Hazel River Falls

  • Highlights: Waterfall, cave, Shenandoah National Park
  • Distance: 5.6 miles out and back
  • Elevation change: 1,050 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate/Strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: Meadow Spring Parking Area, Skyline Drive mile 33.5
  • Website: Shenandoah National Park
  • Beer Pairings: Reason Beer—Perpetual Bloom IPA & Reasonable session IPA

The Hike:

This hike is a Shenandoah undiscovered gem. Most people go for the more well-known waterfall hikes in SNP leaving Hazel River Falls for those of us who want to experience a great hike without the crowds. The trail is well marked. For most of the hike, the ascent and decent are fairly gradual. The last .2 miles are very steep.

The hike begins at the southern end of the parking area by the cement post proclaiming “Hazel Mountain Rd.”. The Buck Hollow Trail immediately begins to the left, stay straight on the yellow-blazed Hazel Mountain Trail. Yellow blazes indicate a multi-use trail so hikers and horses may use the trail. The trail descends gradually over the next 2.5 miles. A junction with the Buck Ridge Trail will appear at .4 miles, stay straight on the yellow-blazed trail. There are several small stream crossings. Unless there have been heavy rains, you should be able to cross without getting your feet wet.

At 1.6 miles take a left at the junction on the yellow-blazed White Rocks Trail. This area was impacted by several large forest fires in 1986, 1998, and 2000. The forest is recovering from the fires. Part of this trail borders a large section of mountain laurel flourish due to the fires. In May and June when the laurel are in bloom this is an impressive sight. 

At 2.4 miles a cement post marks the junction with the blue-blazed Cave and Falls Trail. This is the steepest section of the hike. Stone and man-made steps guide you down the steep section of the trail to the Hazel River. After the steep descent, where you reach the river, turn right and continue to follow the blue blazes. Hazel River Falls will appear on your left and the cave on your right. Enjoy your surroundings and explore the falls and cave. You will likely have the area to yourself.

To return to the parking area, retrace your steps on the blue-blazed trail along the Hazel River to the steep ascent on your left. Climb back up to the cement post on the blue-blazed trail. Turn left at the cement post and follow the yellow-blazed White Rocks Trail. Turn right at the junction with the yellow-blazed Hazel Mountain Trail and return to the parking area and your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

Reason Beer of Charlottesville has been making really good beer since 2017. They tend to focus on IPAs so we knew we had to stop by after a hike in Shenandoah. Perpetual Bloom is an American style IPA and is generously hopped with “restrained bitterness”. We just like it. Session IPAs sometimes seem like they have less flavor and less alcohol. We really liked Reasonable session IPA. Session beers are lower in alcohol (and calories) and Reasonable has 4% alcohol, yet still has the aroma, citrus notes, and hoppy taste of a regular IPA. Did we mention it has fewer calories? 

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.