Day 4: Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Our last hike of the day was the Dark Hollow Falls trail. We had already hiked the Compton Gap Trail and to the Summit of Mary’s Rock, and wanted to see something a bit different. This hike took us 1.4 miles roundtrip down the hill to Dark Hollow Falls, one of the most accessible waterfalls in the park. It is a moderate hike, with a 440 elevation gain on the 1.4 mile round trip. The trail goes along the stream, oddly named Hogcamp Branch (catchy name for a stream, right?), with a series of small cascades next to the trail.
The falls aren’t that high (about 70 feet), but they are pretty. I like the photos I captured of the falls in the late afternoon light. The sun was sinking lower in the sky, so we didn’t have too much time to dawdle in the woods on this hike. But considering that we hiked downhill on the way out – we had to go uphill on the way back!
Dark Hollow Falls was very close to our destination for the evening. We were staying at the Big Meadows Lodge, one of the historic lodges within the park! The Big Meadows Lodge was built in 1939, with stones hewn from nearby Massanutten Mountain, and native chestnut paneling – sadly this variety of chestnut tree is now nearly extinct. The lodge has traditional lodge rooms in addition to detached cabins on the property.
We got checked in and saw our room, which was a historic traditional lodge room with an outdoor entrance and a screen door so you could let in fresh air. The room was teeny and rustic, with no TV or Wifi service (the lodge common areas do have Wifi though), but it was neat to stay in a historic lodge. We knew it would be small, opting for the least expensive room, knowing that we wouldn’t be spending much time there! Our room was very hot because the previous occupants had left the heat turned up all the way!
We relaxed for a little while, then headed into the Spottswood Dining Room – the restaurant at the Lodge. I had the Spottswood Turkey – with dark and white meat, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, mixed vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower), and cranberry sauce, along a glass of the Chateau Morrisette Vidal Blanc. My meal and wine were delicious! Jon had the catfish with cajun sauce, and an IPA from a Williamsburg brewery (with a fancy name that we both promptly forgot – perhaps the Drake Tail from Alewerks Brewing Company?).
After dinner we sat in the main lodge for a little while and then headed back to our room. It took awhile to fall asleep because it was still so hot, but what a fantastic day in Shenandoah National Park!
Admission to Shenandoah National Park: $20.00 per vehicle for a 7 day pass – free with my National Parks Annual Pass.
Driving Distance for Day 4: 49.8 miles – Front Royal, VA – Big Meadows Lodge
Hotel for the night: Big Meadows Lodge – you are paying for the convenience of being in the park, and staying in a historic lodge. The accommodations were rustic. The meals were outstanding! The meals were not included in the price of our stay, but they did have packages that included breakfast (buying breakfast was a little cheaper for us).