the rocks were relentless. Some days the rocks are just something you deal with, other days you wish every rock in the state would disappear - today was the later for me. I don’t knock the trail for it though. It’s a pleasant trail with great views. Not lots of water to worry about today, although it was raining when I drove to the trailhead.

I did the Overall Run/Beecher Ridge two years ago and there is a lot of overlap between the two. I wouldn’t feel like someone is missing out if they did that one and never did this one. You do miss the watering hole, but if that’s not your thing then the only other plus is additional mileage.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 15, 2019
I did this hike on a warm summer Saturday with a few friends from Central Virginia Trailblazers ( As we started out through the gate at the beginning, we were greeted by some very vocal cows who helped us find our way to the trail.

I was wondering if the landowner is trying to discourage hikers, as the trail was quite overgrown and there was no "Heiskell Hollow" sign as mentioned in the description. But there is a somewhat faded yellow blaze near the gate. Once we reached the main loop, the trail was wider and more typical of other SNP trails. We proceeded on and had no trouble following the directions, but the mileage seemed to be off by about a half mile starting around the 8.6-mile intersection, which we reached at around 8.1 per the MapMyHike app, with the total being around 11.5. We didn't encounter many hikers until we got close to Overall Run. If you hike this trail in the summer, my advice is wear long pants and use insect repellent!

By: Shafqatullah Syed Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 26, 2018

Finding this place on my GPS was not difficult. I almost missed the final turn. There is a no outlet sign at the turn. It’s a dirt road and the parking area is a tight round opening that only about 4-6 cars can manage. To my surprise there was another car when I got there but it had frost on it and it did not just get there. I put on some DEET tick repellent as I read other hikers complained but I did not have any issues the whole way.

Started hike at 5:30am. Climbed over landowner’s gate and continued on to trail system. Approached SNP boundary line/gate. Kept going and not too far ahead I went around a tent and two campers sleeping in it. I printed out the topographical map and mile directions. Since, this was my first hike here I just kept to them and never got lost. I also had a head light which was essential for the first few hours of darkness until the sunlight was enough to see my surroundings. I never encountered any bears as others have documented and I would know what to do if I did get close to one. The only two items I saw where a large dropping which I never have seen so I assumed it was bear and about a quarter mile further there was a huge claw/paw print in the mud. Both of these were fresh so I kept walking. The hike was excellent. It does start off gradually and it is almost a walk in the park but then it quickly ascended to its peak but not at one shot. There was a break about half way in. I then entered the portion of this hike that was meant for the SNP visitors and I saw my first trail runner on the part when it opens up and sharply descents. I prefer going up as it is easier on my injured ankle. For the most part the trail was descending either sharply or gradually the whole distance that was originally gained.

Toward the half way point while descending you are able to stop and sit on rock cliffs for some grub- taking in the beautiful cliff-side waterfall and on the opposite side the valley and rolling mountain view of multiple ranges and colors. I was not aware of this but it was breathtaking and so beautiful. I continued down while the few people I saw just turn around and go back up to the SNP parking area. At the bottom elevations the creek is always on the left side and there are a few areas of smaller rapids and waterfalls that form a pool for taking a dip. I trekked on until I finally got to the connector to the backcountry trail I originally started on. It starts with a yellow blaze and then the parts it overlaps the other trail is blue. I was alone almost all the time and only encountering other hikers in the stretch to and from the falls and the swimming holes.

When I got back to the parking area I could see what was around me as it was all hidden in the darkness of the morning. There were a few old shacks and then a trailer with clothes drying on a few clothes lines. As I drove I could see that there were more broken and old structures until I got out to a real road.

I loved this 13-mile hike. It has a lot of technical diversity from the multiple stream crossings, rock gardens, ups/downs, and flats.

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 9, 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 2, 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.


By: TessaK Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 25, 2015
This really is a 'bit of everything' hike but be warned: if the water level is moderately high, there will be a lot more than 'about three' stream crossings. We crossed the stream 15 or 16 times, ten of which required wading through. The other 5 crossings were rock hops. In lower water, most (all?) are probably rock hops, but then the falls are maybe not as impressive. Given that we passed at least two swimming holes though, I still think it would be a fun summer hike.

By: Derak Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 13, 2014
Overall, this was a very enjoyable hike. The directions above are helpful. Just a couple of things I'd mention:

(1) If you are doing this to see Overall Run Falls, I'd recommend going in cooler weather. Many streams, especially in the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains, dry up during the summer months. We went in December and the falls had plenty of water and were partially frozen. Despite above freezing temperatures during the day, the falls stayed icy thanks to the low near-winter-solstice sun.

(2) We did this hike on a Saturday in mid-December. Although another review disagreed with the solitude rating, I'd agree with the three rating given. We only ran into a couple of other groups and almost all of them were around the falls. I've found that solitude often depends on two main things: timing and luck. Obviously, your chance of seeing others increases on weekends and during certain times of year. The directions above create a loop using multiple trails, some of which come close to Skyline Drive and swimming holes (which usually means you’re more likely to run into other hikers). Despite encountering a few other people, we couldn't see or hear other hikers for over 95% of our trip.

(3) If you follow the directions above, you will do the loop counter clockwise. This will bring you to the highest altitude on the loop and then down to the top of the falls. Reversing the directions and doing the loop clockwise will take you to the foot of the falls and then up to the highest altitude along the loop.

By: Matt Dillard Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 14, 2014
Took some Scouts on a day hike here. You really need to pay attention to the instructions regarding the trail head and go to the left as soon as you pass the trailhead gate. It was beautiful weather and a great day. There were more ticks than I have ever seen. It was easy to spot them on leaves along the ground waiting for a meal to pass by. The incline was tough but manageable, and the falls were beautiful. I actually prefer this hike in the winter though because the views are better through some trees.

By: Brandon F Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 3, 2014
Did this as a mixed trail run / hike (yeah right I'm running up a 10%+ incline), but in a clockwise direction. After all the rain the prior week I wanted a nice mountain stream run. And the 5 stars were definitely worth it in the spring, as you cross streams at least 13 times plus other smaller ones. The weird part was the solitude on this, a nice Saturday. I saw only 1 Chinese tour group along Overall, and a random group of 3 looking for something off the trail around Matthews Arm, no one admiring Overall Run anywhere (this was maybe 9:30-10:30am)

Did it in 2:50, stopped to take a dozen phone pics, really wanted <2:45 but the downhill/rockiness of Heiskell was too much for my legs at that point.

I really hate reviewers that give a hike low ratings because of ticks. You're out in a forest, what do you expect? That being said, I picked 8 ticks off me on the drive home.

By: melissa Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 5, 2013
I've done this hike three times, twice in winter and once in spring. This is NOT a good summer hike, unless you are only going for the short version to the swimming pools. As noted, the ticks and bugs can be bad. All the streams are dry, and the falls are just a trickle. The ice waterfalls in the dead of winter are spectacular!!! Try to go after the temps have been below freezing for at least two weeks. I prefer this hike in reverse from what is listed. Bring some ice gear in the winter though, or you will not make it very far.

By: Young Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Did not enjoy this hike at all.

The "Solitude" rating of 3 is only correct until you get up to the MM 5 at Matthews Arm trail.  Before that point, we only saw two other hikers.  After that point, we saw more people on this trail than we did last weekend on Old Rag, which gets a 0 rating for Solitude.

5 rating for "Streams/Falls" was garbage for us.  Passed a lot of stream beds, but only two of the stream crossings had even a trace of water in them.  Falls were dry.

Trail maintenance was terrible on almost the entire length of Heiskell Hollow and Beecher Ridge Connector Trails.  Heiskell Hollow still hasn't been cleared of downed trees since the derecho over a month ago.  Both Heiskell Hollow and Beecher Ridge Connector are overgrown to the point where the "trail" is frequently only about 15" wide, and your boots and shins are swishing through the edge of the overgrown grass, thorns, nettles, etc.  The sides of our calves were shredded by the end of the hike.  While your shins are brushing past that grass, they're picking up ticks.  When we stopped at the swimming area (which was swarmed with a group of around 30 kids and some camp counselor type chaperones) and stripped off boots and socks, we realized that my wife's legs were coated with tiny little ticks that had mostly crawled down under her socks.  I mean covered.  We estimate, with no exaggeration, more than 100.  Can't believe I didn't take a picture to document it.  Not sure if they were deer ticks or just larval stage regular dog ticks, but either way, the doc put her on a preemptive course of antibiotics due to the sheer quantity.  I had around 20, much fewer since she hikes ahead of me and probably was clearing them off the grass ahead of me.  Gnats and biting horse flies were terrible too.

Other than the insects, we were treated to a bear, a timber rattlesnake, and a juvenile copperhead to round out our wildlife interactions.  That, and finally returning to the parking lot, were the highlights of the day...

If you're looking for a challenge around this effort level, Old Rag is 10 times better than this hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 15, 2012
This is a tremedous if strenuous hike.  We did it clockwise, so the very steep climb (over 1000 ft in a mile) was at the beginning. Very good workout.  The falls were dry but the veiw was nice.  Ran into a rattlesnake and a bear along the trail.  Lots of blueberry and huckleberry bushes were around although the season was ending so there were few to eat.  There were also copious amounts of bear dung all along the trail so clearly the bears use it for getting around.  The best part of this hike is the swimming hole near the end.  You have never felt so good as when swimming in a moutain stream after hiking 10 miles in 90+ degree/100% humidity weather. 

By: Dave Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 8, 2012
This hike was great, providing a nice mixture of views, water, and excitement. Cows entertained us at the start, and then we encountered 5 bears before we made it to the swimming hole (saw 5 at least, but we heard unknown possibly bear-like noises at least 2 additional times). The bugs were only bad for a mile or two of the hike. There was a decent amount of poison ivy and stinging nettles off-and-on throughout the hike so keep your eyes open!

Here's a warning about the swimming hole, it's possible to get to the swimming hole via another trail that makes it a 2-mile hike, meaning it's easy for the water to get crowded. A large group of 20+ young adults effectively chased us off with their loudness. We got caught in a somewhat intense thunderstorm. I hope the large group made it out without too much fright.

By: Brian Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 1, 2012
Hiked this on New Year's day. I don't know if this is typical, but there were a lot of stream crossings, especially on the Heiskell Hollow trail (I would say 20 round trip). It has been a rainy winter so maybe that has something to do with it(it had even turned into a steady light rain by the end of this hike). Mostly, the streams were about 10-15 feet across and shallow with enough stones to hop across, but near the end, we forded some because the back-up socks were already wet. I would recommend bringing extra dry clothes (socks etc.). Because of the number of stream crossings and length, I might rate this as a "5" for difficulty. Beautiful views of Overall Run. Round trip, we probably encountered about 30 people, mostly at the Overall Run leg There were several dogs in the Overall Run leg, but a dog probably could manage the Heiskell Hollow leg if it was big enough to make it over all the stream crossings. Also, a lot of people seemed to have trekking poles, which would probably be helpful for the stream crossings. We lunched at the Matthew's Arm campground, which is closed for the season (bathrooms are locked), which turned out to be a good spot because once we got down to the overlooks, they were already mostly occupied by other hikers. Just a note about the initial part at mile 1.5. I did not see any crossed sticks, but at around after the 5th stream crossing, there is a yellow blaze on a tree to the left. It is on a small tree and there were a lot of leaves down, so the trail was easy to miss. For a moment, the trail looks like it follows a rain wash (straight-ish or to the right), but you will see that numerous trees have fallen over the small trough the rain has cut. This is not the trail. If you get here, back track the 100 or so feet back to the stream and look or the blaze on the left. All the downed leaves make the trail a little hard to see here, but if you look ahead, you can see some downed trees that have been cut. This is the trail. The directions confused me a little here because I thought this was an intersection with another trail, but it is just a spot where the yellow-blazed trail is a little difficult to follow.

By: James Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 3, 2011
This was a very challenging hike. I think it should be a level 5 instead of a level 4. The pools were great to swim in. The falls where none existent. Most of the rivers and streams where dried up. You have to be careful if you are doing this hike in the summer. The bugs where horrible until you reach the top of the mountain. I do not believe that this hike is a good hike for the summer time.  It was a lot of work for a little pay off. There are two incredible views when you get to the top. The 2 pools were still filled with water and served as a great relief from the summer heat. I think I would have rated this hike a 4 if I had done this in the spring or winter.

By: Michael J Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 16, 2011
My friend and I completed this hike in two days but could've done this in one if we really wanted to push it.  It was overall a great hike and we would go back again.

Keep in mind - this was the weekend when it rained 3 to 4 inches in one day, so your hike will most likely vary from our rare experience.  The parking situation was a little dicey so instead of parking at the end of Chrisman near the gates, we parked 200 yards away on the wide grassy shoulder.  Once we got on the trail we hardly saw anyone else on it.  The frequency (10 to 12 total) and the depth (above the ankle to knee deep) of the streams were different than we anticipated and read, but this was obviously due to the rain.  Bring extra socks if you intend to ford them. 

The trail is very well marked but you'll still need a map.  At mile marker 1.9 we turned toward Beecher Ridge/Overall Run and did the rest of the hike in the opposite direction of the loop and followed the topo map.  The numerous falls and far-seeing viewpoints were amazing so dont forget to bring your camera.  Doing the loop in the opposite direction was tough for two young and healthy guys - 2000' elevation change in 2 miles.  If you intend to camp, there's a GREAT open field at the top of the mountain off a wide gravel road - at the intersection of Matthew Arms Trail and Weddlewood Trail follow the wide gravel road 100 yards north and you should see it on your left.  Bugs weren't a problem for us because of the rain.  Overall it was a great trip, but we would do this one again without the rain.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 22, 2011
Just finished the hike and it was a great experience. It was only 12 degrees, but the frozen waterfalls made it worth it and no bugs. The directions are spot on correct. I would highly recommend this hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 22, 2011
My wife and I just finished this hike with our 19 month-old daughter in tow. It was a beautiful hike with stunning views. The waterfalls were frozen solid, which was a treat to see. If you are using USGS quad maps, beware that there are several new trails in the area. We got a little turned around above the falls as our USGS map did not show several of the trail junctions (the Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail and Matthews Arm Trail junction in particular).

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 9, 2011  Love, love, love this new version of Overall Run. Its a very welcoming beginning (& yes we [all 16 of us] were very respectful of the private property we used), easy enjoyable. Then we could look to the left to see Beecher Ridge knowing we were going up and over it not once but twice. Wonderful workout, super challenge, and eating @ Soul Mountain Restaurant on Main St in Front Royal afterwards was icing on the cake. Think this is fast becoming my new favorite hike.

By: lov2mtb Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 24, 1911
I backpacked this trail this weekend with a couple friends. We did the loop opposite of the recommended route, same as Michael J. We left the park area at 6PM and were at the camping area .3 miles from the falls overlook at 8:35 PM. We had just enough light to set up camp and turn in for the evening. We finished the loop this morning. Beautiful weather, great views, good workout, good times! This hike offers about as much variety as you can hope for in this area. There's plenty of stream crossings, a great waterfall, nice overlook of the valley, etc. Check it out.

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