Tag Archives: Shenandoah

Fox Hollow Trail at Dickey Ridge

When we lived in Charlottesville and the peak of the leaf season rolled around, we would head south to hike to avoid “those DC people.” Today as we sat in a long line of traffic at the park entrance, we had to recognize that we have joined rank among “those DC people.” Nothing like escaping into nature with a few thousand others.
Still, it was beautiful and festive and much more fun than staying home and cleaning the basement.

We checked into the Dickey Ridge visitor center and just missed the ranger talk on bears. Sad. But we picked up a good map and headed into the woods.



I’ll be honest, today was not our best day. Ah, the joys of quality family time, everyone gets to take a turn melting down.




Since morale was low we staid on the short Fox Hollow Trail.


My tree hugger.
Tree climbing helped improve moods.

The leaves were beautiful.



On the way home we stopped at the Apple House for some fresh, warm apple cider doughnuts.


I’m pretty sure we consumed more calories than we burned. All’s well that ends well and I can’t think of many endings better than apple cider doughnuts.



Rose River Falls Loop with Kids

Yesterday we ignored all the usual Saturday to-dos, and snuck back down to Shenandoah for another all day hike. We chose the Rose River Falls Trail because it promised lots of waterfalls for a relatively short 4 mile distance. And let me quote from another description “[The RRFT] is a great trail for those who don’t wish to hike too far nor hike over difficult terrain.”

I will tell you now, that description was not written by a person carrying a 30-40 lb child up the steepest sections of trail. But it was a good length and absolutely beautiful. The shorter distance gave us a lot of time to wander, explore, and play in the falls and pools that line the trail. This is one of the prettiest trails in all of the Shenandoah Park.

One of the best things about being outdoors is letting the kids destroy things. Everywhere else you have to say no to being destructive. On the trail the kids wanted to break open a rotting log. It’s nice to be able to say, sure, go for it, rip that thing up.

The best thing we did on the hike was go clockwise around the loop, taking a sharp left immediately off the fire road. The first sections took us down hill through pretty woods. We passed a lot of very sweaty and winded folks heading up.

After about a mile we came to the little river broken into a series of pools and cascades.

The kids enjoyed taking breaks to throw rocks and explore the pools.

For Miri no stone was too big to throw.

We passed Rose River Falls. It was spectacular. You should see it. Sorry, I didn’t get a chance to take a money shot. There was a group of  twenty-thirty somethings letting their dogs go wild. Don’t get me wrong, I like dogs. But these folks had their dogs muzzled. If the dogs had staid muzzled there might have been a picture, but they unmuzzled the dogs and let them off their leashes to take pictures of them in the falls. Kids and dogs that need to be muzzled is not a good mix, so we had to move on.

At the half way point the kids were tiring but still pretty happy.

Here’s Miri’s favorite way to hike.

The trail looped around and we started to climb uphill. At about the same time, the trail came along side a long series of beautiful falls. This section of the trail was probably the most beautiful section of hiking I’ve done in the park. The scenery was so enchanting, it eased the up-hill climb. I felt like any of the beautiful falls would have been the main event on another trail, and there were literally dozens, one right after the other. It was like walking through waterfall calendar land.

Here’s how M really feels about taking pictures.

R smiled and told me this was the last picture I was allowed to take of him.

I agreed. So here’s unpeopled waterfall calendar land.

Here’s a shot of the “nor over difficult terrain” of the trail which I was carrying M up. I might be a wimp, but I found this part a tad difficult.

More waterfalls.

We made it to Dark Hollow Falls, which can be accessed by a 1 mile fire road so wide and smooth, people were pushing strollers down it. Consequently, there were a ton of folks around taking pictures. Aaron snapped this picture of me.

Here’s what Dark Hollow Falls looks like without me in the way.

I snuck this picture of R crossing the bridge. That kid has an eye for sticks.

The fire road was so smooth and easy, it made a great finish. We were even able to induce M off A’s shoulders. As soon as she got down, she ran the mile up to the road.

She was so fast she left the rest of us behind. Of course the rest of us actually walked the past 3.5 miles.

Here’s another beautiful thing about hiking. The kids normally wake up between 6:30 and 7 every morning. Here’s M at 8:30 today.

Hazel River Trail with kids

Since the weather is perfect, our ambition got the better of us and we decided to try a longer hike. We usually hike for 2-3 hours. This Hazel River Trail kept us busy for just under 6 hours.

Here are the before pictures.



The trail wasn’t easy. The path was often steeply inclined, rocky, root clogged, and sandy making it very easy to slip. But the kids did a great job. They ran the flat sections and held our hands to hop down the steeper sections.


I have to admit I didn’t do a great job scouting the hike. We picked it because of the promise of a waterfall surrounded by caves. To get there you have to turn right after .5 miles, left after 1.6 miles, then right after an additional .9 miles, for a plummeting .2 mile descent to the pool and cave area where we wandered for another good .5 mile. All those distances looked so small on paper. Seems obvious but I forgot to add them up. (And that’s only halfway since you need to come back) I also forgot to factor in that this is Shenandoah where elevation change matters as much as mileage. So we took a lot of breaks.

Reuben appreciated a little bed of moss around mile 2.5.


The .2 decent. A carried M and I spotted R down the cliff of stairs.


And we made it! The waterfall’s tiny rock valley was as gorgeous and fun and magical as we had hoped. The caves were not large or deep, but sizable enough to be exciting exploring for a 2 and 3 year old.






The waterfall was beautiful.


After we climbed through the caves we picnicked on a rock ledge by the falls.


This next picture is deceiving. We tried to suggest a nice relaxed nap by the water but the kids refused. Pity. So instead A let them go skinny-dipping in the ice cold mountain water. Craziness. I was opposed for energy reservation reasons but the kids loved it. R’s skin turned blue and we still had to drag him from the water against his will.


At this point I was finally starting to do my addition and it was making me nervous. We’d been on the trail for about 3 hours and since we hadn’t started til noon I was concerned we might run out of daylight before we made it back. The kids were also pretty spent so they wouldn’t be moving fast. A and I talked strategy and decided we’d probably need to carry the kids out most of the way.
So we headed back up the cliff stairs of the .2.


.2 sounds like nothing but this was seriously the hardest point of the hike. A was carrying M and R was doing great but I still needed to lift him up a few places. It was strenuous. And by that I mean my body started having fits of contractions. Bad sign. But we made it to the top and took a nice breather.

Then on we went. M was done at this point. She had to be carried and R was collapsing. So how do you hike out with 2 wilted kids and one physically compromised parent? Be amazed. I know A won’t like this picture but it is too impressive not to show. He did this for miles.


My contractions died down and then we did 2 and 4 minute shifts with M riding on my shoulders and R on A’s, then M on A’s shoulders and R walking with me. M was so tired she fell asleep sitting on our shoulders. But we finished in the daylight and everyone staid pretty happy. R did try to suggest we leave M to be eaten by bears so he could ride on A’s shoulders the whole way back but other than that I think it was great family bonding time. I love my family.

R: No more pictures!!


Goodbye Shenandoah the beautiful.