Love hiking in the Shenandoah Mountains, but hate the long drive? Let’s get an early start and make the drive worthwhile by taking in two short hikes:
- Dark Hollow Falls: A 1.4-mile round trip hike to enjoy this beautiful 70-foot waterfall. Moderate difficulty; it’s easy downhill to the falls, but coming back uphill is challenging.
- Hawksbill: A 2.1 or 2.9 mile round trip hike, depending on parking availability. At 4,050 feet, Hawksbill is the highest point in the Shenandoah National Park (SNP), so the view is spectacular! Moderate to moderately difficult.
- We will meet at 8:00 am at the Vienna Metro Station North Parking Lot, Virginia Center Blvd & Centerboro Dr, Oakton, Fairfax, Virginia 22181, (GPS =[masked],[masked]) to carpool for the drive to Shenandoah National Park. Estimated driving time is 1 hour, 52 minutes.
- After the drive, we will assemble at SNP Visitor Center, probably around 10:00 am. Drivers may wish to consider taking on fuel. Once all cars have arrived and everyone has had a pit stop, we’ll move to Dark Hollow Trailhead nearby for the first hike. If we get started around 10:30 am, we should return to the Visitor Center afterwards around noon.
- After everyone is accounted for and has had a chance for a pit stop, we’ll re-embark and drive to Hawksbill Trailhead for the second hike, getting started around 1:00 pm. It’s a short hike, so we should be finished around 3:00 pm for the return drive, arriving back at the Vienna Metro Station at around 5:00 pm.
Meetup for carpooling: Vienna Metro Station North Parking Lot, Virginia Center Blvd & Centerboro Dr, Oakton, Fairfax, Virginia 22181, GPS =[masked],[masked]
Driving directions from Vienna Metro to SNP: From the exit of the Vienna Metro North parking lot, head east on Virginia Center Blvd, take the ramp onto I-66 W, and drive 19 miles west. Take exit 43A onto US-29 S/Lee Hwy and drive 11.5 miles. Turn slightly right onto US-15 Business S/US-29 Business S and drive 2.1 miles. Turn right onto US-211 W/Frost Ave/Lee Hwy and drive west along US-211 W for 33.9 miles. Take the exit for Skyline Dr, stop for park entry tollbooth, and keep left at the fork to merge onto Skyline Dr heading south. Follow Skyline Drive 19.7 miles southwest to the Visitor Center. (You will pass both trailhead parking lots along the way.)
Meetup in SNP: Harry F. Byrd Visitor Center, Skyline Drive, Shenandoah, VA 22851. GPS =[masked],[masked]
What to bring: Plenty of water, comfy/sturdy shoes, and a sack lunch/snacks. Sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellent are good accessories. Sorry, pets are not allowed on Dark Hollows Trail. This is a kids-free zone, no one under 18 please.
Cost: Entry fee to SNP is $15 per car, payable at the Thornton Gap tollbooth. Contributions for gas to car drivers as needed for the trip is an additional expense.
- Although short, both of the trails are moderate to moderately difficult. We want you to have fun, so please consider your individual fitness level when signing up for this hike.
- Check the SNP park alerts in effect: http://tinyurl.com/nm5aj5c
Administrative stuff: Restrooms, drinking fountains, first aid, food and gas are available at the Visitor Center. (Drivers NB: this is the only gas available inside the park.)
- Google directions from Vienna Metro to the Visitor Center: http://tinyurl.com/qxygeta
- SNP Skyline Drive driving map (PDF): http://tinyurl.com/3dr59y
- SNP hiking maps: http://tinyurl.com/6m7gys
- SNP fees: http://tinyurl.com/pbbudrb
- TopoQuest map of Visitor Center/Dark Hollow Falls: http://tinyurl.com/nr8vgpu
- TopoQuest map of Hawksbill: http://tinyurl.com/pn3eee3
- Harry S. Byrd Visitor Center, mile marker 51, GPS =[masked],[masked]
- Dark Hollow Trail, mile marker 50.7, GPS =[masked],[masked]
- Hawksbill Gap parking, mile marker 45.6, GPS =[masked],[masked]
- Upper Hawksbill parking, mile marker 46.7, GPS =[masked],[masked]