• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    8.3 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2200 Feet

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

The Three Falls Hike in Shenandoah National Park will take you past three beautiful waterfalls all found within the central district of the park: Lewis Spring Falls, Dark Hollow Falls, and Rose River Falls. The trail has has some great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Three Falls Hike in Shenandoah National Park will take you past three beautiful waterfalls all found within the central district of the park: Lewis Spring Falls, Dark Hollow Falls, and Rose River Falls. You are able to start the loop from any of the waterfalls’ trailheads, but I prefer to start at the Lewis Spring Fall Trailhead because it has the largest parking area and a bathroom.  To reach the Lewis Spring Falls parking area, follow Skyline Drive to mile marker 51, Big Meadows Campground.  Turn onto Big Meadows Road, and follow it a few miles toward the campground past the Big Meadows Wayside Station.  Just before the campground check-in, the road will “Y.”  Stay to the left, and head up toward the picnic area.  On the north end of the parking lot, you will find the Lewis Spring Falls Trailhead.

To start your 8.3 mile loop, hike about 100 yards until you pick up the Appalachian Trail (AT), and turn left at the junction toward Lewis Springs Falls and then a quick right following the blue blazes of the Lewis Spring Falls Trail.  Hike the 1.2 miles along the Lewis Spring Falls Trail as the trail descends to the top of the falls. While hiking along the ridge, there are a few good rock outcroppings providing some great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Once at the falls, there is no easy way to get to the bottom of Lewis Spring Falls, but there is an outlook that has an amazing side view of the falls. To reach the outlook, cross Hawksbill Creek, and follow the overlook trail down to the side view.   After viewing the falls, cross back over the creek and continue along the Lewis Spring Falls Trail for 0.4 miles until you reach the AT, and continue straight along the path onto a fire road for another 0.2 miles until you reach Skyline Drive.  Turn left along Skyline Drive toward Big Meadows, and hike past the wayside station and the visitor center to the Story of the Forest Nature Trailhead located at the aast end of the visitor center parking lot (0.4 miles).  Follow the Nature Trail for 0.3 miles until you see a sign for Dark Hollow Falls, and cross Skyline Drive to reach the trailhead for Dark Hollow Falls.  Follow the blue blazes of the Dark Hollow Falls trail for 0.7 miles to the base of the falls.  Dark Hollow Falls is one of the prettiest waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park and is a great place to stop for lunch or a snack.  After enjoying the falls, continue down along the Dark Hollow Falls Trail for another 0.1 miles until you reach the junction of the Rose River Falls Fire Roads.  Cross over the fire road towards following the blue blazes for 1.2 miles down toward Hog Branch/ Rose River Falls.  Rose River Falls is best seen during the spring or after a heavy rain.  During the summer and fall, Rose River Falls turns more into a trickle than a waterfall, but when the water is flowing over the falls, this is a beautiful waterfall.  After enjoying the falls, continue another 0.7 miles up the Rose River Trail until you reach the Rose River Horse Trail.  Turn left onto the horse trail following the yellow blazes for 0.6 mile until you once again intersect the Rose River Fire Road.  Turn right at the junction, and follow the fire road about 200 yards to Skyline Drive. Cross over Skyline Drive, and follow the fire road until you intersect the AT.  Turn left onto the AT passing below the Fishers Gap Overlook, and hike the 1.5 miles back to the Lewis Spring Falls Trail Head and your vehicle.  

For tips on how to capture a waterfall with silky smooth water click here

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Water
  • Snack/Lunch
  • Tripod
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Brandon Dewey Explorer

I am a Father, Photographer, Adventurer, and World Explorer (26 countries and counting). I'm from the Bay Area but I'm currently living outside of Richmond, Virginia.

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