Hazel Mountain, Sam's Ridge, White Rocks Loop [CLOSED]

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Shenandoah National Park

Hazel Mountain, Sam's Ridge, White Rocks Loop is a 16.9 kilometer lightly trafficked loop trail located near Syria, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 16.9 km Elevation Gain: 753 m Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

cave

forest

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

scramble

closed

Many trailheads in this park are closed due to COVID-19. Please check the park website for up to date info on which trails are accessible.

hiking
9 days ago

Please note— parking along Woodward Rd (bottom trail access) is currently closed by the county and SNP because of community health concerns. This trail is only accessible via Skyline Drive for the foreseeable future.

hiking
16 days ago

Hiked on 3/22/2020 and got an early start (0700) to avoid other people and the overcrowding that had been seen at Shenandoah in the past few days due to the waiving of entrance fees and the social distancing order in place. My Garmin watch had the total distance at 11.98 miles and it took just under 6 hours. I was nearly alone on the trail in it’s entirety (encountered 19 people over those 12 miles), with the majority of those encounters occurring towards the bottom of the White Rocks trail (fly fishers and overnight campers) and then again back toward the top of the trail. The parking lot was insanity (people parking on the grass along both sides of Skyline—a no-no for sure— when I reached it afterward. But that’s a different story. The hike itself was good if you’re looking for distance and a challenge. The trail starts wide, as it’s a fire road, and then narrows considerably. It’s marked well but be sure to bring a map— it feels longer than the actual distance in some places. I hiked it clock wise and hit the falls and cave areas on my way down— a neat spot with a pretty steep decline over the 0.2 turn off trail for the falls but it’s doable if you’re decently in shape and in proper footwear (boots). The river crossings were doable but then last two in encountered were pretty deep (knee high on a 6’0” frame) but are manageable if you cross a little up or below the actual trail crossing over the rocks there. Or bring shoes to switch out of. Personally, over the ankle waterproof hiking boots and knee high gaiters over hiking pants bod great at keeping dry and keep one from carrying extra weight. The turn and ascent back up to Sam’s ridge are the most intense part of this trail and go at a heart-pounding incline for over a good 1.0-1.5 miles. Take it easy and rest when you need to. Heading back up was slower but nice and when the trees are bare you can see for miles at the tops of these ridges. While I did see signs of bear, none were encountered on this hike. A large majority of this trail is through considerable brush/ bushes/ briars and while then trail itself was clear save a few fallen trees that had been cut but not cleared, it’s manageable. I carried my usual hiking pack (10 essentials, a few extra items, and 2 medium Nalgene bottles, one of which I drank on trail, other at car) and would recommend bling pants to avoid the briars/ticks/chiggers that one would expect to encounter in the woods. Overall, a decently tough trail. Happy hiking!

25 days ago

Trailhead was easy to find and was marked. I hiked this counterclockwise with my dog and did it as a one night backpacking hike. We only saw one group first day (a Thursday) and just two groups the second day. Trails were clearly marked. Best camping spot was about 6.5 miles in at the fourth river crossing. That crossing did require me to change out of my boots into water shoes since it had rained all night and the rocks for hopping were too wet to step on. We did this in mid-March. First day was a lot of steep downhill and second day was a lot of steep uphill. The waterfall and cave were worth seeing and required going up and down stone stairs essentially. Great hike!

hiking
private property
2 months ago

Trailhead does not exist where the map indicates.

hiking
closed
over grown
private property
3 months ago

Could not pinpoint entrance of trail. No where to park. Looks to be private property. Need to start on skyline drive and go down to water.

This was a great hike!

Really good hike. The incline/decline is a workout. Once you get to the bottom you get to hike along a creek for quite some time. Did encounter a bear on this one.

hiking
7 months ago

We did this from Woodward Rd not Skyline drive. A great 10 plus mile loop day hike. Went 3 hours into the loop before seeing another person. So hard to find that anywhere in the Shenandoah. Yes some parts of the trail are overgrown with grasses, but the trail condition is really quite nice compared to most other routes in this area.

hiking
7 months ago

This trail meet my expectations: good overnight site with the sound of water by the river, great greenish with scenic view, tough workout and a waterfall. My fiancé and I walked about 6.5 to find the only camping site by the river and then walked about two miles uphill to sight the water fall/cave!! I recommend this trail for camping and for a tough workout in nature!!

hiking
7 months ago

The trailhead for the Hazel Mt loop is at the Meadows Spring parking lot located two miles south of the Thornton's Gap entrance. We started with 45 lbs packs (did 10 miles previous day, age mid 50s) walked 1.6 miles to the first intersection and took the right at  fork to the Hazel Mountain River trail. Nice down hill for a long time, maybe two miles. Not many great camp sites so if you are doing overnight loop I would knock this section out first. Lots of thickets, bear signs, and high moisture. Yummy blackberries! Next two miles up and down then some steep straight up climbs. We walked until we found the white rock trail marker. Met nice overnighter who informed us of some good camps sites further up ( 30 meters).  Good sites along river to put up tent, clean up and is largest stream on the hike. There is not much easily accesible large streams past this point. Stopping here puts you at about the 6.5 mile mark, leaving you about 4 miles for the return trip. Next day its straight up three peaks with little relief. Start slow, taper off, lol.  A few good camp site in this area along the trail but water is well below if at all. Stored packs and went to view cave and falls. Not impressed but I would see for yourself. The caves are about 2.5 miles to parking lot  Enjoyed hike but was not easy.  Headed out 211and drove few miles  to old town Sperryville on 211 for really good pizza and great saisson at Rappahannock Pizza Kitchen. Good day.

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

We didn't review the elevation changes so it was quite a workout for us. The falls area was a beautiful respite.

backpacking
over grown
rocky
scramble
10 months ago

Great trail for backpacking. A little over grown and lightly used in some areas. Lots of great stream crossings- bring water shoes if you do the full loop.

hiking
over grown
10 months ago

The most exciting part was Cave Falls -- loved the rather steep scramble. Comparing to White Oak Canyon trail, stream crossing was pretty dry and not much view.

hiking
10 months ago

The river portions are worth the trek in. We did the trail in reverse and hiked in along white rocks, checked out the falls and made camp near the third peak on white rocks trail. On the second day we hiked down along the river and back out Sam’s Ridge. The ridge trail is very steep. 2 miles mostly straight up (or down the other direction) this is what makes it a tough trail. All in all, took us about 6.5hrs with full packs while also lingering at the falls, refilling water at the river and searching for a campsite.

hiking
10 months ago

Tough but great!

backpacking
off trail
10 months ago

Tough Hike. Water crossings are deep.

hiking
Sun Apr 07 2019

This trail circuit definitely doesn’t get as much hype as it should, I loved it. I’ve done most hikes in this area of Shenandoah and this one stands up next to those. I recommend doing it counter clockwise, which is what I did. The hike is relatively uneventful until you hit that deep dip near Woodward road at the boundary. From there you walk along hazel river, crossing it several times. Note that when I did some of these crossings it was April, and for some I just had to take off my boots and wade through the water. Maybe in summer you can cross easier. The walk along hazel river was unexpected but awesome. Right after the stiff climb in elevation you get to go peak hopping, it was a foggy morning but on a clear day those views would be amazing. All I could see were mountain tops poking through the clouds below. The cave falls were very cool, though I think it’s where most/any of the crowd will be. We started at 7 AM and didn’t see anyone until 11:30 or so as we were heading toward the falls. Overall it took us 5.5 hours to complete. Definitely some challenging inclines, and tough creek crossings, but I enjoy both of those things.

Wed Sep 26 2018

Fun water crossings. No real views but nice forested hike.

hiking
Mon Apr 30 2018

Could not find the entrance to this trail??

hiking
Wed Apr 25 2018

Don't know what defines a great hike. This was fun for someone up for a challenge. A lot of water and considerable bushwacking. We hiked in from Skyline Drive east on the Hazel Mountain Trail. At the intersection with White Rocks Trail we turned northeast so we did the trail somewhat in reverse. Several trees down on the White Rocks Trail before the falls. At the falls spur, I would suggest you leave your packs at the top and take only what you need to the falls (it is a scramble.) Continuing on White Rocks after the falls, there is a great camping site to the left of the trail. Several trees down on this section of White Rocks Trail before you get to the intersection of the Hazel River Trail. Good camping spot at the intersection of the White River Trail and the Hazel River Trail before crossing the Hazel River although the dampness of the spot leads me to believe it gets a little swamped during heavy rains. Hazel River was at Spring levels so we had to ford the river. Hazel River Trail southwest seemed totally blocked. We continue east along the Hazel River. We found a couple of logs to cross over at one point but all others required fording. (Bring sneakers or watershoes to change out of hiking boots.) Intersected the Sam Ridge Trail heading southeast and then turning back to the southwest. Seemed like we were climbing all the way-constant uphill and switchbacks. Piles of fall leaves led me to believe Sam Ridge Trail is not hiked much. Sam Ridge Trail is measured at 2 miles. Both my senses and my fitbit tells me it is a lot longer. We camped on the mountain just .5 miles before the intersection of the Sam Ridge Trail with the Hazel Mountain Trail ( Not optimum but there are several nice flat spots to the right of the trail.) After we rejoined the Hazel Mountain Trail, we had to do a lot of bushwacking as there were big trees down between here and where the Hazel Mountain Trail intersects the Hazel River Trail. As we passed by the Hazel River Trail we looked northeast down the trail and all we could see were downed trees. We continued northwest on the Hazel Mountain Trail. Several downed trees across the trail that we had to climb over or scoot under. Forded the Hazel one more time. Completed the loop where Hazel Mountain Trail and White Rocks Trail once again meet then headed back to Skyline Drive.

Sat Apr 08 2017

The GPS didn't take us to the this trail. It took us just outside of the national park. I would advise to keep going toward the signs for Shenandoah and ask the rangers at the entrance. We ended up going to Whiteoak Canyon area. It was a really nice hike down hill along the creek with a lot of waterfalls. Going up was more challenging but not bad at all.

Sun Sep 18 2016

the entrance to this trail is not correct it doesn't exist anymore longer. The trail does hook up a bit further off of white Rock trail.

hiking
Sat Aug 11 2012

Nice hike with a good campsite off the trail before you go down to the falls/cave. Id advise setting up camp if your backpacking then going to see the falls.Its a really sharp incline getting there. My wife and I went down with 50 pound packs and had to come back out

hiking
17 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

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