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Piney Branch Trail



4.6 mile 7.4 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 20' 6 m
Descent: -1,620' -494 m
High: 3,070' 936 m
Low: 1,470' 448 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 21% (12°)


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Trail shared by Larry W. Brown

A gradually descending trail with multiple stream crossings and a few waterfalls.

Larry W. Brown

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

Family Friendly Though there is one steeper section, this trail passes various waterfalls, which make good destinations for younger hikers.

In the summer, stream crossings are typically done easily, unless the water levels are very high. In the winter, however, getting wet is a serious possibility and can lead to hypothermia.


To access this trail, park at the Piney River Parking Area. From the sign at the parking area, take the blue-blazed Piney Branch Trail south and east. The trail crosses the white-blazed AT in several hundred feet, continue straight, looking for the blue blazes.

This is not a hike to take if there has been considerable rainfall. That being said, this is a lovely trail through the woods with no distant views but following the Piney River. Along the trail, there are at least two small waterfalls and a number of pools and cascades to explore.

The trail gradually descends heading along the forested canyon floor and has been relocated to avoid a few stream crossings. There will be at least two crossings before reaching the junction with the Hull School Trail.

In a number of stretches, the trail can get fairly steep. Keep your eyes and ears open for waterfalls and cascades the lower you get. The trail occasionally overlaps an old road trace, following the Piney River past the park boundary to its end at Swindler Hollow Rd. Please respect private property and stay on the trail.

There are concrete marker posts with directions and distances at all trail junctions.

Thanks to Larry W. Brown, for sharing this trail 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, Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna


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Sep 7, 2019
Phil Manger
9.2mi — 4h 15m
Sep 1, 2019
Heidi Duncan
Sep 1, 2019
Brian H
Aug 30, 2019
Daniel Vincent
Very nice trail and the decent was gradual. Found a cool waterfall with a nice little pool about 30ft round and approx. 20ft deep. 4.6mi
May 27, 2017
Ozzie Arioc
Jul 23, 2016
Ondrea Hall
Jun 12, 2015
Patrick Johnson

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  3.8 from 4 votes
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in Virginia


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786 Since May 12, 2016



Piney River cascade during low water period.
Sep 9, 2019 near Washington, VA


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