Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Dark Hollow and Rose River Falls

Friday May 25, 2018                                                                       Most Recent Posts:
Lewis Mountain Campground
Lewis Mountain Top
Shenandoah National Park                                                               More Wonder Headed North

The Dark Hollow Falls Trail begins on the Skyline Drive near Big Meadows and follows Hogcamp Branch, on my right,  down hill.


I prefer to hike my waterfalls coming up so I can enjoy all the cascades without having to turn around.  But that means I have to get to the bottom to come back up.  There are several ways to do that including just hiking Dark Hollow down and then back out.  Today I’ve decided to hike Dark Hollow down and the longer Rose River Falls Trail back up to Skyline Drive.


The music of the branch is lovely and it is wonderful to have it so near that I can look over and see the cascades and little fallettes.   Can I make up a new word?


There are several pools that would make for great swimming on a hot day.  Today is not one of those and this water is COLD.

I reach the top of the falls where I can see the Hogcamp Branch going over for the upper falls.


Usually the falls are  not so full and I can walk out on the rocks in order to get a picture of the entire fall from very top where one big fall divides into two and then all the way down but it’s too deep, too strong and too slippery today.


Here’s a different angle from below the pool so I can see the very top.


This is a zoom of the very top.  LOTS of water coming over.


There are more fallettes and at least one more pool before I reach the bottom of the Dark Hollow Trail and the lower falls.


Some people turned around at the upper falls and hiked back up.  The ones who came all the way down either turn around or take the Rose River Fire Road back up to the Skyline Drive but they’ll be about 2 miles north of where they parked their cars.  OR they take the Rose River Falls trail up to that same spot which is what I’m doing today.


I follow the Rose River up

It’s a rugged path and the wet areas are slippery.  In these situations, I’d much rather be climbing up than coming down.  At least I don’t slip as much going up.    This section goes down to the river, then walks along it, crosses over  and then climbs back up to the falls.  So there  is a bit of slipping going on here and fewer pictures.  See the trail, see the river way down there on the left.


It’s just one  cascade after another.


Wonderfully close to the trail eventually.



I can see ahead the very nice metal bridge to take hikers to the other side of the river.


Is that picturesque or what?


On the other side the climb is all up.



Many parks all over the country seem to have one of these perched on top rocks that people like to try to push off.  Here it can’t be a glacial erratic since the ice sheet stopped in Pennsylvania. So I have no idea how such a round rock came to be or got there.  Glad no one is trying to push it today or it would roll right over me.


Zoomed in it looks like a composite.  Can you help me out Sue Malone?


From the very rocky path I can see the falls in the distance.


Better though blocked views the closer I get.  Clearly there is A LOT of water pouring down.


I wander around taking pictures from every angle.  Can’t decide what I like best.  Straight on in the middle of the river would be nice.  HA!


I find a place where it is possible to climb down onto the rocks beside the pool.


Ok I’ve found the spot.  Despite the photo bombing branch, it’s a decent look at the Rose River Falls.


Here’s the tricky trail I take to get up to the top.  All part of the Rose River Trail.  Don’t try this one in flip flops.

Standing on top I’m very happy that the park has decided not to put up barriers and rails.


The Rose River flows down, picks up Hogspen Branch at the bottom of the falls trail, flows a total of 8.8 miles and out of the park where it joins up with the Robinson River and ultimately all 3 combined join the Rapidan River.


Leaving the falls, I’m still walking up stream following the river which rises from a spring, I assume,  south of Hawksbill Mountain.



At this point I reach one of the wonderful cement markers that are unique to Shenandoah but should not be.  Every park should have these, their metal bands tell what’s in every direction.  They tell me I have 9/10ths of a mile to go to reach Skyline Drive. 


It continues to be a steady though easier climb up for my last stretch but now the question becomes, when I reach the drive, then what?  Do I add 2 miles onto my hike by taking the AT back to Ruby.   Or can I hitch a ride with someone going back to Big Meadows.


And the answer is that shortly after I reach the parking lot, a father and grown son pair, that I spoke to on the trail come out of the woods.  I say hello again and ask if they happen to be going to Big Meadows.  They are and would bbe happy to give me a ride to the Dark Hollow Falls parking on their way.   So I am happily chauffeured in a snazy BMW.    Wonderful ending to a fabulous waterfall day!!


  1. Great hike! I remember these two trails. Amazing lot of water coming from mountain top springs! How beautiful. Sounds like a trail deserving of a good hiking stick. Did you use one? Remember, Ruby has one that may even have a Shenandoah NP hiking medallion on it. ;)

  2. Looks a bit like it might be part of the Greenstone Lava Flow, sandwiched between the two older metamorphic rock groups that make up the Shenandoah. We had greenstones like this in the Sierra Nevada Foothills where I worked for 4 years.

    Quoted from the park page, "Perhaps the most unique rocks in Shenandoah National Park are the greenstones, old lava flows that now cap many of the highest peaks in the park. These rocks preserve evidence of a very different time in Shenandoah’s history, around 570 million years ago, when two tectonic plates began to spread apart along a system of rifts thousands of miles long. Molten rock from deep within the earth rose through these rifts, spilling out onto the surface as vast quantities of lava eventually covering over 4,000 square miles! The lava flows spread across the landscape previously defined by much older igneous and metamorphic rocks, filling in valleys and lapping up against hills and old, eroded mountains. Together, the related lava flows in Virginia, Maryland, and southern Pennsylvania are called the Catoctin Formation. There were no volcanoes in Shenandoah, however; most evidence suggests that the source rifts were located well to the east."

    1. Thank you Sue. Looks like I might have looked at the park web page to find this answer. Glad you recognized it. A Greenstone Lava ball I guess. Very interesting.

  3. Pretty scenery. Reminds me so much of Catoctin State Park North of Frederick.

  4. What a lovely collection of waterfalls!

  5. Excellent hike...will have to remember this for future if I ever get my Achilles back to normal!

  6. "Fallettes" has a nice ring to it! I've stayed at Lewis Mtn Campground one time when I drove from the northernmost point of Skyline Drive, all the way down to the Smoky Mtns.

  7. Although all the rains seemed never ending this Spring, they sure made for some beautiful waterfalls. What a lovely set of falls and fallettes;o)) Lots of overflowing falls down here in the Smokys as well!!

  8. So much water in the falls! And yes, you can make up new words to describe the beauty and wonder that you see. Fallettes is a very good word. :-) I agree, hiking uphill is much easier when the trails are muddy!

  9. What a breathtaking place. Your pictures made me feel like I was right there of course without the sound of the water. Thanks for sharing

  10. Nice to see so much water flowing somewhere. I like the falls and fallettes. Interesting bit of geology having lava in the area.

  11. Love the mist that waterfalls create. Such a relaxing place to sit and meditate.

  12. The falls are lovely. Hiking along waterfalls is so much fun. The sound of water is so relaxing. I couldn't get over the amount of water. That is so nice to see. I was wondering how hot it was but then I checked your date. You were probably having wonderful spring weather. Love that pretty little bridge:)

  13. Great falls and hike. It has been a bunch of years since we have been in that area.

  14. Looks like a great hike. I want to travel the world just seeing waterfalls.

  15. What a beautiful hike along the water!! The falls are spectacular with all that water, and yes I think fallettes is the perfect description of the smaller ones :-) From now on when I get to a place where I wish there was a railing I'll think "Sherry would like this!"

  16. I love that hike, but have always turned around and hiked back up. I should try your route. I want to take the grandkids because it would be interesting for them, not too difficult, and is busy enough that if Granny has a mishap, there are enough people around to help. ☺️ Sad, but true. (I used to prefer isolated hikes, but no more.) I wish I had them this weekend because the water is high. Drat. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Love this hike! The water sounds terrific all the way- thanks to all the rain. Fallettes ... the perfect descriptor :)

  18. Love your hiking blogs, especially this one since we hiked the Rose River Trail in 9/12. Beautiful pictures brought back some wonderful memories.


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