|Jones Run Falls|
6.6 miles loop, 1430 feet elevation gain
The Doyles River is a wild and beautiful stream that plunges down the side of Big Flat Mountain in the South District. The loop combining a hike along the Doyles River with the Jones Run Trail is easily one of the most spectacular waterfall hikes of the park.
I headed into the South District from Rockfish Gap on a warm late January Saturday with three friends. The drive on I-64 west was particularly notable that day due to the early morning sunlight on Bucks Elbow, Calf, and Bear Den Mountains. Views of the Valley from along the Drive were equally spectacular, so we stopped at numerous overlooks on our way to the trailhead.
|View south from Turk Mountain Overlook to Humpback Mountain, Devil's Knob, and the Priest.|
The trailhead for this loop is at Browns Gap, a low point on the ridge between Blackrock and Rockytop ridge at mile 83 of Skyline Drive. It's about equidistant to Rockfish and Swift Run Gaps. The trailhead is well signed and parking is fairly plentiful.
From Browns Gap, we followed the fire road to the east of the drive downhill for 1.9 miles. The middle of the fire road was littered with needle ice, which had probably grown the previous night. We eventually reached an intersection with the Doyles River Trail, which we followed further downhill. The trail followed the stream, which makes many small falls as it heads downhill. We soon reached Upper Doyles Falls, a very pretty waterfall with two drops. The two drops of the falls are probably each about 10-15 feet high, so there was a very personal feel to this waterfall.Continuing on, the trail reached the Lower Doyles Falls, a larger drop surrounded by a spectacular rocky gorge. The base of this waterfall was a little less accessible than the base of the higher falls. We clambered over some rocky parts to reach its wet and mossy base. I am sure this would be an amazing spot to visit in the spring, when water levels are high- the Lower Doyles Falls cascaded over only a small portion of a large rock face and I am sure that the entire rock would be covered with water during the spring.
|Lower Doyles River Falls|
The trail descended fairly steeply as the river made numerous small plunges and passed through a few pools, until both the trail and stream flattened out near the confluence of the Doyles River and Jones Run.
|Jones Run Falls|