The Shenandoah National Park Trail That Ends In A Stunning Waterfall

If you're in the Great Smoky Mountains, why not follow the historic Blue Ridge Parkway to the lesser-visited Shenandoah National Park in Virginia? Just 75 miles south of Washington D.C., the National Park Service states that Shenandoah is more than 200,000 acres of waterfalls, vistas, wildflowers, black bears, and so much more. Nature is the name of the game in this region, and a trip to Shenandoah is incomplete without a scenic hike along the Rose River Loop Trail. According to the National Park Service, this 4-mile roundtrip loop hike follows much of the Rose River and passes by a stunning 67-foot waterfall, aptly named Rose River Falls.

Rated moderate, even experienced hikers should still be prepared to put in a little sweat equity with a 910-foot elevation gain. The National Park Service states this requires some 4.5 hours of hiking time, but the trekking site All Trails puts it at about two hours on average. Likely if you stop for photos and a bite to eat, it'll be somewhere between those times. It's also one of the area's pet-friendly trails, so feel free to bring your pooch. Also, keep in mind that cell phone service and GPS are unreliable in this part of Shenandoah, so it's best to have a paper map on hand to know where you're going.

Getting to the waterfall

To get there, head to the north end of the Fishers Gap parking area (often referred to as the Rose River Falls Loop Trail parking area) along the park's Skyline Drive at mile marker 49.4. Cross Skyline Drive and start down the Rose River Fire Road, then soon after hanging a left onto the Skyland-Big Meadows Horse Trail before linking with the Rose River Loop Trail.

After a stop at Rose River Falls, the National Park Service explains that hikers continue to a bridge where they'll begin ascending a steep, rocky section past the beautiful cascades. Continuing to the southernmost point of the loop trail, there's a relatively short detour on the Dark Hollow Falls Trail, near where the Rose River Loop Trail meets the fire road. It adds only about a quarter-mile of hiking and treats you to views of the 70-foot Dark Hollow Falls. However, due to the intensity of this short, challenging part of the trail, dogs are not allowed (per the National Park Service). The trail is open year-round, but after a rainstorm, keep in mind the area will be quite muddy, according to hikers via AllTrails, and you'll want to allow extra time and maybe an old pair of boots to complete the hike.