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South River Falls Trail



1.6 mile 2.6 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 73' 22 m
Descent: -837' -255 m
High: 2,948' 899 m
Low: 2,114' 644 m


Avg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)


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Trail shared by Larry W. Brown

A steep trail leading to an overlook of South River Falls.

Larry W. Brown

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Though steep, the shortness of this trail makes it great for kids, especially as they'll be able to see a waterfall at the end.


This trail heads past the drinking fountain at the South River picnic area. The trail begins by descending across the white-blazed Appalachian Trail (AT) and continues downhill along a straight, drawn-out stretch. The trail bends to the left, drops along several switchbacks, and then straightens out as the South River merges from the right (south).

Head across the tributary stream, which can be hard to spot in places, but can be heard fairly clearly. After around a third of a mile, the trail will cross another stream. Here, the edge of the falls should start to come into view as the trees thin out, revealing views of the park beyond.

Follow the trail for another hundred yards or so, and you'll arrive at a path on the right. This path dives very steeply toward the head of the falls and provides a number of slipping hazards to avoid. Stay straight on the South River Falls Trail as it leads to an observation point down on the right, toward the falls. Look for the ledge surrounded by a constructed guard wall.

From here, you'll find the best views of the falls, out toward the gorge, and the northeast ridge of Saddleback Mountain beyond. The trail continues down where it ends at the South River Falls Road.

Thanks to Larry W. Brown, for sharing this description. If you’re interested in learning more details about great hikes, weather, camping / lodging, wildlife, and scenic drives, check out the comprehensive Guide to Shenandoah National Park.

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ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Flora & Fauna


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Oct 27, 2019
Sarahsaurus Frex
Sep 17, 2019
A Catalano
Jun 27, 2019
Melanie Wieland
3.3mi — 2h 15m
Nov 21, 2018
Jack Cunningham
Nov 10, 2018
Donovan Fitzgerald
Steep trail down to an overlook. You must continue down the road to access the base of the falls. Worth it!
Oct 12, 2018
Cheryl Ladota
Jun 26, 2018
Joy Granados
Hike to the first falls of South river falls. About 900 ft 3mi — 3h 00m
May 24, 2018
Tessa Vande Velden
With steph

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Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 4 votes


  4.3 from 4 votes
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in Virginia


14 Views Last Month
510 Since Apr 19, 2016



View from the base of South River Falls.
May 12, 2016 near Elkton, VA
South river cascades.
Apr 15, 2016 near Elkton, VA
The scenic South River.
Apr 15, 2016 near Elkton, VA


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