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Hiker Comments for the South River Falls Hike - 1 to 28 of 28   
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By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 14, 2019
Today was a beautiful day to be out and, despite previous reviews, I decided to do the longer 10.5 mile loop of this trail. I had done it last year and I was interested to see if the trail was in as rough shape as described by other hikers. It's not! I do agree that the second half of the loop is overgrown, but nothing I needed to bush wack through. I would wear pants or socks to the knees to protect your legs from the grass and potential of ticks. When you start up on the overgrown fire road, you will come to a chain link barrier. It's two posts low to the ground with a chain connecting the two. Soon after you will pass the signs that tell you that the SNP boundary is ending and you are on private property for the wilderness preserve. A road or trail comes in from the left, but you don't take that one. Keep going! It might feel weird with everything overgrown, but soon after you see a very clear sign for the horse trail. Take an immediate left and you will have clear yellow blazes to follow. I am going to upload a picture if I'm able so you can see what it looks like. Check out the trail photos! The cemetery and ruins are somewhat overgrown but still visible. This hike is not one for large views but there is so much greenery. Definitely recommend doing this hike on a cool fall day as well. All the leaves should be beautiful colors. I'd also recommend this hike for an intermediate or experienced hiker. This loop would not be my first choice for a novice hiker.

By: C Lewis Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 25, 2019
Please read this review before you try to hike the circuit (10 mile route)! I am from Charlottesville and hike a lot of the SNP trails in the south and central sections. I've gone out twice in recent months trying to do this route. The first time when there was snow on the ground we missed the right hand turn that starts you going east for the larger route. Determined to do it again and complete the circuit, I tried it again yesterday. Got to the parking lot at 8:30am and didn't see anyone on the hike (it's Memorial Day Saturday!) except for campers until the couple who I now call my angels.

After the hike along the stream and the overlook, I skipped the descent to the bottom (did it a month ago) and followed the South River Falls Fire Road again. I found the missed right hand turn but as the review by Em said below, the fire road was way overgrown (this is the fire road going east, not west that is part of the shorter 4 mile circuit). But I persevered thinking, we've had a very wet spring and these weeds show it. I even found the left turn (per your directions) to the Pocosin Horse Trail. Again, very overgrown. I didn't keep track of the distance but I would say that after at least a mile the Horse Trail narrowed down to a foot trail and then became faint to say the least. So I backtracked and thought to see if I had lost the trail. Thank goodness I ran into a couple whom I had seen in the South River Falls parking lot. They confirmed they were trying to make the same route up to Pocosin Mission. He had an All Trails app with cell service that showed that we were on the Horse Trail. So, we forged ahead. But soon the trail disappeared completely. Middle of thick woods with brush underfoot, fallen trees, and plants as high as our waists. With no choice, we bushwacked through deep brush trying to get out. This part was the worst hiking experience I have ever had and they (who were from British Columbia with this their first camping venture into the SNP!) agreed it was their lifetime worst. If I had been out there alone, I think I would have made an emergency call.

Sean's review from two months ago says he made the circuit, so perhaps it was the overgrown weeds. But this is NOT a trail that is maintained by the Park Service or a local AT trail club, as so many are. In fact, the part where we got lost is not on SNP land but is in the "Rapidan Wildlife Management Area," as the directions note. I just want to warn any potential hikers. I had good insect repellent on, but choose to wear shorts as it was to be in the 90's. We all three were itching badly as we bushwacked. My legs and arms were rubbed thoroughly with Technu (poison ivy/oak treatment) with two showers when I got home. I am surprised we did not encounter a snake because we could not see any of the forest floor as we bushwacked our way out uphill. We kept monitoring our phones that told us we were heading north towards the AT/Skyline Drive and finally did. The last portion was very uphill and pretty exhausting.

After I departed the couple/angels, and was hiking west on the AT back to the parking lot, I ran into a group who had tried the route the evening before. They said they could not even find the Horse Trail turn off to the left from the Fire Road.

Obviously this trail has vexed a lot of people. IF you want to try this, I would suggest doing the route clockwise: from the SRF parking lot, take a LEFT on the AT and hike up to the Pocosin Cabin, then finding the Pocosin Horse/Pocosin Fire Road and hike south, hopefully completing the loop, linking up with the South River Trail and do the Falls last, then hike up to the parking lot after enjoying the water.

I'll keep looking for reviews here, hoping for an explanation.

Don't know how to score a circuit that I couldn't complete. I enjoy the Falls area and this time even the remote parts of this trail.

But I do note the history of this land and the fact that the mission and the natives were evicted from it to build the SNP. I also note the reviewer below who felt this part of the trail was haunted. I feel like I might have to agree that, at least for our hike, there was mischief afoot.

By: Sean Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 29, 2019
I hiked this as described including the walk down to the base of the falls for the full 10.5 miles. I relied mostly on my GPS device and not so much the hike description. Including breaks to catch my breath and for lunch, and for off-trail exploring and hanging out at the falls, I took 6 hours total. I'm not in the best shape and it was my first long hike of the season, but since I took my time it wasn't too much. (I was really feeling that last few hundred feet of climb before the maximum elevation point.) Even without leaves on the trees, there was not much in the way of long-distance views -- with leaves in the summer you are not missing much. Many springs along much of the route -- I'd pack less water next time. The route is generally in good condition and not very rocky.

By: Ileana Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 4, 2018
Your directions were good until the end. I did the 10.5 circuit hike and after a very hard rain a couple of days ago, the falls were gushing water. Spectacular! When I arrived at the fire road at the end, your directions say to stay on the AT and the South River Falls trail is .5 miles away. In fact, the South River Falls trail is a steep 1.5 miles down the fire road to the left and then you have to hike up 1.5 miles to the parking lot. The other alternative is Skyline Drive at .2 miles going right but it doesn't take you to the parking lot. You have to walk a little bit on Skyline Drive to reach the parking lot. Go left when you reach the top of the fire road to the South River parking lot.

By: Em Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 19, 2018
I went out early in the morning fully intending to do the 10 mile loop! Welp, the views of the waterfall were mostly covered by foliage and the fire trail was too overgrown to hike! Had to do the short loop which I found boring. Iíll go back in November to try out the full loop but overall I donít think this is a good choice for summertimeóunless youíre super keen on a shorter hike and a swim.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, January 25, 2018
This hike was great!'s haunted! I legit felt like that section through Rapidan and until you're back onto the AT had a haunted feel to it. Then sure enough I got home and there are a couple unsolved mysteries from out that way! Very scary, maybe you need to add that into your ratings!!

By: Medic-G Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 15, 2018
My wife and I did the "extra short" version of this hike.† We took advantage of the NPS fee free day on MLK day and did a portion of this hike.† We hiked to the base of the falls and back returning on the South River Trail making an approximate 4.4 mile hike.

With the exception of the falls, I would agree with the views being a 2.† Since we did this in winter, the views were better since there were no leaves on the trees.† Also, since the temperatures were below freezing and had been below freezing we had some good ice formations on several of the rock faces and the South River and falls also had ice formations.† We were glad there was ice on the falls because the possibility of ice on the falls is the reason we chose this hike.

I would have to give it a lower solitude score.† I know this was a fee free day however, it was a cold winter day and there were quite a few people on the trail.† We luckily timed our hike and had the base of the falls to ourselves.† I would give it a 2 for solitude on the day we hiked and I could see where the solitude on this trail/hike would be a 1 in the summer/warmer months.

Just a reminder for those with dogs who would like to do this hike, dogs are to be kept on a leash.† We ran into one dog off the leash which could have been a problem since we were hiking with our dog.† So, just a friendly reminder.

By: TAG Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 13, 2018
We only hiked the short version of the hike but it far exceeded our expectations. The waterfall was stunning, especially from the base. Today's weather was frigid and super windy but we escaped much of the wind by hiking down to the falls only. View of the falls were excellent with the bare trees. Our watches logged 1400' of elevation but it wasn't technical at all except right at the base of the falls which was a short rock scramble. The falls were gushing today. I highly recommend this hike!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Hiked clockwise on a beautiful spring day. The only downside was having to go up the South River road at the end of the really made it a challenge for us old men. The part from the picnic area on the AT to Pocosin Road was a nice walk with enough climbs to know you're hiking and beautiful spring flowers were everywhere. The Pocosin Road to the upper mission was gentle down hill and the ruins are interesting and a good spot to stop for lunch. The trail across to the cemetery and South River Road was a bit wet in places due to all the rain but a beautiful area to hike through. The cemetery is interesting and then the hike up the South River Road made sure we were tired but feeling good about a nice hike on a beautiful day.

By: Steve Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, February 20, 2017
The best waterfall on Skyline Drive. I started the hike from the picnic area. Easy to the find the trail by the bathrooms. The trail was smooth and looked well traveled. It must be very popular in warm weather. When I arrived at 9am there were only two other cars in the parking lot. Granted it was February and the day started out at 38 degrees. For the most part the trail is easy. Around the falls overlook there are several cliff drop offs beside the trail, you should keep track of the kids. Past the overlook the trail widens back out and winds easily down to the base of the creek. You then climb back up for a slight bit on some rock stairs to the base of falls. The rock stairs are on a rather tame area. Well worth it. I didn't find any "steep" sections.

By: Michael B Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, December 27, 2016
This was a my wife and I's first hike. We had wonderful time. We opted for the shorter 4.5 mile hike to the base of the falls and back. We had not read much about it, and almost turned around at the fire road. We were SOOO glad not to turn around. The base of the falls was incredible, and well worth the extra mile. We even took the dog and he loved it.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 24, 2016
We took this hike on a very, very hot Sunday afternoon. I can concur with the other reviewers here. It makes no sense at all to do this hike without going all of the way to the base of the falls. There were many picnickers (sp?) at the parking lot but we didn't meet very many other hikers along the trail. One of the reasons we chose this trail as the White Oak and Rose River parking areas were packed.

Waterfall hikes are always a little tough because you're mostly hiking uphill all of the way after the payoff of the falls. Don't let the rock crawling final section deter you. With that being said, completely worth it. Like stepping into a postcard for the park. If we'd gotten there earlier we could have stayed at the base of the falls, in the pools and relaxing for a couple of hours, but we had to make it back up by dark.

I've hike most of the park from Dickey Ridge to Swift Run Gap, this is one of the best reasonably doable hikes for even older children. My youngest (11 years old) had a blast with almost no complaining on the way back up.

By: Doug T. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 10, 2016
My family and I did the short section of this hike on Sunday afternoon. We met several other people during the hike but by no means would I have considered it crowded. It seemed that most of the people only went to the overlook and not all the way to the base of the falls. Going to the base was well worth the trip. All of the rain that has fallen this year made for a good flow over the falls. Coming back up along the fire road was a grind and somewhat boring, but overall the hike was enjoyable and well worth the effort.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 26, 2016
We started Saturday morning at the South River Entrance Station. We went north on the AT, saw South River Falls, camped on the Pocosin Horse Trail, then came back down the AT Sunday morning back to the entrance station. The falls were the highlight of the trip. The fire road detour to the base of the falls is well worth it. Don't stop when you get to the post--keep walking along the rocks to get to the base. There's a small pool there, not quite deep enough to call it a swimming hole, but a great cool-down on a Summer day I'm sure.

If you're overnighting, unless the park is unusually dry there are opportunities for water from very shallow streams along the Pocosin Horse Trail.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 11, 2015
We debated what hike to do since we were driving the 1 1/2 ish hours from Richmond, wanted to bring our dogs (who aren't the best around other dogs without introductions) and didn't want a crowd. This hike (the shorter route) seemed to fit the bill as it over all has a moderately strenuous rating on most sites and who doesn't love waterfalls! It poured most of our drive out of Richmond but stopped and was just super foggy by the time we got to Skyline drive and pleasantly chilly for mid July. Luckily this seemed to deter most other visitors and there was only a handful of cars in the parking lot. We actually only saw a few people the whole time, which was perfect. I really enjoyed this hike, though it was almost so lush with plant life that it was hard to find a spot to stop or see much of the waterfall from the overlook. It was a fun climb down and along the river, our dogs enjoyed wading in the water and rock jumping. We came across a timber rattlesnake, a copperhead, a garter snake and a little blue lizard all within 5 feet of one another at the overlook which I imagine was mostly due to the sun finally coming out and it being a good place to sun and warm up. They were all behind the stone wall, so no worries there but we got some great pictures. The hike back up the fire road is a bit monotonous, but a nice change from the super rocky path along the bottom and it was sort of pleasant to zone out and look around. It was very quiet other than the occasional woodpecker. Definitely enjoyed it and would recommend, I bet it'd be optimal in fall or spring when the foliage is not so prolific and temps are cooler.

By: Rich S. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 9, 2015
Overall this was a great hike but I agree with another of the reviews and wish I could give it a 3.5, to me it was worth rounding up because I loved the solitude. Other than the falls and a spot or two along the trail this is not one that has breathtaking views throughout. It is definitely worth it to take the path from the lookout down to the falls and be sure to continue on past where the main path stops. Continue along after the trail turns to a very rocky path and you reach the actual base of the falls and a couple nice pools. If you are doing the long circuit this is a good spot to rest up and have lunch by the falls because the ascent that follows and takes you up to the cabin is pretty long and tiring. The cabin is a great place to stop for another rest and there is a spring nearby that you can get water from so donít forget your filter. If no one is staying at the cabin you can enjoy the view from the porch while you rest the legs for a bit. The trail leading down to the falls was fairly crowded but once I left the main falls trail and began the long ascent to the cabin I did not see another person until I got there. There were two guys there that had been renting it, so I stopped and chatted with them for a bit and enjoyed a long break. Other than that I only saw one other hiker that had set up camp off of the trail near Bald Knob peak. So for me this was great, I was on my own that weekend so the solitude and deep quiet along the way more than makes up for the lack of spectacular panoramas. I think the difficulty rating of 3 is a little low for this one. The length was 11.6 miles according to my tracker and the long ascent from the falls up to the cabin is a little tiring, you will definitely be ready for a break when you reach it. There are a couple of good areas along the way to the cabin where you can stop and take a rest if you need it. You will pass through some private property along the way and there are two short detours to take as well, one that will lead you to the ruins and another to the graveyard, both are worth it. The last climb up from the cabin to the summit is not too bad and once you reach it the path is pretty much all downhill from there. This path takes you along a horse trail for a while so watch out for the mounds along the trail. I also came across quite a bit of bear scat but no encounters like the day before, only the little reminders piled up here and there that say itís always a good idea to stay alert, especially on a trail with so few people. All in all this is a great day hike that offers up a good mix of some scenery and solitude while getting a good workout.

By: MarshMudMan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 21, 2014
This was a thoroughly enjoyable hike. If we could give half stars, I would have rated it 3.5 stars. It is better than a "nice hike" (3 stars) but isn't a "great hike" (4 stars). I followed the hike exactly as described on Hiking Upward. Left the South River picnic area around 9:30 and mine was one of only three cars in the entire lot (the lot was nearly full when I finished the hike). The hike down to the falls is fairly easy and quick. The view of the falls from the overlook is OK, but you really should go all the way to the base of the falls. When I first got to the base, something about 1/3 of the way up the falls caught my eye. Turned out to be a snake that was between a couple of the streams of water. I figure it must have fallen from the top, or maybe got washed over the edge in the water. After watching the snake for ~20 minutes, I took my eye off it for a bit and then lost sight of it. I later found the snake, still alive, at the edge of the pool at the base of the falls. Poor snake - it can't feel good to fall down an 83 ft high waterfall!

There was a lot of quiet on the trails today. It was really nice to stop and hear only birds and insects and the wind in the trees. And, there were lots of acorns falling from the trees. But, no sounds of people for the majority of the trip. I didn't see anybody from the time I left the parking lot until I was almost at the PATC cabin. After that, I ran into a dozen or so people, most of whom were on the AT. As noted in the trail description, there aren't really any great views, even from the AT. All told, this was a very enjoyable hike, and one that I will likely do again someday.

By: Lindsay Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 12, 2014
We did the 4.8 mile loop, cutting it short. Hiked this when the falls were overflowing. They were beautiful! So many people thought the overlook was the end, definitely go down to the base and encourage others to go in as well. The pool at the bottom is too shallow to swim, but my dog was able to and it was fun seeing her enjoy it. The hike down is great, lots of beautiful Virginia forest to look at. Beware the hike back up. Goodness was the fire road boring. It really is just an endless steep climb and after a while, my knees and lower back started aching from the hard gravel ground. By the time you finally get back on the trail, it's a sweet relief.

It took us about 4 hours overall: 1.5 hours down, a little bit to sit and relax and then about 2.25 hours up. If you have someone who is not as used to steeper climbs or hiking, they will have a tough time on the fire road. I would probably do it again as the falls are pretty in the summer, but there are definitely better hikes out there if you're going for the walk.

By: brianne Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 22, 2014
I went with my husband Sunday 6/22. the weather was a chance of rain but it was sunny all day for us. We did the South River Falls trail to the lookout about 1.5 miles then the additional bit down the South river fire trial to the bottom of the waterfall. I don't think most people make it all the way down there, but it was worth it to be in the shallow pools under the tall waterfall, especially since it wasn't crowded at all. would definitely go back!

By: John R. Anderson Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 19, 2014
We did this hike yesterday and really liked it! Did the longer hike, but opposite direction, went up the AT first, had lunch at the PATC cabin,then went down to the falls. This made for a easy hike until the last stretch from the falls back to the parking lot, but I guess any hike you do off skyline drive will end that way.

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 13, 2014
I hiked the long loop and I would give that 3 stars because too much of it was fire road. The falls were great with a lot of water because of the recent rains and that bumped this to a 4 for me. The hike down and back out was fairly easy. After I turned off the shorter loop route for the 10.4 mile loop things got a little interesting. There is an unmarked trail to the left about a mile later that looked on the map like it could be the horse trail. It's not. The horse trail is clearly marked as I found out after I went exploring the wrong path. I stopped by the cemetery and mission ruins and decided to continue up to the PATC cabin for lunch. The view was okay, and the picnic table in the front of the cabin was a great place to catch a bite. But the hike itself up to this point had been a letdown in terms of interesting terrain. The last 3+ miles of the loop are on the AT, mostly gently downhill (with a few uphills). I thought the switchbacks early in the AT portion were awesome...a lot of vertical gain in a really short distance.

The falls themselves are the highlight of this circuit and they come early, so If fire roads are not your thing and you don't find old ruins or cemeteries worth a hike then stick to the shorter loop.

By: Heather Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 10, 2013
Hiked the shorter loop, it was fairly easy with great views of the waterfall, both from the base of the falls and the walled- in lookout point. This is a good hike for this time of year, splashes of fall color but also great views because the trees were 90% bare.

By: Peter Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 9, 2013
I hiked this hike Saturday, and was pleasantly suprised to find out that the Shenandoah National Park is free for veterans day. That said, unless you REALLY want a workout, do not do this hike as an out and back. Many people that were there did, doing what the did know rather than what they didnt. I dont know if it was because the SNP was free that day, but there were a lot of people on the trail- I passed at least 30, and at the falls there were college kids scaling the gorge on the far side. Anyway this is an okay hike, but you should do it in the morning. Once you hit the afternoon the falls are encompassed in shadow.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 2, 2013
We did the 4.8 mile loop and loved it. We got there around noon and it wasn't too crowded. Definitely go down to the base of the falls. Perfect little spot to have lunch. Wasn't too crowded. Looking forward to doing the 10 miler in the Spring!

By: kellygirl5538 Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Decided to hike this on Halloween, starting† around 5:30pm.† I like this hike because it is easy to get to and easy for the a regular hiker. I guess this would be a good training trail for someone who is starting off. I have completed this hike in all seasons.† I would pick another hike in the summer, the falls are difficult to see† with leaves on the trees.† My hiking partner and I had the trails to ourselves today.† I was hoping to see bear but I instead stepped on a Copperhead snake.† Glad it didn't bite me!

By: hburg1222 Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Wonderful weather for a hike.† The trip time of 4.5 hours for a 10 mile is a little on the quick side.† I finished it in 3 hours 45 mins and I was running portions of it.† The views of the waterfall are better form the lower level than they are from the overlook.† It is worthwhile to venture to the bottom of the falls.† This trails are nice and wide except for the AT.† I turned left at Pocosin cabin on to the AT.† It wasn't too much farther onto the trail and it was covered with snow.† The trail for quite a distance was very wet and sloppy.†

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 19, 2012
Took the short route with a 3 year old. Started in the parking lot and headed downhill to the overlook. Trail was in great condition. Forest Service had the switchbacks and steps maintained well. View from the overlook was worth the hike. There is a pool on the rock face about halfway down the waterfall that made me wish I had rappelling gear with me. Would love to soak in that on a hot summer day.

Started the hike late in the afternoon. Fog had already set in and the my young companion's energy level steered us towards the quickest exit. We hit the fire road and humped it back to the parking lot. Made it out just as it got dark. The owls hooting kept our spirits up.

Great hike. Going to start a little earlier next time so we have time to get to the base of the waterfall.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 16, 2012
Thank you for mapping this out as I think you hiked this the same day as I did. Anyways, this waterfall hike is one of my favorites but I usually take the short loop hike. The pictures don't show the full magnitude of this waterfall, so please see it before summer starts or after a heavy rain fall in the area. This hike is easy going down but coming back up the short loop can be difficult for those are not ready. During May you will see lots of water snakes in the area, so watch your step!

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