Explore the most popular forest trails near Grottoes with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

We parked at the Horsehead Rd. trailhead (we were the only car there on a beautiful Thursday morning) and began our hike, heading clockwise around the loop. Thanks to well-placed rocks, we easily crossed two raging streams. The climb up Trayfoot isn't steep, but it is long. Eventually we reached the summit, but foliage obscured all views. After a steep descent, we found the Blackrock spurr trail. Ten minutes later we were on Blacktop, where we encountered our first people of the day. After enjoying the spectacular views and a nice lunch, we used a paper map, GPS, and trail markers to find our way across Skyline Drive and the Payne Run trailhead. The walk down Payne Run is easy but a bit wet in spots. We crossed several streams during the last mile, and returned to our vehicle. This hike isn't strenuous, but it is long. Decent navigation skills are essential. Our GPS recorded this hike as being 10.5 miles. Our hiking time was 5 hours.

Had to turn around to let mama bear and cubs feel safe but it was a great trail otherwise.

Great hike and lots of swimming options, especially for us since we chose a weekend of torrential downpours. This made fording the rivers a bit of an adventure. Started at Turk Gap and, on the recommendation of a buddy, hit the trail counter clockwise. It was mostly down hill or level for the first 12 miles or so. We started climbing right when we were looking for a spot to camp for the night. Unfortunately, the northern portion of the loop is bordered by private property on either side (as noted by signs and barbed wire) and lacks much level terrain. We ended up hitting the AT and heading north another .8 miles up and then down to black rock spring where there was a shelter and ample camp sites. May have been due to the several days of rain, but the camp site was pretty packed w/ thru hikers. Finished the second day heading back south down the AT, where we experienced some moderate climbs intermixed with gradual climbs. Only regret is that we didn’t go on a warmer day when the mandatory swimming (ie river fords) would have been recreational, vice a challenge to surmount. Hike would be much more scenic during spring or fall. Clicked 21.4 miles over the two days. Over all a great hike!

Fun hike with two waterfalls. We ran into a mama bear with cubs which was a little startling but made that hike that much more memorable and fun.

Great hike, if it is the rainy season be warned there is a stream you will have to cross

Beautiful falls. Went when the water was very high, and the rain was still coming while we hiked. Started at Jones Run Trailhead, which seems like it would be the easier route.

camping
1 month ago

Great day hike. Fun river crossing. Not too heavy on the elevation change.

I started from Grottoes and hiked up to Skyline. This was such a lovely trail along a ridgeline! At this time of year (when leaves haven’t fully come in), you can see views on both sides. Trayfoot Summit doesn’t stand out especially, but the trail was great, and Black Rock Summit is beautiful. The first several miles were 90% of the elevation gain. To leave from Grottoes, AllTrails will lead you to the end of a neighborhood cul de sac, and the fire road leaving from it has no obvious marking. If you continue down the road, you should see a sign for the trail within a few tenths of a mile. I made the mistake of not downloading the trail map and thinking I could follow instructions in the comments for the trail. When I arrived at the parking lot for Black Rock Summit, I saw no stone wall, and when I turned right on Skyline Drive, I meandered for a half mile without finding a fire road. I ended up doubling back on my previous path, which was still a nice hike, but I missed the loop. I saw a large adult black bear, chipmunks, salamanders, squirrels, and song birds.

Hiked it this weekend. Great river fordes!

Didn’t expect the Moormans river section to be partially two-tracked, but it was still a beautiful trail with plenty to see!

hiking
2 months ago

Loved this hike. Super easy straight shot on Port Republic from Harrisonburg. I went to the top of Furnace and then headed back. Took an hour to get to the top, and a little less to get down. Dog love it.

Lovely. After winds there are a lot of leaves on the trail. A few good look out spots. Rocky but runable. Creeks with fun Rock crossings. Well maintained.

hiking
4 months ago

This was a terrific hike. If you start in Shenandoah Valley and go clockwise, you climb the tough hills first. While you're climbing, there are some long level spots where you can look down on both the Valley and Skyline Drive. After you complete the tough summits, you arrive at Blackrock Summit, where you have a magnificent view of Trayfoot Mountain, the mountain you just climbed. The remaining portion is smooth--a section of the AT and a gradual descent on a fire road.

The previous commenters are right--after the AT hits Skyline Drive, stay to your right on Skyline Drive along the stone wall, then go straight through the small parking lot, and you'll see the right fire road to take home.

Dog friendly.

Really fun hike, we did hike #2, which is a nearly 8 mile loop. Beware, this should be ranked as "hard", if you start down the AT then come back up river trail, youre in for about 3.5 miles of steep-moderate constant uphill. not complaining, was a heck of a workout, 200 floors per our fitbits. waterfalls were beautiful, half frozen.

I went clockwise on this loop and loved it. I will definitely do it again. When the trail comes to the Skyline Drive But sure to keep walking to the parking lot (and counterclockwise to the end of the stone wall) otherwise it is very hard to know where the trail is if you are following the AllTrails map. It is not accurate in that section . Otherwise it was a great hike!

Enjoyed this hike with my daughter- would highly recommend. Be prepared for the trip back up from the falls.

I'm from the panhandle of Texas and am used to hiking on fairly flat ground. The rocky, steep portions of this trail almost did me in! Hiked in the reverse direction from that recommended. BIG mistake. The steep incline the last two miles was difficult to say the least. However, I'll be back and hike this beautiful trail again when I'm in better shape.

Great trail! We started at the Jones Run parking lot (mile marker 84) and hiked down Jones Run to the Doyles River trail and took that up to the fire road for a shortcut to the AT and back to the parking area due to time constraints.

This trail is underrated. It was an awesome hike! Nor would I say that it was easy, but it was really worth it.
Mile marker 90 on the south end of Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Rip-rap parking lot. You find the board that describes the trail and go north/right on the Appalachian Trail, just about a half a mile. Then take a left at the cement post for Riprap trail. A little rugged, always bring water and good hiking boots makes it better. But the trail just gets better and better as you go. After about two miles, having passed Calvary and Chimney Rocks, you come to it what looks like a Canyon, huge rock formations!
If you like trees, the smell of the forest, rock formation, awesome views - this is a well worth hike. I took my time with brakes and a snack; it took me 3 hours round trip back to the parking lot. And I ain't no youngster.

It was long trail but good.

Great fall hike for the wife and I. Nice beams of sunlight peaking through this morning. Came down the mountain a lot quicker than expected.

Park at mm 81- Do falls loop first and the leg with the scenic overlook last... Your legs will thank you!

Short trail but pretty good.

It was a good hike. I hiked the trail by following the suggested direction, i..e., hiking down to Doyles River trail, back to Jones Run trail, then the AT and back to the Doyles River trailhead. The waterfalls were dry. I saw a baby bear was up on a tree looking down on people. I did not see any tree leaves turned red, instead they were yellow and brown.

Did this trail in 2015. More forested that I would like but there are some good views. about .4 mi into the tail we heard an animal nose coming from below the trail. We couldn't figure out what it was, low rumble growl. I don't know 100% but listening to animal sounds, it matches to a mountain lion. Freaked us out, but we still did the trail. Did not see any animal.

Did this whole route. Followed the NPS recommendation and started at the Turk Gap parking lot. Did part of the AT then turned onto the North Fork Moorman's trail. Spent the night after 10 miles. I was visited by 2 black bears while filtering my water. As soon as I stood up they took off like lightning, not to be heard of again. Make sure to bring a bear bag and hang your food. After talking to the ranger on my way out he said there are about 400 hundred bears in the park. Not aggressive, but still hang your food.

Hiked 8 more miles to finish back to the Turk Gap parking The last 2.5 miles coming back on the Turk Gap Branch Trail was about 1000 feet of elevation gain in that short trek. Was definitely doable but challenging.

The leaves were changing colors and the river was really low. It was a beautiful hike.

Great hike down to Doyle's falls and back up again. The trail was well marked and maintained.

hiking
8 months ago

We did this as part of a loop circuit starting at the Blackrock Summit parking area, down the AT, left around the ridge through the rock slides and down to Browns Gap fire road. From there after the creek crossing the Furnace Mtn. Trail is a long 1100' mile and a half constant uphill to a left turn that takes you another 200' elevation gain in a half mile to a tight overlook at the top of Furnace Mountain. The spot fills up at lunchtime on the weekends as it is a good picnic destination with a great 120 degree view [trees on both sides]. While we enjoyed this part of the hike, the Blackrock Summit was much more spectacular and gives you much more bang for your effort. Still, it's less crowded than Blackrock and gives you a great workout.

View is decent but there are better trails. Not sure if I would do again.

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