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trail running
12 days ago

Was able to make the loop in three hours of steady pace. Give yourself longer if you want to enjoy the summit and pause to eat.

This was a pretty hard trail loop to be honest. We went during the summer, which was a big mistake. It’s amazing for a hard days hike, but be warned: it’s not well hiked, which means the cover is VERY thick and VERY prickly. We had bloodied arms and legs...and pair of leggings torn.
Absolutely worth the views at the top and along the way.
The ascent to the peak is a nice climb, great for a workout. Would love to go back and do this loop in the fall/winter when the brush isn’t so thick.

Awesome hike! A little bit of sleet and snow on the way up, but the view at the top is so worth it! Would budget about 3.5 hours for a moderate pace. Would definitely do again!

Really really awesome hike!

Hiked this loop on 12-30–18, starting with Kennedy peak and looping back up from the west. Great views along the ridge and up and down Kennedy peak. The trail was in good condition for the most part. Took two of us and a dog about 4.5 hours with about 15 minutes on Kennedy Peak. It was a Sunday before New Years so there were a lot of people (with dogs) at the peak and on the trail. We passed one group of about 10 people, several families, and a dude on a horse.

The only trouble we had was the transition from the orange to yellow blazed trail along the ridge. The intersection is now marked with a stack of three stones as the path was hard to recognize with the fallen leaves. This hike is worth doing once, but if your looking for solitude, check it out on a weekday.

Also parked at end of Horsehead Rd and did trail clockwise. Skyline Drive was closed that day because there had been an ice storm 4 days before. So on the trail there were lots of blowndown branches and limbs- but all were passable. Even had some areas of ice on trail, but more crunchy than slick. Hike up Trayfoot was long but not too steep - a good workout. Since leaves were off the trees, I had lots of good views both east and west since much of time on a ridgeline. Got to BlackRock summit and it was spectacular views in many directions. I was only one around and it was special to have the summit to myself. Hike down Paine Run trl was uneventful - it is more like a fire road. However, due to this season of rain, I had 2 water crossings going up and 3 coming down. Passable with water shoes ( came up just short of knee) but water was really cold. Total distance was 10.5 miles

A little rocky, but overall a great hike for people and pups alike!

This is a beautiful hike. Most of the trail is along streams and the waterfalls are awesome! If you do the whole loop I wouldn’t recommend small children. Also, wear hiking boots or waterproof boots. The whole loop is an all day hike.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike! My girlfriend and I did the Rip Rap/Wildcat loop as a two day backcountry camping trip and had an excellent time. The NPS Guide recommends camping somewhere just after you turn onto the Wildcat Ridge trail off of the Rip Rap trail but we opted to get in another mile and half or so to shorten our hike the next morning. We hiked about 6 miles the first day and the remaining 3.5 the following morning. We managed to find a nice little spot to set up camp after about 6 miles, and realized hiking out the next day that we found one of the only decent spots to camp in that mileage range. You'd either need to hike almost clear to end of the loop or camp back at the trail merge otherwise. The first six miles had a few great views from the ridge line and then some cool stream crossings, small waterfalls, and a deep swimming hole as you hiked through the valley before heading back uphill again. I highly recommend bringing a change of socks as some of the stream crossings can be sketchy and there's a chance you're going to put a foot in the water... All in all, great hike, great way to see the leaves change.

It was a good hike first 2 miles difficult. You get spectacular views along the way. After 2 miles levels out to a trail intersection where we turned back. Nice hike

hiking
3 months ago

Only managed to do part of the trail due to time restrictions, but decent hike. We went counter clockwise so had a decent amount of elevation change. Hope to return to finish the rest of the trail.

Didn’t do the whole trail maybe 40% if it and the views were underwhelming. At least for the eastern side of the loop.

Parking near trailhead is tricky. Don’t park on gravel road next to gate/chain. Park about 159 yards before there in area at side of the road. Access to trail requires crossing a stream - over a fallen tree.

Always a great hike...

hiking
3 months ago

Definitely recommend going counterclockwise on the loop! We went clockwise and skipped right past all of the scenic parts. We had a great time but got really frustrated having to cross the river three times and the water was up to our knees. Bring water shoes!

hiking
3 months ago

Tough due to all the rocks but a good hike. Not many view opportunities but a great day in nature.

3 months ago

Was boring at times with only a couple great views. The watering hole was a lot of fun though.

This was a great hike if we had't gotten lost; not that it wasn't well marked, but be sure to read all reviews and everyone's notes before doing these hikes. We started at the wrong point - at the Overlook - and hooked up with the trail without a problem, but at about the 8 mile mark (yes we'd already gone off the trail at one point) we mistakenly took the fire trail and ended up 2 miles out of our way. However, if you stay on the trail, this is an excellent one as it is nice and clear, the falls are some of the prettiest in that you get SO close, and it was just overall a very pleasant hike. It is definitely a long downhill followed by a long uphill but they are gradual enough to not burn too badly. You do have to cross the river a few times and it was wet; I would allow about 6 hours for the hike.

hiking
4 months ago

Great views loved the swimming pond

Great trail, nothing too technical, elevation changes and length make the challenge. Just take your time, enjoy the views, rest occasionally, and you’ll have a great time.

Awesome trail! Very scenic!

This took longer to get to from the DC area than some of the other hikes, but it was a nice first venture into the southern section of Shenandoah for us. Like others have commented, this is a 8+ mile hike; we never strayed far from the path and clocked in at 8.33 miles in 4.5 hours. While this trail is rated as moderate, this seems to be on the harder end of moderate. The descent to the falls and the ascent are relatively steep and are pretty rocky, with some areas of loose and wet rocks.

You have to cross the river multiple times, but the water was low when we went and not too difficult. There are areas of the path that are relatively narrow and have a steep drop off. That said, the 3 main waterfalls were well worth the trek and you can get pretty close to them. The first half of the hike was very scenic if you start along Doyle’s river trail, but once you get on the Appalachian trail, it’s just a hike to get back to your car with one scenic overlook near the end.

One of the best trails I have been to. If you start at Doyles river trailhead, you run down the hill, walk along the Doyles river and walk up the hill along the Jones river and see multiple little falls along the way. Then get back the loop on the Appalachian trail with different kind of views with a skyline dr overlook. Its a beautiful hike. We had awesome time. Plan for around 6 hrs of hiking on this trail. Highly recommended.

A beautiful hike with wonderful water features. Trail is well marked and difficult in only a few relatively short sections. Well shaded the entire length.

hiking
4 months ago

Fun hike with at least one cool swimming hole. Just make sure you know the route if you are doing the full loop or you may end up outside of the park.

REI picks this trail as one of ‘thee’ best hikes in SNP, and I agree! Experienced torrential down pour for most of the hike, even without that I would recommend a hiking waterproof sandal that is durable with great traction... lots of wet rocks and with parts of the river overflowing you cross ‘rapid’ like waters. Wanted to challenge myself so went down Jones Run and up Doyles River... it is a steep incline!! Trail clearly warns of black bears. Don’t forget your bear bell... I didn’t see any but I hope it’s cause they heard me coming!

Great hike. not sure I agree with distance. think it is closer to 8.5. this has to be one of my favorite hikes ever. they say there are only three waterfalls but you follow the river for more then half the hike and see countless small waterfalls. took family of 6 with kids 10 to 17 and they had no issues. we are in shape and need to old the youngest hands in a couple of spots. we choose to take shoes off on couple of river crossings as rocks looked more difficult. would definitely recommend.

This trail was overgrown and full of pricker bushes. We made it about a half mile in and had to turn back because we were cut up so badly. If you are going to do this trail make sure to wear pants and long sleeves.

Pleasant hike! Steady incline but not treacherous! Woodsy & pleasant along the way with okay views! Traveling w 2 others (ages 24 athletic but not experienced hiker & 9 year old, fairly experienced hiker) and both traversed it fine! We had to turn around about 2/3 in due to impending storm!
*PARKING NOTE! Stop and park about 1/4 mile short of gps destination! Park on the right side where the road widens or a chained area on the left that says private property! If you continue straight one the one lane - it stops at a chain across the road & you have to back up to the widened area!

Amazing Trail! Great views of waterfalls and pretty nature!

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