Shenandoah National Park is full of stunning beauty. This includes the spectacular route along Skyline Drive, incredible sunsets over the Blue Ridge Mountains, and of course the countless waterfalls that dot this landscape. Whether you’re visiting Shenandoah on a day trip, spending a few nights camping, or simply passing through, a visit to one of Shenandoah’s many waterfalls is a must.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Shenandoah National Park’s waterfalls including a complete map and list, the best waterfall hikes in Shenandoah, and how to prepare for your visit. Read on to learn everything you need to know to enjoy these beautiful cascades.
In this Post
- Shenandoah National Park Basics
- Waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park
- Best Waterfall hikes in Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park Basics
Before any trip to Shenandoah National Park it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with basic park information. Below, we’ve included some important information that you’ll need for planning your next trip to Shenandoah National Park.
Permits, Entrance Fees, and Opening Times
- Permits are not required for any hikes or to visit any waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park.
- Entrance fees must be paid to access any part of the national park, including all of the hikes and waterfalls described in this post. There are a variety of passes available, depending on the length of your visit and your mode of entry. Details can be found on the NPS website.
- Shenandoah National Park is open 24/7, although fee stations and visitor centers have limited hours. Opening times for the park’s visitor centers can be found here.
- Shenandoah National Park is over 105 miles long, but quite narrow across. Skyline Drive runs the length or the park and is used to access the majority of park attractions. Be sure to checkout the NPS’s excellent guide to getting to Shenandoah.
What to Bring
There are a ton of variables that need to be taken into account when packing for a visit to one of Shenandoah National Park’s many waterfalls. You’ll need to consider the weather conditions (and forecast), length of the hike you plan to undertake, and availability of nearby services.
That being said, there are a few universal items that are essential for all Shenandoah visits:
- Water: 1 quart per person per hour of hiking is recommended. We like carrying water in a hydration bladder for better weight distribution and easy access.
- Sturdy Boots: You’ll encounter a variety of trail conditions in Shenandoah, so it’s important to have supportive footwear that is up to the task and protects your feet and ankles. The terrain can also get extremely muddy, so waterproof footwear is a good idea.
- Layers & Sunscreen: It’s important to dress in layers so you can quickly adapt to the elements. Additionally, the summer sun is strong making it a good idea to pack sunscreen.
- Backpack: Most hikers will need a comfortable backpack for their outing in Shenandoah National Park.
- Shenandoah National Park Map – An essential for any trip, a good map is a must.
- Shenandoah Guidebook – A good guidebook will provide insights and information to help you plan your perfect trip to Shenandoah. We like this hiking guide from Falcon Guides.
- Tick repellent– Ticks are common throughout Shenandoah, and while it is always a good idea to wear long pants, this tick repellent from Ben’s is worth applying when out hiking or camping.
Shenandoah National Park Waterfalls
The map and list below show some of the most popular waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park. We’ve done our best to include all of the easy to visit waterfalls in the park, but be sure to let us know if we missed any!
The list and map are designed to give you a general sense of the waterfalls in Shenandoah, with the following section highlighting some of the best waterfall hikes in Shenandoah.
- Overall Run Falls are the tallest in Shenandoah National Park at 93′ tall. There is an excellent hike to the falls that leaves from the Mathews Arm Campground, located at mile marker 22 along Skyline Drive.
Rose River Falls
- Rose River Falls are located at mile marker 49.4 on Skyline Drive. From here it is an approximate 2 mile hike to the 67′ tall waterfalls. The Rose River Falls are located a short distance from Big Meadows.
- The South River Falls soar to an incredible 83′ high and are the third tallest in Shenandoah National Park. There is an excellent hike to the falls that takes 2-3 hours and is highly recommended. There is also an excellent picnic area just off Skyline Drive near the South River Falls.
- The Jones Runs Falls are some of the most picture perfect in all of Shenandoah. These 42′ high falls are located near both the Doyles River Falls as well as the starting point for the Browns Gap Waterfall Loop. Well worth a visit.
- The Whiteoak Canyon Falls are located on an excellent hiking loop that let’s ambitious walkers visit a series of stunning cascades. This includes both the Whiteoak Canyon Falls as well as the Cedar Run Falls, described below. Whiteoak Canyon is located in the central part of Shenandoah and just a short drive from the Big Meadows Visitor Center.
- Cedar Run Falls are a popular spot to visit on the Whiteoak Canyon loop trail. If you’re not interested in hiking the entire loop, it is easy to visit the Cedar Run Falls from the Whiteoak Canyon lower parking lot.
- The Dark Hollow Falls arew one of the most visited waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park. Located a short .75 mile hike from Skyline Drive, the falls are a beautiful and serene place to visit.
- The Doyles River Falls are accessed via a moderately difficult 3.5 mile trail. The falls are located near the Loft Mountain campground and Big Run overlook.
- The Lewis Falls are one of the most accessible waterfalls in Shenandoah, with an easy path leading to the falls from the Big Meadows amphitheater. You’ll be blown away by the impressive 81′ tall waterfall!
- For those looking for an excellent loop hike to take in several stunning Shenandoah waterfalls, be sure to consider the Browns Gap Waterfall Loop. This 6.5 mile loop takes in multiple cascades in the park and makes for a wonderful day out.
Best Waterfall Hikes in Shenandoah National Park
Given the sheer number of waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park it can be difficult to decide which to visit and which to skip. In reality, there is no bad answer to this question are each cascade in the park has its own unique character and allure.
However, for those short on time we’ve highlight five of the best waterfall hikes in Shenandoah National Park below. These hikes range in difficulty, distance, and hiking time so be sure to select the best option for your particular circumstances.
Distance: 9 miles
Approximate hiking time: 4 – 6 hours
The Whiteoak Canyon & Cedar Run Loop is a popular waterfall hike for those looking for a challenge. The 9 mile loop hikes takes hikers deep into the Shenandoah backcountry and visits a series of stunning waterfalls including Whiteoak Falls and Cedar Run Falls.
It is best to start the hike from the Whiteoak Canyon Boundary parking lot, accessed from the town of Syria, VA. Note that the trailhead is difficult to reach from Skyline Drive, so be sure to take that into account if you plan on visiting other sections of the park.
Find more details on the Whiteoak Canyon Loop below:
Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
Approximate hiking time: 1 – 2 hours
The Dark Hollow Falls Trail is one of the most popular trails in Shenandoah. A short, 1.5 mile round trip hike takes visitors to the beautiful Dark Hollow Falls. Keep in mind that although the distance is quite short, the trail to the falls is very steep.
To reach Dark Hollow Falls you’ll park at the Dark Hollow Falls Parking area located at mile marker 50.7 on Skyline Drive. This is very close to the Big Meadows area of Shenandoah. The NPS publishes a helpful map of Big Meadows, including the Dark Hollow Falls trail here.
Find more details on the Dark Hollow Falls trail below:
Distance: 4 miles
Approximate hiking time: 4 – 5 hours
Rose River Falls are a stunningly beautiful 67′ waterfall in the Big Meadows area of Shenandoah. The falls are accessed via the Rose River Fire Road, located at mile marker 49.4. From here it is a 2 mile, moderately difficult hike to the falls. You can return the same way you came or create a longer loop to also visit Dark Hollow Falls.
If you opt for this option you’ll return to your car by walking back on the Rose River Fire Road. This adds significant time and distance so be sure you are properly prepared.
Find more details on the Rose River Trail in Shenandoah below:
Distance: 3.5 miles
Approximate hiking time: 3 – 4 hours
The Lewis Falls Trail leaves from the centrally located Big Meadows Amphitheatre and takes hikers to a stunning viewpoint of the 81′ tall falls. The trail is a popular one in Shenandoah, so be sure to arrive early on busy summer weekends to avoid the crowds.
The route is approximately 3.5 miles round-trip to the overlook and back, so hikers should plan on spending 3-4 hours on the trail.
Find more details on the Lewis Falls Trail below:
Distance: 2.6 miles
Approximate hiking time: 2 – 3 hours
The double cascades of South River Falls are some of the most stunning in Shenandoah National Park. The falls overlook are accessed via a 2.6 mile out and back trail that departs from Skyline Drive at mile marker 62.7. For those who wish to continue on a bit further you can continue past the overlook to reach the falls themselves.
Find more details on the South River Falls Trail below:
We hope you’ve enjoyed this post on Shenandoah National Park’s waterfalls. Please let us know in the comments below if we missed any of your favorite trails or if you found the information useful! Also, don’t forget to checkout our other Shenandoah National Park guides below: