North Carolina  Virginia
Maryland  West Virginia
All States Hike Map

Hiker Reviews for the Riprap Hollow Hike - 1 to 89 of 89   
Review the Riprap Hollow hike here!   Average Review Rating:

By: Three-Eyed Raven Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, February 16, 2018
I've hiked the Rip Rap/Wildcat Ridge hike a few times in the past, but today I hiked it solo to see how fast I could do it. I started at the Rip Rap Parking Lot off of Skyline Drive milepost 90 at 1:00pm and did the circuit hike counter-clockwise, heading in the direction of Chimney Rock. After a 0.4 mile hike uphill on the A.T., I took a left turn at the intersection of the Rip Rap Trail. The weather was about 55 degrees and cloudy, and there was a brief rain shower on the Rip Rap Trail before I got to Calvary Rocks.

The views in February in the Calvary Rocks/Chimney Rock area are fantastic no leaves on the trees to get in the way. After quickly snapping a few pictures, I headed onward on the Rip Rap Trail and came across two groups of hikers along the way. After crossing the rushing river a couple times along this path, I finally took a left at the intersection with the Wildcat Ridge Trail. After traversing majority downhill up to this point, I knew ahead of time that taking this counter-clockwise direction would provide a rough climb up Wildcat Ridge. I crossed the river a couple more times on this trail, and then spent a couple of miles hiking uphill nonstop.

The trick with this hike is picking your poison on whether you want the roughest terrain to be an uphill climb or a downhill fall: The lowest elevation of the hike is in the general area at the Wildcat Ridge and Rip Rap intersection. The highest elevation is nearby the Chimney Rock/Calvary Rocks area. If you choose to take the hike counter-clockwise from the Rip Rap area like I did, you will face a long uphill climb up the Wildcat Ridge and a very rocky downhill along Rip Rap. If you choose to take the hike clockwise, you will face a rocky uphill climb up Rip Rap Hollow towards the Vistas at Chimney Rock. The trail in general is very rough terrain all the way around, however going uphill on Wildcat Ridge is a bit smoother than the opposite direction. Don't get me wrong, rough terrain can be tricky regardless of uphill or downhill, so you just have to pick your poison on this decision. I have taken both directions around the circuit and I can't really say for myself that there is an "easier" direction to take.

Eventually, I got to the intersection with Wildcat Ridge and the A.T. and I knew I was on the final 2.7-mile leg of the 10-mile circuit. This final 2.7 miles to the Parking Lot wasn't necessarily a difficult hike, but after the previous 7 miles of rough, up-and-down terrain, it was the most difficult to get through. My legs were cramping up and my ionic fitbit watch was telling me I was approaching my 20,000th step of the hike. I finally got back to my car at the Rip Rap Parking Lot, making sure to notice how long the hike took me this time. 3 hours and 26 minutes, a personal best. I wouldn't be surprised if there are some hardcore hikers out there who could easily break 3 hours, but this is a very strenuous hike that takes most people 5 to 6 hours. I believe the Shenandoah National Park recommends that people take around 7 or 8 hours to finish the hike, so finishing it in under 4 hours is very impressive. It would be interesting to hear how fast some of the more hardcore hikers have done it in.

By: Hobo Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 12, 2017
At 10:30am the parking lot was half full. The trail was easy to follow and included part of the AT. The trail is a short AT up then a long slow blue Riprap trail down that will be more challenging coming back up. A little more elevation than I expected. Once again I was reminded "I'm hiking on Skyline Drive these are mountains." Hikers- I meet the friendliest hikers on or near AT trails, this trail re-enforced that theory. Very friendly hikers and dogs. The views from Chimey rock were awesome. I've hiked most of the trails on Skyline so I'd say the special features on the Riprap trail were the rock formations including a large rock boulder area. A word of caution if you have kids or dogs, this year I've seen a number of rattlesnakes and copperheads in the boulder and rock overlook areas. The snakes won't bite unless cornered or stepped on, so be VERY careful about leaving kids "go play in the rocks." While rattlesnakes may sound like a problem they are friends of hikers, as they keep the lyme disease down by killing rats and mice. Also note it is ILLEGAL TO KILL ANY SNAKE IN VIRGINIA. A very enjoyable hike with a west view. After the hike I stopped at the Riprap overlook which was cool to see where I hiked. HYOH

By: Keith (no trail name yet) Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 11, 2017
18 degrees and sunny when I started (9am), 33 degrees when I finished (3pm). First time on this loop. Despite the cold temps, I had a great time. The leaves on trail were deep enough to obscure some of the rocks, so I had to take care on foot placement. The climb out was not a lot of fun for me. I took plenty of breaks and paced myself. Not many people on the trail that day. It was nice day to get out.

By: VSOP Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 25, 2017
With the weather letting up on the heat and humidity it was a great day for a solo day hike. Got started early but learned that taking US 29 to CVille on a weekday morning to get to the south end of SNP was a mistake with traffic backing up to a mile short of Ruckersville. Turned around and took US 33 to Swift Run Gap an then south to MP 90. Clouds were blowing over High Top on the drive down so it was a cool start and it only got to about 80 during the day. That short bit of blue blaze out of the parking lot is extraneous. Hard to get lost on 10yds of trail. But it did throw off one group of hikers that I ran into later in the day. The brush on the north end of the loop on Rip Rap was getting close to the trail bed but the trail was in good shape and passable. The views from the outcrops on the north end of the loop were worth the trip. And the gorge at the bottom as I approached the swimming hole were unique in terms of other SNP hikes I've taken. Water was low but flowing. The swimming hole was tempting but I opted for lunch at a spot on the old trail above it. There seem to be a lot of "no camping" posts around but there were also a lot of flat spots in other places in the valley to pitch a tent or hammock. The Wildcat trail was in good shape and seemed to have had more traffic. The grade is pretty good on both trails but it's a constant "up". Blazes on the trail were pretty fresh. A pair of SOBOs on the AT leg reported a bear about mid way but I never saw it. Overall, this could become a favorite.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 04, 2017
I hiked this on a Friday in August and only saw a few people. The views from the rocks were outstanding. Because of the shade I never got too hot. Descending into the valley after Chimney rock was one of the loveliest sections with a cool babbling brook and lush canopy of trees. The swimming hole is very nice. I would only suggest this hike to people who are in good shape as it is a very strenuous hike with alot of elevation change. It is a workout! But if you are up to the challenge, it is a FANTASTIC hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 05, 2017
First, Thank You Hiking Upward! You have a fantastic and much appreciated site.

Review: You know how you can go to a restaurant and everyone shares the sampler appetizer? After tasting it, you kind of wish you just ordered this for yourself rather than ordering an entree? That is this trail. It doesn't have the best stream and swimming hole, but it is really nice. It has nice vistas, but there are better. It has a nice hike through mountain laurel, it has pine forest with dirt trail, nice bottom hardwoods with a rocky trail, and so on. Each time I can think of better, but none that gives me a nice taste of everything like this trail. Depending on how you like samplers, this trail could be rated anything from a 2-5. I gave it a 4 because it is a great hike that I'll definitely come back to, but I still have my favorite entrees elsewhere.

I hiked this clockwise (opposite of description) having seen a number of reviews suggesting this and I believe they are right. Just feels like I've earned the vistas if they are near the end and I think it makes the climb a little easier. Other than that, trail was in great shape with only a few rough spots or fallen trees. Impressive fire damage near Chimney Rock. Next, having hiked lots of trails in this guide that are rated a 3 or 4 for difficulty, I think a 4 is probably overstating it here. It is a little longer, but I've hiked 3's that I thought had more strenuous sections.

By: Don Mac Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, February 07, 2017
Did this hike on Tuesday Feb 7. Views were spectacular. We started from the Rip Rap trail off the AT. Trail was in great shape although we came upon numerous trees down but were able to navigate over them. The stream crossing in several places was a challenge...not wanting to get real wet this time of year we had to carefully choose our steps on slick rocks. The toughest part of this loop came on the return up Rip Rap trail to the Wildcat Ridge trail to the AT. The elevation gain was tough and the trail quite rocky. Overall it was a good hike and took us 5 1/2 hours which included a lunch break.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 10, 2016
Did this one on a very cold (mid 20's) but sunny Saturday. Did not see a single other person all day. We parked at the Wildcat lot and hiked in the opposite direction of the write up. There was a stream crossing at the bottom of the Wildcat Ridge trail that required us to get wet. I actually fell in while my buddy crossed it barefoot. It was surprising and sad to find a few huge old eastern hemlocks in the hollow. Just like at Ramsey's Draft they were all dead from woolly adelgid. The views from higher up were fantastic, I suspect this one is best in the winter with no leaves on the trees. Will definitely do this one again in summer to get in the swimming hole.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 03, 2016
As far as swimming holes should we expect to be able to take a break and go for a swim? Just wondering what to pack..

By: Grasshopp Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 04, 2016
This was my wife's and I first time on RIP RAP HOLLOW. The first 4 miles are pretty good if you are going in reverse and go to the streams first. There are about 4 or 5 stream crossings which I always enjoy. However, after that it wasn't very impressive. The trail is narrow and vegetation is growing up on the trail for most of it. I don't mind getting dirty when I hike but we felt like we were walking through the bush the entire time and it was hard to get off the trail when other hikers approached. The views from the peak are ok but I've seen some better views on shorter trails. If the water had been warmer we would have gone swimming in the natural pool but we passed this time.

By: Festina Lente Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 06, 2015
Took advantage of the early December mid-60s temperature. Surprisingly quiet for such a beautiful day. I'd recommend taking the trail backwards (clockwise), putting the views at Chimney Rock at the end. Water levels were pretty high, so be prepared for a few frosty crossing.

By: KellyMB Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 30, 2015
Did the "boring" part of the reverse hike and admittedly, it was a little boring. Did the 2.8 miles and then got to a sign offering Blackrock Summit (1.3 miles ahead) as an option, so we did that because we wanted views, and views it delivered! Spotted a black bear off the trail on our way back down to the Riprap parking lot, at the Chimney Rock junction.

By: usna98 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 19, 2015
I thought this was just an okay hike. Maybe my expectations were a little too high based on all the reviews I read here and the ratings it was given. I'm still trying to find one in the area as fun and rewarding as Old Rag. It is a fairly strenuous hike in parts especially towards the latter half if you do it in reverse like a lot of the reviews suggest. Overall, it took me about 5.5 hrs with stops. The two overlooks were fine, but nothing to write home about. The swimming hole was a little low this time of year especially with the little rain we've gotten this summer. The highlight of the trail was running into a couple of adult bears within a couple mile stretch of the hike, otherwise I would've given this an overall rating of 2 stars. I would have to grade the "Views" a 2 out of 6, but the rest of the ratings are fairly spot on. A nice hike, but I wouldn't do it again nor recommend it to anyone. There are much better hikes in SNP.

By: Upwar and Onward Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 30, 2015
My wife and I did this hike backwards. Makes the views at the end of the hike. We laughed at the sign at the trail head because it told us the hike was going to take us 8 and 1/4 hours. We started at noon and were done by 3:00. No wildlife at all on the trail. I would recommend getting there early on the weekend. We had to fight for a parking spot when we got there. Overall was a great hike. You can't beat a walk in the woods. Is there ever really a bad hike?

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 21, 2015
I hiked the Riprap trail clockwise starting at the Riprap trailhead. I opted to do the “boring” AT part first and work up a sweat before hitting the swimming hole. The AT lived up to expectations with only one slight overlook providing a preview of the mountain that would need to be climbed at the end of the hike. The Wildcat Ridge Trail was an easy descent into the hollow and had a few overlooks. The last mile follows a small stream until the junction with the Riprap trail. From there the last 3ish miles were all uphill, although there was only one steep section.

The swimming hole was okay. What it lacked in size it made up for in coldness. The 20’ waterfall was not much more than a trickle when I was there but the rock formations in that section were still pretty. The vistas in and around Chimney Rock were typical and you could get the same view from just about any of the west facing overlooks on Skyline drive.

Overall it was not a bad hike, but there was nothing about it that would make me hike it again. The AT and Wildcat trails do not add much value to this hike so you could hit all of the highlights by hiking counterclockwise out and back to Chimney Rock (or possibly down to the swimming hole).

Youtube: https://youtu.be/89Dku-ESECQ

By: Shawn R. Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 10, 2015
This was a great hike which included a few spectacular views and extended access to streams and a swimming hole.  As great as the views were, there were only a couple of lookouts.  I would say that the swimming hole and creeks were the highlight of the hike.  The swimming hole was cold, but refreshing.  I highly recommend doing the hike opposite of what the instructions say, in order to leave the best part for last.  The hike took about 5 hours and 15 minutes and is fairly difficult, but nothing unmanageable.  There was plenty of wildlife along the way, including moths, butterflies, frogs, toads, fish, and bears (we only saw scat though).  We did walk past several other hikers, but spread out over the 9 mile hike, it wasn't so bad.  The drive on skyline drive to get there is very nice, but the only real negative about this hike is the cost of $20 to enter.  I would say the hike is well worth the money though and I highly recommend this hike to others.       

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 28, 2015
This is my third visit to this trail, the first one being a short out and back to the chimney rocks, and the second was the entire loop, as stated here and on the kiosk at the parking center. I am speaking from experience, and I wish I had figured this out earlier, but this whole hike is waaaaaay better if you do the loop backwards. That means starting on the AT going south instead of rip rap hollow. The hike is very easy to navigate with markers and blazes everywhere, so doing the loop in reverse is very easy to figure out. The wildcat ridge trail is fairly difficult and steep, but going towards rip rap was much easier. The downside to doing the loop backwards is the scenic views are closer to the end (swimming hole is about mile 6 when done reverse, chimney Rock is around 7.5) but if I am going to do over 9 miles, I don't want to be bored on the last 6 miles, I want to have motivation to get to the final 3 miles and see the water hole and cliffs! It was a beautiful day, we didn't get to the parking area until 12:30 and the temperature was so mild, only 75-80 all day! We didn't stop too much, just a pause for snacks, and taking some pictures. We got back to the car right after 6pm, so it took about 5 1/2 hours. When I did the loop with riprap first. I think the time was a bit shorter, because there isn't much to see on the wildcat ridge and AT and so we were motivated to get back to the car and on to blue mountain brewery. Lots of thru hikers, and overall not crowded but we saw people all day and the parking lot was full when we got there. *A note about parking* you could park at moormans River parking (mile post 92) and catch wildcat ridge to rip rap and take the AT south back to moormans River if you can't park at riprap. Good hike, nice views, cute little swimming hole, the water is freeeeeeezing cold.

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 23, 2015
This was a very nice hike--Lots of Azaleas and Rhododendron along the trails which were in bloom in a few places and just on the verge of blooming in others. Beautiful to walk along the stream and see the waterfalls. There were quite nice views of the Western Slope and down into the Shenandoah Valley along the hike. This was a fairly strenuous hike with a lot of ups and downs but most of the pitches are gradual and manageable.

About the only negative was that it was quite crowded--but it was Memorial Day weekend so it would be difficult to find a place that was not crowded on this particular weekend.

Ken and Brenda

By: Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 11, 2015
This is a good but not great hike. It's a lot of work for not a lot in exchange like some other reviews suggested. Limited views and stopping points and destinations. Best to go backwards since the original plan has all the good stuff right at the beginning. Its very common to go up to cavalry rocks hang out and turn back there.

It's a tough 9 mile hike no matter which way you go. The watering hole is cool, and FREEZING cold. I noticed some awesome camping spots along the water down there so I am not sure why this hike has a "1" for camping, thats clearly not right since there were multiple spots in plain sight. I can't imagine what other spots I may have missed.

If you're looking for a full day of hiking, this is a good way to go. But having done this trail a few times now I think I've lost the thrill.

Today I startled a rattle snake RIGHT on the trail. So thats something to be aware of when walking here. There is nothing like not noticing and startling a rattle snake who was sunning right on the trail.. he jumped up at me and started rattling so loud I could hear him 30 feet back where I had retreated when I noticed him. He was not happy. And then having him not move or change positions off the trail for the next 15 minutes while I plotted a course through VERY thick brush to avoid him. My options were 1.5 miles back to my parking lot, guarded by this terrifying creature.. or 7.5 miles back to do the loop again, at 5 30 pm. Fortunately I got by.. Terrifying at the moment, fun to look back on.

A couple thru hikers on the AT portion of the trail in the morning. Well one was "living the dream" when I asked how he was doing, so I assume he was a thru hiker. The other I talked to confirmed he was. Kinda interesting to meet and see them out there grinding.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 08, 2015
Woke up late and did not make it to the trail until about 11:00. I hiked this trail about a month ago and only ran into one other person on the Wildcat ridge and riprap sections. However, when I arrived at the trail this time, the parking lot had about eight cars already present. I ran into a thru hiker on the AT section named Seeker. He mentioned something about an old man with a pacifier and a teddy bear that stayed at the campsite he was at the night before. He said he was probably harmless, but strange. Did not end up running into him.

By the way, I did this hike going south down the AT first, saving the view for the end. Definitely the way to go.

Made it to the Wildcat Ridge intersection having seen a lot of pink azaleas and it made me happy and supplied me with energy. I stopped there to eat a banana and realized, after seeing many bees buzzing about me, that I was sitting next to a bee hive. I decided to move, because they are bees.

I sang to myself for most of this hike. I had accidentally snuck up on a bear two weeks ago while hiking the Turk Branch Trail and was not looking to startle another bear any time soon. Most people I encountered did not seem to mind.

At one of the creek crossings, I encountered some foreigners. There were four of them trying to navigate their way across, throwing rocks to make a bridge so they would not get their feet wet. I am not, by any means, an experienced woodsman. But, I have played in many creeks and was able to deftly jump from stone to stone fluidly as the foreigners watched in what I like to think of as amazement and was just as quickly on my way to the next obstacle while they were left wondering why they decided to make things so difficult.

I saw some beautifual wild Iris flowers and I think an Orchid? It was right next to the path and not on a tree, but very peculiar looking.

Decided to eat lunch at the swimming hole. There are some big ol' fish in there for it being a creek. I didn't jump all the way in, but I think I will have to go for it next time. The water is cold! I think I weirded some people out that walked by as I was eating lunch in my boxers. Sorry!

The climb to the top was very arduous, but well worth it. Got some pretty pictures and a sense of accomplishment. Took about 4 hours to do the whole thing. Saw a lot more people than any other hike I have done lately, but when everyone is smiling, it doesn't upset my solitude. Will definitely be doing it again!

By: Appalachian Love Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 15, 2015
This hike was seriously so great!! Lots of outlooks, hiking a few ridge lines, streams, rivers, a waterfall, a swimming hole, tons of changing scenery. The trails went from dirt, to sand, to pine needles, to rock. I had so much to say about this awesome hike and to read more about my hike and to see lots of pictures (including some pictures of the waterfall) visit my site at http://www.appalachianlove.com/2015/03/hiking-riprap-hollow.html

By: Long Beard Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, January 01, 2015
My wife and I planned to start at the Wildcat Ridge parking area and do a circuit hike of Rip Rap trail and return to parking lot by the Appalachian Trail. We left the parking lot and the wind chill coming up from the valley told us we may not have a pleasant hike, especially since the wind made our eyes water so bad we could not see clearly. We decided to just re-plan and go to Rip Rap parking and hike to Calvary rock and Chimney Rock which we did and had a wonderful time. The vista was great and the wind was much calmer there. Great Hike!

By: Ben Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 20, 2014
Hiked Riprap Hollow and Wildcat Ridge on Monday 10/20/14, then again on Saturday 10/25/14. Headed counter-clockwise from the south Wildcat Ridge parking lot. First 2.5+ miles is extremely boring flat portion of the AT heading along Skyline Drive. If you have 2 cars with your group I'd suggest parking cars at both the south Wildcat Ridge lot and the north Riprap parking lot in order to skip this section. That will cut this long tough hike from 9.2 miles down to about 7.5. The climb up from Riprap to the lichen rock overlook areas is pretty tough, but relatively short. Views from the top are spectacular, especially along the trail ridge following the rock overlooks. Next couple miles is a very tough steep downhill trek, made even more difficult in this time of year with all the leaves covering the loose rocks. Very easy to twist an ankle if you are not wearing proper shoes. The bottom of the hollow is beautiful, with a decent size stream running along the trail for more than a mile. The last 2+ miles up through Wildcat Ridge are entirely uphill, and are extremely difficult especially because it is the end of this 9+ mile hike. Saw only about 10 people on my first visit on a weekday, but nearly 100 people on the Saturday in perfect fall weather. Most people park at the north Riprap lot to take the short hike up to the rock overlooks, then head back down. Overall a great challenging hike that I will be doing again in the future.

By: Justin Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 06, 2014
Hiked this trail with my wife on a kinda sunny and rainy Saturday. We started the trail at 2:15 and finished around 6:15. Their was alot of thunder and rain in the area so we did not stop much. The trail is rocky, has great vistas, and can be deceptively tough at times. We had one black bear cub cross in front of us on the trail towards the beginning of the trail and another instance of a black bear cub crossing in front us towards the end of the trail. Both times without the mother being spotted. Saw a couple of snakes by the creek as well. Swimming hole looked pretty sweet. Well worth visiting if in the area.

By: Kailey Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 06, 2014
$15 to drive into the Shenandoah National Park. The Riprap parking area is about 15 miles from the south entrance of the park.
Nearby attraction outside the park include many vineyards, breweries, and a cidery. Check out Nelson151.com for details.

The sign at the Riprap parking area describes the hike as "strenuous" and estimates 8.5 hours to complete it. My boyfriend and I were a little intimidated because we're not in the best shape, but we finished in 6.5 hours. That time includes 5 hours of hiking, 30 minutes of breaks for pictures and taking in the scenery, and 1 hour of swimming and lunch. I would not recommend this hike for children as there are stream crossing over slippery rocks, and the hike may be too long for little legs. The weather was perfect! 68 degrees, slightly overcast, not too humid. It was not what we expected for early August.

My advice for this hike: start SOUTH on the Appalachian Trail instead of North as the sign and this site recommend. This will make the end of your hike worthwhile. The loop is much more scenic on the North end, and the South end has you uphill 99% of the way if you start with the North. START SOUTH!

My boyfriend and I packed 1 day pack: a camel back day star containing 70 oz. water, first aid kit, compass, whistle, mirror, map, IDs, sandwiches, apples, trail mix (duh!), smart phones, digital camera, extra battery pack (good for several charges), swim suits, sunscreen, and lipbalm. We're the type that like to over-prepare.

We started going North on the Appalachian Trail as the sign suggested, and it wasn't long before we hit several picture worthy spots. We passed a couple who recommended eating the wild blueberries growing along the trail. We tried a few each, and although they were fine, we had no problem passing the rest without a second glance. A black snake crossed the path in front of my boyfriend, frightening him, but it was harmless.

The swimming hole is absolutely gorgeous!. I've never seen another like it. This swimming hole makes the entire hike worth it. We found a place to change into suits if other people are around: cross the stream toward the rock that looks like a bench (I ate my lunch on that bench rock!) continue up that path slightly to the left and there's an area that over looks the swimming hole (also the perfect place to camp if you're staying long). The water was FREEZING! August water never felt so cold! It was, however, refreshing. I almost didn't want to get it because my boyfriend told me how cold it was, but I jumped in nevertheless. It was totally worth the shiver! If you're planning to hike during the warmer months, JUMP IN!

As we continued on, we still had about 6 miles left. The last part of the Riprap trail was easy and flat. Once we got to Wildcat Ridge Trail, it was ALL UPHILL with no views that compared to the Riprap Trail views. This is why I recommend doing the trail backwards. We were so discouraged, but we got through it. Once the Wildcat Ridge Trail met up with the Appalachian Trail, the elevation evened out. A deer ran out of the bushes and down the trail away from us, so that gave us a pleasant adrenaline rush. I used the app "endomondo" to track our hike, and I think the mileage is slightly off in a few portions. I was closely monitoring the mileage as we were nearing the parking lot. When Wildcat Ridge met up with the Appalachian Trail, the post said we had 2.6 miles until the Riprap parking area, but it was closer to 2.8 miles (0.2 miles can make a girl think she missed a turn!). By the time we finished, we were a little let down by the post-lunch portion. More intense, less views, more mileage. PLEASE START SOUTH! You'll have a more enjoyable hike overall!

I would definitely do this hike again. The Riprap portion made it all worth it. As I'm recommending, I would just start with the other portion and end with Riprap Trail.

I hope I encouraged you to do this AWESOME hike! Best of luck!

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 31, 2014
The last time I hiked this I got stuck in a thunderstorm so I didn't have an appreciation for what this circuit offers. I started at the Wildcat Ridge parking area and hiked clockwise figuring I could get lunch with a view. Until I got to Riprap the hike wasn't much...a lot of foilage and a trail. It gets more interesting along the stream even though there wasn't much flow. The swimming hole had an aqua green color at its deepest point that was so bright I stopped to stare at it a while...and then saw 5 decent size fish swiming around in the same bright water. The initial climb out after the swimming hole is very steep, but not long. After that it's just a walk uphill along the Riprap through some wild blueberry bushes until you start hitting the vistas. I had lunch at the rocks and then finished up the hike. I saw a few people along the way including a couple of late thru hikers on the AT. All in all a very satisfying hike.

By: PetiteParadox Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 15, 2014
This is one of my favorite hikes in Shenandoah. A sweet circuit hike with almost everything you would want in a day hike - streams, a phenomenal swimming hole, great views, a solid but not overwhelming uphill, and just enough downhill to not kill your knees. It's a moderate workout and definitely not for someone who is out of shape or doesn't have appropriate footwear. I saw someone camping in the lower portion and it didn't look like a particularly intriguing camp, plus they warned there were lots of ticks. Would repeat this with good company :)

By: Greengal Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 03, 2014
What a great hike! We arrived at the parking area around 8:30 and several cars were already there. Was worried that we would run into a lot of people but actually only saw a few and most of them were on the section that follows the Appalachian trail back to the parking area. We did the loop counterclockwise as suggested but I think next time it we will hike it in the opposite direction and save the views from the rocks for the end. Some of what made this hike great this day was the fact that the streams were running really high. It made the waterfalls, although small, much more powerful as well as making the creek crossing much more challenging. At several points the trail itself was covered in water and we had to cross one section on a tree suspended several feet above the creek. Nothing like a little challenge to make the hike better. There was a section of the trail where you could see the effects of the recent fire but new plants, in particular tiny irises were beginning to bloom in the area. All in all it was a great hike on a beautiful spring day.

By: VA Ridge Runner Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 21, 2014
Great views along this 9.5 mile hike. Most of these are confined to First 5 miles.

For the most part, the hike is pretty easy, though there are spots along the way that are steep, and challenging, though short lived. Lots of wildlife in the area, as we came across bear scat throughout the hike.

There was a limited amount of snow on the ground, which is fine by me. I've done a few hikes recently through the snow, and frankly it can make things much more difficult.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 21, 2014
What a beautiful day for a beautiful hike. The three of us had originally planned on doing a different hike, but wound up getting a later start than anticipated and ended up here instead. My wife dubbed it a happy accident because we had a grand time hiking this wonderful trail. We hung a right on to the trail at the parking lot around 9:45am and had some wonderful views of of the Shenandoah Valley. It was a clear day and we could see for miles. About 2 mile in we started descending the mountain and before long began walking next to a stream that eventually became a nice set of falls and eventually a fantastic swimming hole. I can't wait to try this one in the summer. During the descent we met the trail superintendent out maintaining some of the water runoffs. He was a super nice guy who obviously loves this trail, and was chock full of info and advice about it. Apparently about 5 weeks ago, someone decided to build a campfire in the middle of the trail and wound up burning about 40 acres. There was evidence of the burn all around the trail near the bottom, and the ignition point was just before the first creek crossing. Be careful people!

There were several creek crossings in the bottom, and with all the snow melting they appeared to be a bit high, but nothing difficult. After the last crossing, we began the climb back up the hill. Maybe with a few more leaves on the trees, this may have been a bit more interesting of an ascent, but it was pretty much just a slog up the hill. Once you're on top of Wildcat Ridge it's a little better, but the views are all interrupted by the trees and there isn't as much to look at. We did see a fair bit of bear scat, so it's always a good idea to keep your eyes open. Once we met back up with the AT it was a quick 3 miles back to the truck, and then the ride home.

We really liked this hike, and definitely plan on doing it again. Next time I would probably do it in the clockwise direction though. That way the down hill part would be along the AT and Wildcat Ridge, while you would climb out along Cavalry Rocks. The ascent would be about the same climb, but I don't mind climbing as much when I've got beautiful views to take my mind off it. As with everything though, YMMV.

Here's some of the pics I took along the way. http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonko-the-sane/sets/72157642763790504/

By: Shawn Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 15, 2013
Skyline Drive was closed due to snow and ice, so we approached this hike from the western end of Riprap, parking just outside the park boundaries.  This approach adds about 2 miles to a round-trip, with two stream crossings that were made more difficult due to high-water from the previous night's storm.  Once we hit the loop, we proceeded clockwise, taking in the swimming hole before climbing up and onto the ridge line, where we enjoyed spectacular views the whole way.  We took our time on this section, before turning on to the AT and then Wildcat and picking up the pace to get back to the car before nightfall.  The 11.6 miles took us 6 hours, though we probably spent a half hour to 45 minutes resting and another 30 minutes negotiating tricky stream crossings.  We were walking in 2-3 inches of snow most of the way, but had no issues with traction- the terrain is not steep enough to warrant crampons.  Saw many tracks- bobcat, coyote, turkey, bear- and jumped a couple deer near the end of the hike.  This is a great winter hike as the lack of foliage makes for nice views almost start to finish and there is enough cover to protect you from any biting wind.  Finding the alternative trailhead is a challenge though- be on the lookout for the cement markers that direct the way.  There is one standing at the turn-off from the paved road to the dirt road and another one marking the final right turn and trail head.   

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 02, 2013
Did the loop counter-clockwise from the upper lot. It took about 3 and 1/2 hours with my 19 year old son setting the pace. We will be back to enjoy the swimming holes next summer. Super hike.

By: Jen Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 27, 2013
Finally had a chance to hike this today.  What a great hike!  I saw a black bear on Riprap Trail and another on the Wildcat Trail.  I did not find the ascent up the Wildcat Trail as taxing as I did the decent down Riprap.  In fact, I think Wildcat would be great to run down and then hike back up.  Anyway, I had the place to myself except for the wildlife.  I didn't encounter any other hikers.  Perfect weather and the leaves were definitely turning.  I took lots of pictures with my phone.  It took me 4 1/4 hours with multiple stops for photos and just taking everything in.  This hike is going to be spectacular in a few weeks when the leaves are at their peak!

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 10, 2013
My daughter and I hiked this today and despite the heavens opening up on us we really enjoyed it. We arrived at the parking area around 9:15 and grabbed the next to last parking spot. Shortly afterward we were on our way and shortly after that we stopped dead in our tracks as we decided that a snake crossing the trail had right-of-way. Just after we turned onto the Riprap trail it started to drizzle and it really came down at Chimney Rocks. It poured all the way to the Wildcat Trail so we didn't linger very long at the rocks, falls, or swimming hole. There were several other hikers, including two Boy Scout groups, but it didn't feel crowded at all. We found the Wildcat Trail leg to be tiring. Consistently uphill with only a couple of flat spots. But the description of this hike prepared us for it and the 2.7 miles on the AT back to the parking area were a breeze after Wildcat. I suspect that this hike is stunning in the fall and with fewer leaves the views should be plentiful. Terrible weather, nice challenging hike.

By: Cindy Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, July 29, 2013
As a follow up to Russ - we came from the Wildcat Ridge direction today and frightened a little bear up a tree about 1/2 hour into the hike. I didn't know where the mama was and I had my 6 year old with me, so we turned back to the car. This portion of the hike was wooded with some pretty views through the tree branches, and nothing too steep. We didn't make it down to any water though which is always a highlight of a hike. We plan on going back again - maybe starting from the Riprap end next time.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 19, 2013
I made this a 5 star choice because I LOVED this hike. It was hot today, 90 degrees at least. We took off at 0815 and the haze was heavy at the overlooks, but still great views. Then down the hill and the waterfall was flowing, man was it neat. When we reached the swimming hole I was ready. I did not hesitate jumping in to cool off. The water temp was 55 degrees and it felt great. After swimming we actually ran into a few people on the trail, 10 all together, but only after we swam. Then we continued on to wildcat ridge trail, a steep climb. Ran into a couple of hikers we first saw at the swimming hole, they were heading back towards us. They informed us that they had to return because the bear on the trail would not let them pass. We continued on and the bear was still there. I snapped a shot of it and since we were under tree cover my flash went off, too bad, it scared the bear and it ran off. so back to the truck we go. took us 5.5 hours to hike the loop even with the 30 min break to swim. Thanks for the dynamite hike.

By: Zach Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 25, 2013
Wonderful hike.  A few other hikers around, but everyone had great trail manners.  We followed the loop in the direction listed above the view were wonderful and there were several different spots to stop and take in the view.  One of our favorite parts was the large stream that the trail criss-crossed with for several miles in the middle.  We had lunch next to a waterfall.  I'm unsure if the water was unusually high at that point.  Overall a really great time, highly recommended.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Great hike on a beautiful day with few other people encountered (I was trying to imagine what White Oak was like today - very different here!). Other than one group of about a dozen boy scouts/dads camping in the area, I saw only 3 solo hikers and 2 pairs. I had the enormous swimming hole all to myself, and it is simply stunning! I chose to hike from Rip Rap parking lot down to the swimming hole and back. This ends up just under 7 miles, and was perfect for me - about 3.5 or 4 hours all told. The elevation changes are pretty gradual - I would call this route moderate. I did find one update to the directions: the way the river was running today, there was a small stream crossing *before* the swimming hole. The larger crossing with the trail marker came after I had passed the swimming hole. Other than that, the directions were spot on.

By: Arzee Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 07, 2013
great hike, definitely recommend doing backwards and maybe even take the advice from other reviewers and start from the wildcat ridge parking area. Had a great time hiking this trail with my wife for our anniversary weekend getaway.

By: Cello62 Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 26, 2012
This hike was Awesome. I did the hike in reverse order like the last post said and it made it that much better. It kinda sucks when you see the great view early than your just stuck hiking forever. Doing it in reverse order made it so you put in the hard work first than you get rewarded with a couple fantastic view points towards the end. The only knock was the swimming hole. It looked great except for the crap floating on top of it. A little to much stuff for me to want to get in, even though the water was clear as can be. I saw a few other spots that looked nice to dip into, but not big enough to swim around. This hike was challenging in the summer heat, but well worth it. It was a great workout and I look forward to doing this hike again.

By: Audra Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 23, 2012
I really enjoyed this hike, but I recommend doing it in reverse of the directions here. We took the AT and walked over to the Wildcat Ridge, down to the Rip Rap trail, and back up. The incline is tough on the way up Rip Rap, but it's shorter and really quite beautiful. Hiking the AT at the end, when I'm exhausted, just doesn't do it for me. Lots of sights: waterfalls, peaks, swimming holes. Blueberries EVERYWHERE! We saw a big, fat snake and a deer, but that's about it. There was a warning on the AT that there have been problem bears in the areas, bears that are getting too habituated to people. We didn't see any, but it was a reminder to NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE. And to be sure to put my gear up at night when I'm sleeping.

By: Cville hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 06, 2012
Great hike. Wonderful foliage. Rhododendrons and wildflowers in bloom. About a hundred orange newts and frogs out. Weather cool and misty on ridges. Did this hike two years ago in early June which was hot and dry and difficult. This was the opposite. Everything lush, moist, and green. Saw a lot of people in parking lot but not on the trail. Lotsa variety for terrain.

By: Anne Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 04, 2012
Hiked Sunday, March 4, 2012. Our path took us over 9.8 miles in 5 hours with in over 3,000 ft of elevation changes by the end of it. For us, this hike represented an "everything" experience for hikers of Shenandoah. The first 4 miles of Riprap Hollow Trail offer beautiful mountainsides filled w rock formations and rock fields, another breathtaking summit panorama which we've come to expect on every hike, 4 stream crossings (so bring water shoes and don't change back into your hiking footwear until you've crossed the fourth, final and most shallow stream), and moderate elevation changes. Pull up a rock at the streams and take in your lunch. During the next few miles this terrific experience soon morphs into steeper, yet managable, vista style trails parts of which must really resemble true tunnels after the foliage fills in. For the last leg of our hike we switched to the A.T. at the trailhead for a couple of last easy, high altitude, gently rolling miles, again, offering additional high ridge line views. This hike was like a big platter of loaded nachos, you get a bit of everything wonderful in a diverse, doable 10 miles.

By: Brian Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 29, 2012
Up, down, up, down, up down with not much to look at. Very long hike with only a few places to step off of the trail and hang out, we were very disappointed, did all 9.6 miles in 5.5 hours with very little enjoyment.

By: Scott Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 29, 2012
I didn't enjoy this hike too much. I had expected much more. The reviews I read on here seem to hype up the hike. Maybe I am missing something, but this hike was far from "hype". The coolest part of the hike was...oh wait, there was no such part... Trek Elsewhere... Scott

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Five of us started at the Rip Rap parking lot about 10AM on a sunny, cold and windy morning, for a day hike. There was a very light dusting of snow on the leaves, maybe the first of the winter. We warmed up quickly on the initial uphill climb and enjoyed the views from the two overlooks. As we moved further into the hollow, the wind became intermittent and most of us ended shedding layers. Several seeps had frozen into mini-icefalls, and some of the small waterfalls had some ice accumulations and icicles. We could only imagine the swimming hole on a hot summer afternoon! Had lunch a short way up the Wildcat Ridge Trail, a long climb out as advertised. Trail was in great shape, one tree down on the AT about 1.5 miles from the end, but it was easily stepped over. Only downside was that we didn't see any wildlife. A great day for a hike! Finished about 3:30.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 25, 2011
The weather was promising and we just couldn't resist hitting the trail before winter arrives and the weather turns truly cold. Took my family on our first overnight backpacking trip, and camped out at the Riprap Shelter (now dismantled) site above the swimming pool on the Riprap Trail.

We left the trailhead right around 10am, and although the leaves were long gone, the hike along Riprap Trail down into Cold Spring and Riprap Hallow was enjoyable. My kids were impressed with the view of Horsehead Mountain and the valley beyond. Meadow Run and its tributaries provided an enjoyable setting and, as always, an environment for the kids to explore. Not much wildlife, but we did see two brook trout and some crayfish.

The Riprap Shelter site is fair for camping&mdashbut there's really only room for one tent on level ground and nowhere to sit except on the ground (where past camp fires have left the ground charred). I spent the night slowly sliding down the inside of my tent. The second morning we found a much more promising camping site down stream, and will use that site when we come back through in the spring.

Although my wife and I found it a chore to push our way up the Wildcat Ridge trail with our gear, our kids did not have any trouble (even with light packs). Their main compliant with the second half of the hike was that there are no streams and not much more than an occasional vista (particularly along the AT) to make it interesting.

By: LCor Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 12, 2011
I hiked Riprap my first year at college at UVA many years ago. I remembered it being fantastic. Then I returned a week ago, and remembered some of the not so great things about it. Ten miles is no joke, so make sure you are ready for 6 good hours of hiking. Two things I forgot to pay attention to: (1) the foliage report (we went a couple weeks too late so most of the fall foliage had already fallen off the trees and they were mostly bare if you really want to see the colors of fall, you might want to go closer to the end of October), (2) daylight savings time (we arrived at the hike at noon with a plan to hike from 12-6pm, but i completely forgot the sun set at 5 so we hiked in pitch black for an hour....oops). The outlook points, including Chimney Rock, within the first few miles of the hike are gorgeous and totally worth it. Actually, the whole first half of the hike is totally worth it with the views, rocks to climb, streams, swimming hole, and little waterfalls. BUT, the last half of the hike, has a steep incline for awhile and practically no cool "nature sites" like the first half. If I were to do this hike again, I would hike the first 4 miles or so, then turn around and hike it back.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 21, 2011
I disagree with giving this hike only a 1 rating for camping. The upper reaches are mostly too steep, rocky, and or brushy to pitch a tent, but there's several excellent sites down at the bottom of the hollow. I used a site overlooking the swimming hole, on the far side from the trail that could easily fit two small tents with room left over. Less than 200 yards downstream from the swimming hole, there's a large clearing (across the creek from the trail) that could fit four or five tents very comfortably and comes equipped with great sitting rocks. Another moderately sized clearing can be found at the lowest stream crossing on the Wildcat Ridge Trail, with several small candidates on the next quarter mile uphill. There's even a rock overhang that's been built up with boulders and logs into a very cozy-looking cave not far off the Wildcat Ridge Trail (I took a wrong turn onto an overgrown trail when it starts switchbacking and stumbled across it).

You will have a bit of an upward hike carrying all your gear, but any trail in Shenandoah that leaves Skyline Drive involves this. I went in mid-October, but doing this as an overnight in the summer, while warmer and tougher on the climb out, would give you an entire evening to enjoy the beautiful swimming hole.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Definitely one of the best hikes in SNP, great vistas, nice rocks, nice stream and swimming hole, and not too difficult.  Only drawback is that the lower portion of the riprap trail is badly in need of a weedwacker, with the brush covering the trail, forcing one to fight through it for extended periods and increasing the chances of ticks. However, the vistas along the ridge on riprap and chimney rock are fabulous. It seems to require a bushwack/rock scramble to get to the top of Calvalry Rock (took me about 10 minutes) but is worth it for the spectacular 360 views at the top.  The sign about problem bears is still up (up since at least April).  The one bear I saw about 75 yards off trail created no problems and did not approach, but did not seem scared of me in the slightest.  Camping spots available along the AT near Wildcat parking.

By: Mitch House Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 28, 2011
This was a great hike! The views are spectacular! The flora on this trip was better than most places my wife and I have seen. There are more campsites available then suggested. I counted 4-5 sites, most could handle more than one tent(2-man). Most sites also have water nearby. This was a challenging hike. Hiking Upward listed it 4 out of 5 and I'd agree. We hiked it clockwise which I feel works, at least for us, in your advantage. The AT section south of Riprap parking area is up and down. The Wildcat Ridge section is all down hill in this direction. Through the lower valley is a fairly level climb. Once you begin to ascend out of the lower valley the trail quickly steepens for the next 3/4-1 mile stretch. After the initial climb the remainder of the way is a more gradual ascent to some wonderful views. Going this direction lets you knock out 2/3 of the trip in the first day. This leaves you with about 3.5 to 4.0 miles to the Riprap parking area which is broken up with the breaks you'll take at Chimney and Calvary Rocks.
The Pros:
Views
Campsites
Great Workout
Waterways
The Cons:
Not much wildlife
Traffic

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 22, 2011
Beautiful hike!  Just got back from hiking with the Central Virginia Trailblazers (http://www.meetup.com/cvatrailblazers/).  We followed the directions here and hiked from the Riprap parking lot counter clockwise.  The wildflowers were blooming and the stream was raging due to the recent rain.  If you're hiking there anytime soon, consider bringing sandals or crocs and a towel, as the stream bed is rocky and the stream cannot easily be rock hopped.  Took us about 5.5 hours to complete the circuit.  The directions were spot on and everybody had a great time.  Thanks HU!

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 14, 2011
We parked at Wildcat Ridge parking lot and proceeded down the Wildcat Ridge Trail.  Having done a circuit here before, we knew we didn't want to do the long climb back on Wildcat. The weather was very foggy, drippy, and cool, and the trail was gorgeous, with azalea, showy orchis orchids, rhododendron and mountain laurel.  We met a few runners, and some other day hikers, but not many, probably due to the weather.
We passed through several changes of weather, including a break in the clouds and some sun, though there was no view from Chimney Rocks or Calvary. We took the AT the 2.8 miles back from the Riprap trailhead to the Wildcat parking lot, and it was deserted the whole way. We stopped a couple of times to eat and watch the trout in the swimming hole and made it back in about 6 hours total.
The way going back up to the top of the ridge to Riprap Parking is far more interesting (and seemed shorter) than the climb up to Wildcat from the hollow. This a hike that has pretty much everything. I recommend it.
Thanks to Hikingupward for a great and very useful site.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 07, 2011
Nice day for a hike.  Got there around 7 AM.  The park was pretty empty.  Tempatures were cool, but it didn't take me long to warm up. Started from the Riprap parking lot and did the circuit counter clockwise. Mountain/valley vistas at first two look-outs were quite nice. Stream part of the trail was very cool.  The water was running high, make some of the crossings a little dicey. I lost my way at a couple of stream crossings, but it didn't take long for me to correct course. Only saw one other person on the non-AT part of the circuit.  Saw about 4 people on the AT part. The hike out of the valley was a longggg uphill.  Not really that steep or that challenging, but very long. My Garmin said 9.62 miles and I did it in exactly 3.5 hours.  I ran some parts of it. This is a great hike, with the first half being better than the second.  I will go back again, and soon. Next time I think I will try it clockwise. Btw, whoever created/runs this web site - thanks!  It is quite useful and well done. HU Note: Stephen, glad you find HU useful. The only thing more enjoyable than us posting new hikes is getting out there and hiking them!!

By: Justin Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 15, 2011
- If you want the scenic rewards to come towards the end go clockwise.

- my GPS watch said the hike was 9.3 miles, not 9.8, but the park has it listed at 9.8 as well so HikingUpward probably has it listed about right.

- There was a sign close to the wildcat / AT intersection that said there are problem bears in the area.  If you are alone, a sign like that makes you wish you had some bear spray or a big friend with you.

- The part on the river is really nice, if I did it again I might start at the Wildcat parking area and just hike over to riprap and then go up to chimney rocks and back all on the riprap trail because it is a bit more scenic than the AT which runs along side the road.

By: Lawton Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 12, 2011
Well Skyline Drive was closed so last minute had to "find" the boundary entrance which did take a while.  There wasn't much parking and being in a 3-series BMW with sport suspension and wheels/tires was tricky on the unimproved road.  The hike was nice - 50F during the day but there wasn't too much traffic.  Views were very nice.  Wish I had trekking poles because of the snow that still covered parts of the trail.  Made the journey clockwise but I don't it was any easier because a lot of the uphill was still snow covered.  I made the trek an overnight to test out some new gear  temps dropped to the low 20's and with the window blowing all night it was very cold.  I found a few legal spots on the AT and selected one with a great view about half way between Rip Rap and Wildcat parking lots.  There seemed to be more places to camp on Wildcat than Rip Rap.  I will definitely do this hike again and maybe this summer even make it a trail run.

By: SDS Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 23, 2010
A great hike, it's one of my favorites now. We did an overnight backpack clockwise, taking the advice from the reviews. I thought it was a bit easier clockwise. Started at the Riprap Hollow parking area, it was pretty full around noon. We started heading south on the AT. Well marked trails. We camped near the swimming hole, water level was pretty low but had clear/plenty water. We discovered about 3 flat camping spots off this trail, great weather over the weekend. Met several day hikers and backpackers on the trails. High traffic between the Riprap Hollow parking and Calvary Rocks vista, mostly day hikers and rock climbers. Views from the Rocks, Chimney Rock were amazing! Beautiful fall Foliage on this trail. I would definitely do this hike again in early summer. One of the best hikes in the Shenandoah!

By: Dan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 28, 2010
Great hike and a great website.  We hiked the loop clockwise starting at the Wildcat Parking lot finishing going south on the AT.  I think this is easier than ending from Wildcat Ridge.  About 5 hours with a break for lunch.  The swimming hole was very low due to the dry weather.  Great views and a fair number of people hiking the trail. 

By: Chris Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 06, 2010
coming from Luray, Va my gps listed going on Brown Gap Road to get to Skyline drive to get to the trail head. There was an unremovable chain blocking Brown Gap Road. I tried to find an alternative path and the gps continued to insist on using Brown Gap Road. Thus, no hike.

By: JStra Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 12, 2010
Great hike! The views were wonderful and the swimming hole looked like alot of fun.  I would definetly do this hike again. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 19, 2010
Wonderful hike. Our weather and season were perfect. Foliage was part way out, so we had greenery, but plenty of visibility. Trail was very well marked, and footing was good (not much rock scrambling). I had my eye out for litter and saw only two items - a tiny scrap on the trail, and an Aquafina bottle off the trail. My son and I were in the area and used this as a training hike in preparation for our trip to Philmont this July (that's the Boy Scout backpacking facility in New Mexico). So we carried pretty heavy packs. We started at the Wildcat Ridge parking lot and hiked the loop counter-clockwise. The first three segments (north on the AT, west on the Riprap, and south on the Riprap) were pretty easy. Ending with the eastbound Wildcat ridge segment which is a long climb, although not terribly steep. I think this loop would be a bit easier done clockwise, or started from the Riprap parking lot. We started at the Wildcat parking lot to enable lunch about midpoint at the lookout spots, but lunch down along the riprap stream (somewhere south of the waterfall) would have been quite pleasant.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 06, 2009
This hike was amazing, I never saw one person throughout the 9 miles.  I did encounter a black bear but once it got 50 yards from my dog and I, it ran away.  It was very  peaceful at the outlooks and along the stream.  The water hole looked really fun but it was way too cold for me to jump into but not for the dog!  This trail would be great in any weather.  It took me 4 hours but I picked up the pace after the 3.4 mile marker.

By: Scott D. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 23, 2009
This will easily become one of my favorite hikes in SNP. We took a Scout Patrol of 3 boys and 3 Leaders. We were unable to find any suitable sites to camp along the AT in close proximity to the Rip Rap parking area. A Quick drive back down to the Wildcat parking area found several nice spots for our small group. I was very upset at the amount of trash and debris that I encountered along the trail. I simply could not pick it all up. I found most of it along the stream after the swimming hole. Soiled toilet paper and cigarette butts littering the paths are less than appealing. We only encountered one group of 2 hikers on the trail. We met the same group on the AT as they were hiking the loop opposite our direction. One group of 3 hikers on the AT wrapped up our trip as we made our final leg into the parking area. I would recommend this hike for any one with moderate ability and especially Scout troops who want something quiet and tranquil.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 30, 2009

I've done dozens of hikes in the SNP and this one is easily my second favorite after Old Rag. The 9.5 mile length feels more like your typical 6 mile hike due to the long stretches of (relatively) level trail. The first stream you come upon is considerably different from most streams in the park in that it is very quick moving, lacking much sediment, and crystal clear. When you reach the falls it's in rock-walled cove like area reminiscent of White Oak Canyon, but it feels less crowded and almost hidden. There are countless whirlpool-esque breaks in the cascades that could be sat in, but when we went the water was so cold that our feet hurt after the stream crossings. The best part was the swimming hole, and even though we didn't go in, it was like something you'd expect to see somewhere tropical--much bigger than the pictures suggest.

The biggest negative about the hike was the overabundance of hikers/campers who weren't following the park rules. One large group of people decided to plop themselves with their tents right along the river--in violation of the National Park rules for backcountry camping which define a buffer of 30 feet between campsites and streams, and a limit of 10 people in a party. Not exactly a consistent visual feature along a tranquil cascade.

 I like dogs, but it is worrisome to constantly have them unleashed and running toward you with no owner in sight--which happened at least twice. This is also against park rules (leashing dogs for an entire hike is kind of unrealistic, but at least keep an eye on them).

I got the feeling a lot of people come in from the boundary without paying the entrance fees and just kind of go off the momentum of breaking that rule and go on to do whatever they want, which doesn't seem to be as common in the other areas of the park.

Overall, with the mountain laurel abundantly blooming, and the weather perfectly mild--this hike easily made my top three in the SNP.


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 16, 2009
My first serious mountain hike and it was great! A cloudy cool morning with fog in the hollows turned into a mid-seventies sunny spring day as I left the parking area at 9:30AM. Doing the circuit as described on the site, I enjoyed the overlooks but would have stayed there longer if I had realized that they were the few valley vistas visible through the foilage. The descent into the hollow was tough for me, downhill bothers my knees more than the climbs, but for a 57 year old in good shape it was doable, even with a 30 lb pack. Once the stream came in on the left, the scenery absorbed my attention and the variety of flora and fauna was beautiful. Either mountain laurel or rhododenron was in full flower and the moss was an almost electric green. The swimming hole and the stream crossings were nice too. I saw very few hikers on the way down into the hollow. Once the climb up to Wildcat Ridge began, I kept my head down and maintained a pretty steady pace, enjoying the sounds and smells of the woods as I hiked alone. The climb was a steady uphill and I did it without pause. Once I reached the ridge I looked up and spotted an adult black bear on the trail ahead, maybe 50 yards away. After a mutual stare down, he ambled into the woods and I proceeded to the turn off to the AT and my return to the parking lot. I was tired but glad that I was in shape and wearing good footwear. I look forward to my next hike, I hope it will be as enjoyable as this was.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 08, 2009
Definitely one of my favorite hikes now. I had been wanting to do this hike for sometime but never got a chance until this past weekend.  We took advantage of the daylight savings and headed out after noon.  We can't imagine doing this hike during the summer with all the leaves.  It was so great seeing all around us and taking in just how low into the valley we were going and all the peaks above us.  Had we done this hike during the summer we'd have missed some really amazing rock walls and other geological features.  We started from the Riprap parking area and followed the directions posted here.  We opted for this starting point so we wouldn't hit the climb at the end, where we would have been fatigued after 7 miles of hiking.  We enjoyed taking it easy on the AT to cool down on the way back to the car.  We can definitely see doing this hike during the summer to take in the nice pools and to take advantage of the nice camping sites we saw that may not have been visible with leaves on the trees.  Highly recommend.  Do bring lots of water though and plenty of snacks as the hike is long and the climb tough.  Definitely worth the effort for the awesome views and beautiful scenery.

By: blueridgetreks Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 06, 2008
A great winter hike!! Temperatures never got past 30F all day. As per a previous reviewer's recommendation, we parked at the Wildcat Ridge Parking area (near MP 92) and went North on the AT instead of starting at the Riprap Parking area. This put us back at the car after the toughest part of the hike (Wildcat Ridge Trail) at the end of the day. It also put Chimney Rock near the half-way point and a great place to stop for lunch. A colleague visiting from the Czech Republic plus another friend did the hike with me. The water was flowing well at the waterfall. The swimming hole was full and would be a great place to cool off in the summer. We had snow flurries for the hike up Wildcat Ridge and ran into 6 backpackers heading to the Blackrock AT Hut to spend the night. They were tougher and much younger than me!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 22, 2008
My wife and I and good friend started this hike at 10am this morning and the temps were in the 20's with a intermittent wind.  We started at the Wildcat Parking area as suggested by the local ranger.  We took the AT route for the first part of the hike and were suprised at how easy it was, though it was very cold until we got a mile or two in and caught the sun.   This hike remains fairly easy throughout with great payoffs at Chimney Rock and the ridge just beyond.   The mountain streams were beautiful with many icy formations in the small waterfalls.  The swimming hole at the low point of the hike looked inviting for a return summer hike.   The ascent back up the mountain with daypacks on and being pre-fatigued at 7 miles or so was pretty tough, but at least the trail conditions were nice.  I would highly recommend this hike, just save a little energy for the last couple of miles.  Beautiful.

By: Osnap Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 08, 2008
We did the trail backwards from the directions suggested and parked at Mormon's Overlook parking - Great Hike - It took us just over 4 hrs, we stopped for a while for lunch but kept a good pace. Going backwards - the trail is very well marked just watch the transition from the App Trail to the Wild Cat trail just below the parking lot (its not hard). Also the be on the look out for the second creek crossing (going backwards) you might miss the turn, just look for the trail on the other side of the creek - if you go too far you go to a cave (not a big deal and its not far). If you're going the way suggested it shouldn't be a problem. All the creek crossings were fairly easy. This trail has a lot of nice overlooks - a water fall and a nice swimming hole (if it was warm).  The App. Trail part was fairly flat compared to the other trails - which was nice because it was a long hike.

By: David & Liz Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 26, 2008
We arrived at Rip Rap around 11:30am Sunday morning and the weather could not have been more perfect. Since this was the first Hike for Liz and I we decided to take the North path to the first Vista point and back. This was a great hike for the both of us and we enjoyed it eminsly. Overall route from parking to the First Vista and back took us no more than 2 1/2 hours. I would recommend this hike to any beginner as well as anyone else who loves a good hike. We had an added bonus on our return hike with a deer crossing our path as well.  Happy Trails..

By: Ron Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A chilling 20 degree and windy start from the RipRap parking lot heading down the trail on a beautiful day.  Great views from the rocky overlooks.  Cold Creek Hollow was a nice walk before the return climb.  We saw two rustic caves as we began the Wildcat Ridge ascent which were well worth investigating.   We were amazed at the size of the stones put in place to shield from the elements.  Campfire smoke trails were evident on the ceilings

The ascent back up Wildcat Ridge was tiring but once we got to the AT it was smooth sailing.  Back at our cars after a little over four hours the temperature had "soared" to 27 degrees.

All in all this is a very nice hike with a good walking surface.  I would recommend it when follage is not blocking the views.

Enjoy!


By: Matthew Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 19, 2008
Views from Chimney Rocks were excellent as was descending on the RipRap Trail through '98 and '99 forest fire damage.  I'd recommend parking at Wildcat and descending Wildcat Ridge first, then ascending RipRap and walking the extremely easy AT section back to the car.

I parked at Wildcat and hiked AT - RipRap - Wildcat in just over 3 hours.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 13, 2008

What a great hike! It was a warm, clear day with the autumn leaves near their peak.  This is a moderately challenging hike, but my wife and I (both in our 40s, pretty fit but not athletes) had no problem finishing it in just under five hours including a brief lunch. The Wildcat Ridge climb is pretty tough, but mainly beacuse it is long (over two miles) and unrelenting it is not all that steep and the trail is very smooth and flat. All the trails in Riprap Hollow were well groomed, the views of the Shenandoah Valley were spectacular, the creek and small waterfalls were charming.  The only minor negative was that there were a fair number of other hikers, so we didn't feel very solitary. We'll be coming back, maybe in the summer when it would be fun to jump into the creek and swimming holes. Thanks to all the other reviewers who convinced me this would be a fun hike, and thanks also to the owners of this great website.


By: Mary and Mabel Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 18, 2008
This is my favorite hike in the SNP. The swimming hole is still cold even though the day was hot. Dunking in it before hiking out of the valley made the hike a little cooler. It was too hot and sunny to sit on Chimney Rock to enjoy the view. I saw something on Wild Cat ridge but I couldn’t tell what it was, not a deer, not a bear. It trotted through the under brush and had mottled markings. Wish I had gotten a closer look.

By: Sally Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 25, 2008

I have hiked the Wildcat trail a couple of times and so I thought I would start this hike there instead of from Rip Rap parking.  I highly recommend this route to anyone who is doing their first longer hike.  I really enjoyed doing the entire loop this time.  It took me a little longer than I had orginially planned (6 hours) but I stopped and took pictures quite a few times. 


By: John Doe Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 25, 2008
I thought this trail was excellent! Although I did pay a $15 parking fee to get into shenandoah national park, it was well worth it! the valley was very soothing and the creek fun to hike beside.  Both viewpoints listed in the description had breathtaking views, but don't forgot to look between the trees, you can get some great snapshots!
Again, like other commenters have previously said, there is a VERY sharp right turn after crossing the creek the last time. I made the mistake and went the wrong way, after I noticed I went back to same creek I came from, I quickly turned around. Other than that, the trail was easy to follow, I loved it!

By: Smartz Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 25, 2008
We hiked from the Riprap parking lot up to Chimney Rock & back down and it was INCREDIBLE!  The trail followed a stream for most of the way and there was a major swimming hole that you pass early in the hike.  The view on top on Chimney Rock was a perfect picnic spot & then we hiked back down.  Definately one of our best day hikes yet!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 10, 2008

This was an awesome hike! Lots of great views and a constantly changing variety of flora and geological features. We espescially liked the long, gradual descent beside Meadow Run from Chimney Rock. A few crossings of the run were challenging since there's been alot of rain this spring. I would recommend packing a pair of lightweight nylon water shoes to change into for the crossings (all 6 of them)! We did this hike in 8 hours, but really took our time to stop and look, eat, talk and just enjoy the beauty of the forest. It could be done in 5-6 hours if you keep a steady pace. We actually didn't reach the top of Wildcat Ridge till almost dark cause we stopped to visit with some friendly deer and have our pictures taken with them! So the last three miles back to Riprap parking we walked on the Drive under a beautiful starlit sky. What a day!

The only problem we encountered was at the last crossing right before the Rock Shelter. After crossing the stream, the trail takes a sharp right and you have to scramble up about 15-20 yards of rock before you see the next blue blaze to get you back on the trail. Other than that the trail was well marked and well maintained. Enjoy!


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 06, 2008
We were a little weary when we drove from Richmond to find out the forcast called for rain all day, but once we started the hike we realized it was worth it!  We are kind of new to the hiking thing, but have really taken to it. We found the hike at Riprap Hollow to be challenging but beautiful.  Our only complaint was that it was so foggy that we could not see the amazing views that we had heard about. Needless to say we will be visiting Riprap again but, next time hopefully it will be clear!

Note: the "wild cat ridge" portion of the hike is kind of intense for us new guys and is all up hill, but once you reach the App. trail its smooth sailing from there. Also, watch out, after you cross the stream for the fourth time, the trail goes to the right (the blue blaze is kind of hidden).

By: John Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 10, 2007

This is a great hike to take.  We went out there from Richmond this past weekend for an overnight, back country hike.  The weather was about 29 degrees but we still had a great time.  If you start out at the Rip Rap parking lot and head North to Chimney Rock you're in for great views!  The trip starts with a pretty good up hill climb to get to the views and then descends pretty quickly.  We didn't go all that far (about 3 miles) and found a great camping spot near the creek.  The hike out the next day is pretty streneous (we didn't do the entire loop, just headed back the way we came).  Totally worth while and a nice hike.

Couple things though.  First DO NOT follow the Mapquest or Google directions to get to skyline drive via Jarmans Gap.  it will send you up a dirt road up the mountain that looks like a scene out of Deliverance.  Second, the ranger said that there were no open fires even though the website says the ban has been lifted. 


By: Chris Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 03, 2007
My family and I walked this trail on the first weekend in November.  Temperature was in the mid 30's at our mid morning start and warmed to the lower 50's.  We wore wicking base layers and light fleece and were quite comfortable with light daypacks.  This is a very nice trail and the foliage was spectacular in places and I would guess it will stay that way for about another week or so.  The views from Chimney rock were excellent with great visibility.  Light hiking boots or shoes will work fine for this hike.  It does cross the stream in several places but you can make your way across without getting your feet wet.  The trail is mostly downhill for the first several miles and then climbs for the 2nd half of the hike.  It took us about 5.5 hours to complete it and we were in no hurry.  We stopped on numerous occasions to take pictures as well as have lunch.  If you are in reasonable shape, you should have a very enjoyable hike on this trail.  Our only disappointment was a complete lack of wildlife.  At the end, we didn't even recall seeing any birds, but it was still a very enjoyable experience, though not terribly physically challenging.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 27, 2007
What a wonderful hike!  My gf and I had never been hiking before and decided to take on this beautiful challenge.  We started on the trail backwards and glad we made that desicion.  There was alot of bear poo on the first part!  I was crossing my fingers just to get a glimpse of a bear but no luck.  I think my gf was happy about that.  The trail was very easy to follow.  We only really saw other hikers when we got to the waterfall but I don't think alot of them go all the way around RipRap Hollow's 9.8 miles.  Not a whole lot to see in the first half of the hike but plenty of views going back up the mountain.  We found going back up the mountain was alittle bit of a challenge for us bc we never thought it was going to end! We did finish this hike in about 5hrs.  We thought that was pretty good considering we never have done this before.  I would recommend this to everyone this time of year! Also if you do this trail backwards you leave the best sights for last, which takes your mind off the challenging upward hike!  thanks hikingupwards for all your help!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 30, 2007

Me and my friend decided to go on this hike on a Sunday. The temperature in SNP was in low 70s. We couldn't ask for a better weather for hiking. We started the hike at 12:20 (was way too much late than what we had planned but I will tell you about that later). We saw about 3-4 different groups which we expected as the weather was just gorgeous, and also we were taking the longest circuit (9.6 miles) which was a mix of several smaller trails. We saw only 1 other group that were taking the entire 9.6 mile trail. There are great streams (can't imagin how good they would be in spring), great views. The difficulty level is 3, and stream and views should be 5. An excellent entire day hike. And best part, when you start driving out back ,  you have so many great look outs on the skyline drive. Just be careful about the driving direction that google suggests you if you are coming from 64E.


By: Eric Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 29, 2007
One of my favorites in the Shenandoah National Park.  I live in Afton, VA and do this hike several times a year.  It's 9.8 miles and offers two nice overlooks.  The Rip Rap Hollow area has a stream (although not so great this year) and offers an interesting vibe as the air is a little cooler in the hollow; probably due to the rocks and stream.  There's also a wild blue berry patch shortly after Chimney Rock overlook if you're heading southbound.  I saw a large black bear in this patch on my last trip.  The bear didn't notice me and after I quietly watched it feed on berries for a bit, I moved on down the trail.  Lucky enough, I saw two more black bears on this trail within one hour of the first bear that day.  The second bear saw me and ran up the hillside to the top ridge and watched me pass at a safe distance.  The third bear didn't see me and I watched if from a pretty far distance for a bit.  Truly an exciting hike with the wildlife that day.  Even without the wildlife, this is a great trail for intermediate hikers.  It's not too difficult, but you do have to climb out of the hollow on either the north or south side when heading back up to Skyline Drive.  This portion may be challenging for people who are in average shape.  Given the 9.8 mile round trip, bring plenty of water and give yourself plenty of time to complete it. 

By: Nate Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, September 20, 2007
Good hike, very long. We took the full circuit. One thing I disliked however was how the hike started at a high elevation, then went to a low elevation, leaving you a long uphill hike before you finish. Climbing a mountain backwards. Chimney rock was really nice with lots of buzzards circling overhead. Going into the hollow was very cool, as the scenery and vegetation gradually changed. There were but a few small hemlocks beggening to grow next to the stream, and I can only imagine how the flora and fauna will change as the park grows older. The water hole marks the lowest part of the hike, and the shelter was nowhere to be found. The water hole was very cold and was somewhat of a letdown, however we have been having a drought and there were small trout in it. Toward the end there was a lot of bear scat on the trail, which must mean that bears use the trail as well. Overall a nice hike however I would definitly explore other ones before considering going back.

By: Kyle Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 15, 2007
My fiancé and I went on the Riprap circuit hike on Saturday September 15, 2007. The weather was absolutely perfect. We took many long breaks to enjoy the scenery, so it took us 7.5 hours to complete the trail. Riprap is definitely on my top ten list for Shenandoah National Park. Chimney rock and Calvary Rocks offered amazing views, although the rest of the trail was not full of great vistas. This trail was certainly a challenge. It is good to know that I can still go on a 9.8 mile hike and live.

I want to thank HikingUpward for providing such a good map and excellent directions; the most helpful I found on the internet.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 14, 2007

I want to thank Hikingupward for the fantastic directions and description for this circuit hike. I did the circuit on September 14, 2007. It was a cloudy and drizzly day.

First, the good. I am the kind of hiker that needs constant reassurance that I'm not lost! The markings on each of these trails was absolutely splendid. You couldn't walk more than a minute or two without seeing the comforting blue blaze (or white on the AT). At each significant decision point, a milepost gave you directions so you knew if you were continuing the Rip Rap or moving on to the rest of the circuit. There was only point where I got confused, after crossing  the stream about 1/2 mile into the wildcat ridge trail the path veers off to the right, however, a path also appeared to veer off to the left. No markings were visible and I took the false path for a minute or two but didn't see the familiar blue blaze so I went back and tried the other path and saw the blaze after two minutes.

Next, the bad. The hike itself did not offer tremendous views after Chimney Rocks. The waterfall and swimming holes, at least when I went, were a little disappointing. The last 2.8 miles, on the AT, were often within sight of Skyline Drive and you could hear cars. The signpost hints that the circuit will take 8 hours. Maybe, but I'm not in great shape and I did it in 4 and I wasn't moving tremendously fast. Also, for what it is worth, I had a cellphone signal for most of the hike.

In summary, the hike is a great circuit if you are looking for a challenge (the three mile uphill was intense) but not so great on scenery on a cloudy day.

A big THANK YOU again for the owners of this web site for the description of the hike. Having some idea of what was ahead was fantastic!

 


By: ricenpeas Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 11, 2007

a really great hike!  the humidity that had been ruining outdoor activity for weeks mercifully lifted for my hike down riprap hollow.  it must have been no more than 75 degrees under the canopy....perfect.  this hike has a little of everything.  some great views from chimney rock and the other vista near it, a gentle, nearly rock free descent into the hollow, a waterfall (that was running low due to the drought), a fine swimming hole (also with just enough water to make it worthwhile), and a buttkicking 3 mile climb that is steady most of the time with several steeper sections.  great stuff. 

directions here are perfect, except that the initial turn off of the AT onto the RipRap Trail is not 0.1 from the parking lot, more like 0.3 or 0.4.  so just keep going, it's well marked, you can't miss it. 

HikingUpward.com: Thanks ricenpeas, the error has been corrected.


By: Tom Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 01, 1962
This was posted 1/22/2012 - My wife is working is Staunton, VA for the next couple of months.  We have two Jack Russel Terriers and she walks them a lot.  I suggested the AT and told her about Riprap Hollow.  Unfortunately she won't be able to make the hike, but she and I reviewed the website and pictures.  In 1962 and 1963 I made trips there with my Boy Scout Troop to conduct litter clean up.  At that time, the swimming hole was about 15 ft deep and we cleaned out all the beer/soda cans and bottles.  Looking at the posted pictures it appears that the hole has filled up with a lot of rocks and storm run-off. There was a rope tied to a huge sycamore tree on the bank that we used to swing out and drop into the pool ... serious cold water.  Further, the rock slope down to the pool was used as a slide ... one of the most memorable experiences of my 64 years!

Records 1 to 89 of 89
about us | terms of use | © 2018