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Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,050.00 ft (320.04 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
8.50 mi (13.68 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

With 93 feet of vertical drop, Overall Run Falls is Shenandoah National Park’s highest falls. This hike takes you to the best overlook of Overall Run Falls. The overlook is fabulous. It provides views from the high cliff down into the falls and off to the west across the South Fork of the Shenandoah River Valley.

This route starts at Thompson Hollow Trailhead. It offers two options: a 6-mile out-and-back hike or an 8.5-mile loop. Starting outside the park from the bottom of the Overall Run helps to avoid the crowds; most people start from the top at Shenandoah National Park's Mathews Arm Campground. It is best to hike after a rainy period, since Overall Run doesn’t drain a large area and can often have low water. The trail passes through a mixed coniferous and pine forest and spends a lot of time paralleling Overall Run. The trail tread can be rocky and rough. It is initially a gradual climb, but the last mile or so up to the viewpoint gets steep as the trail switchbacks up the western flank of the long ridge that forms the backbone of Shenandoah.

The trailhead and parking lot (38.801818, -78.314775) are at the end of the state-maintained State Route 630, where the pavement ends. There is parking for about 10 cars. Do NOT block the road or proceed up the private dirt road with your vehicle. There is no parking or turnaround.

Walk up the private dirt road and go past a chain gate across the road. In 100 yards or so, the blue-blazed trail will take off to the right. Follow it. You will soon enter Shenandoah National Park. For the next half-mile, gradually climb the slight hill to the top, where you will continue straight past the Tuscarora Trail on the right. In another 0.2 mile, you will intercept the Overall Run Trail. Turn left and start the 2-mile climb to the overlook.

There are two easy river crossings as you follow Overall Run. After the second, the trail pulls away from Overall Run and starts its steep ascent. As you approach the overlook, there will be several backcountry campsites and a Shenandoah National Park sign restricting any camping closer to the falls and overlook.

The overlook is stunning. Carefully approach the edge to get the view into the narrow gorge with the falls tumbling off the top. Look west to see back to where you started a thousand feet below. Massanutten Mountain is the first significant ridge to the west and offers numerous hiking opportunities and camping at Camp Roosevelt. Fall danger is real and would be fatal, so pay attention and watch your kids.

Now you have a choice: Return the way you came or continue up the trail to loop back along Beecher Ridge. If continuing, in another 0.3 mile you need to turn right onto the yellow-blazed Mathews Arm Trail. After another half-mile, turn right again onto the yellow-blazed Beecher Ridge Trail. Beecher Ridge has a large native population of black bears, so keep your eyes open in case you are lucky to see a bear. Standard black bear precautions are required. Follow Beecher Ridge Trail as it gradually descends for 2.3 miles to the intersection of the blue-blazed Beecher Ridge/Overall Run Connector Trail. Go straight and follow it for 0.6 mile down to Overall Run. Cross Overall Run, and in about 100 yards the trail turns into the Overall Run Trail. Turn right, upstream, and follow Overall Run Trail. In about a half-mile, you will be back to the intersection of Thompson Hollow Trail. Turn left to return to your car.

The best maps of the area are the Potomac Appalachian Trail Conference (PATC), Shenandoah National Park, North Section, Map 9 or Shenandoah National Park (Trails Illustrated National Geographic Map #228). The closet public campground to the trailhead for this hike is in Shenandoah River State Park.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Fall
Spring

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Stunning clifftop overlook. Shenandoah's highest falls.

Cons

Can be crowded. Best after a good rain.

Trailhead Elevation

955.00 ft (291.08 m)

Highest point

1,940.00 ft (591.31 m)

Net Elevation Gain

995.00 ft (303.28 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Wildlife
Big vistas

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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