|Lewis Falls- a photo from my first hike in Shenandoah|
2 miles round trip, 790 feet elevation gain
Access: Trailhead off Skyline Drive (paved road), Shenandoah National Park entrance fee required
On a very muggy August day in 2003, I hiked from the Big Meadows Campground down to Lewis Falls and back via the 3.3-mile loop: it was the first trail I ever hiked in Shenandoah National Park. It was almost 10 years until I came back, this time on a shorter out-and-back route.
Lewis Falls is one of the park's tallest waterfalls, but in my opinion is one of its least pretty. This is partly because there are few good viewpoints of the falls; more precisely, there's one viewpoint of the falls and it's getting a bit overgrown. This also partly because there's rarely a good flow here; the falls are a little too high up on the mountain and drainage basins tend to be smaller on the western side of the Blue Ridge, anyway. However, it's still worth the hike, especially if you've been to many of the park's other waterfalls. The trail is all downhill on the way in, so if you're not accustomed to hiking, you might want to make sure you can return before you go down. I remember finding the hike up quite tiring when I was in middle school.
Manjima and I did this hike together on our way to Charlottesville in May. We entered the park from US 211 at Thornton Gap and took Skyline Drive south to Big Meadows. We parked in a small parking lot with four spots to the right of Skyline Drive just pass the turnoff for the gas station at Big Meadows. We backtracked slightly by foot along Skyline Drive to the fire road and trailhead for our hike.
The beginning of the hike was a descent down the fire road for a quarter of a mile to a junction with the Appalachian Trail. We went straight at the junction. Soon, the wide fire road narrowed into a trail, which kept descending through the very pretty and bright green spring Shenandoah forest.
|Spring on the trail|
|View towards Massanutten Mountain and Devil's Tanyard|
We returned the way we came, uphill.