Shenandoah National Park: Dark Hollow Falls

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Jason and I had less than 24 hours to spend in Shenandoah National Park, so it was important for us to make the most of our time. When we got to Skyland Resort, it was still too early for us to check in. We decided to continue south along Skyline Drive and take the short hike along the Dark Hollow Falls trail.

Dark Hollow

Dark Hollow Falls is one of the easiest waterfalls to get to in Shenandoah. Unbeknownst to me, there are several waterfalls in the park. White Oak Canyon Falls came highly recommended, but it didn’t feel like something we could do this trip. White Oak would have been about five miles round trip, versus less than two miles for Dark Hollow. The other factor was the general difference between the hikes in Shenandoah and those we’ve experienced in Yosemite. Most of the hikes in Shenandoah begin with the easiest effort (i.e. going downhill) and save the hard stuff for the final half. And the 440 feet of elevation loss/gain for Dark Hollow felt much more doable than 1200 feet for White Oak Canyon.

If you are planning a trip to Shenandoah, White Oak Canyon would be well worth checking out. Again, it came highly recommended by Shenandoah regulars we spoke to and from the pictures I’ve seen, it looks beautiful. It’s definitely on our list for the next trip (because I already know I want to go back).

Dark Hollow Falls Trail

Temperatures that day were in the 60’s, but strong winds provided a slight chill to the air. However, the combination of hiking and heading down to a lower elevation heated me up quickly. It was actually quite ideal for hiking.

Stream

The trail itself was very well maintained. Hiking it was a pleasure. Because it was mid-November, there were very few others on the trail (which is apparently one of the most popular trails in the park). We encountered only three other couples, so it felt like we had the trail all to ourselves.

Rest

When we reached the falls, we made a quick stop at the observation point at the top. A steep switchback gets you to the base of the falls and is well worth the extra effort.

Dark Hollow Falls

Note: Jason took the above photo standing on a rock in the middle of the creek. We couldn’t help but chuckle. In Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon, doing this means certain death. Jason was more than safe, but we still found it funny. My only regret is that I didn’t have my small camera with me so I could have captured the moment from above.

Pool Below the Falls

We lingered below the falls for a short time and then began my least favorite part of any hike: going up. However, Jason observed that this might be the more ideal order for a hike.

Thinking back to our Vernal/Nevada Falls hike two summers ago in Yosemite, we were both mentally ready to throw in the towel and turn back throughout the first, upward half of the hike. It’s not like we had to reach the top of Nevada Fall. If we didn’t get there, we would have just failed and disappointed ourselves.

This time, we had to hike up. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t get back to the car and we would have been stuck in the hollow for all time. I see Jason’s logic  🙂

Honestly, the hike back to the car wasn’t so bad. I made Jason take the lead to keep us at a slow, steady pace. He was determined to not stop, and we made it the whole return hike without resting. Yay us!

Happy Hiker

Dark Hollow Falls was a nice little hike, and a beautiful way to begin our experience in Shenandoah National Park.

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