I recently hiked the Doyles River Loop via Appalachian Trail and it’s a beautiful hiking trail in Shenandoah National Park. This 7.5-mile trail takes you through lush forests, alongside babbling streams, and past cascading waterfalls. It’s a must-see for nature lovers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
The trailhead is located off Skyline Drive, at milepost 81.1. The parking lot can fill up quickly during peak season, so it’s best to arrive early. And I got there just in time with only two spots left to park. The trail is rated as moderate in difficulty and I would agree with that as there are a few steep sections that require some scrambling. However, the amazingness you will see along the way is well worth the effort.
One of the main attractions of the Doyles River Loop is the series of three cascading waterfalls known as Doyles River Falls. As you hike along the trail, you’ll hear the sound of rushing water in the distance. There’s a stunning overlook where you can see the falls in all their glory. The water cascades down in a series of drops, each one more beautiful than the last. You can even swim in the pools at the base of the falls if you’re feeling adventurous.
Another highlight of the trail is Jones Run Falls. This waterfall is a single drop of over 40 feet and is equally as impressive as Doyles River Falls. You can feel the mist from the waterfall on your face as you stand at the base and take in the natural beauty surrounding you.
While I didn’t see any wildlife, the park is home to black bears, deer, and various bird species. You might even see a salamander or two if you’re lucky.
Before embarking on any hike, it’s important to be aware of safety considerations. Weather can change quickly in the mountains, so it’s essential to check the forecast before heading out. Additionally, be aware of any hazards along the trail, such as steep drop-offs or slippery rocks.
Also, have extra shoes and socks handy either in your car or in your pack back – there are a few spots where you cross the water and you are not doing it without getting your feed wet. I will more than likely invest in some hiking poles as they would have helped me on that day.
The Doyles River Loop offers different experiences depending on the time of year. Spring brings blooming wildflowers and rushing waterfalls, while summer offers lush foliage and warmer temperatures.
Hiking the entire Doyles River Loop took me about 4 hours but it may be a little longer in time if you have a slower pace than I do.
The Doyles River Loop via Appalachian Trail is a great experience that offers stunning views, breathtaking waterfalls, and a true wilderness experience.
So what are you waiting for?
Pack your hiking boots, bring plenty of water and snacks, and hit the trail. The Doyles River Loop is waiting for you!
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