Dry Run Falls

Adam found this hike mentioned in a book called Waterfalls of Virginia and West Virginia.  Since we’ve had so much rain lately, we decided to take the short three mile hike to see the falls.

Dry Run is pretty after substantial rain
Dry Run is pretty after substantial rain

Christine Says…

We parked our car at the South River Overlook and made our way down the Dry Run Falls Fire Road.   The road was wet and sloppy, but still beautiful because it was lined with countless wildflowers: trillium, wild geranium, violets, hepatica, ragwort and many more I couldn’t identify.


The road follows a gentle downhill grade and eventually passes Lost Cliffs, an impressive rock face rising straight up from the forest floor.  A little over a mile into the hike, you start to hear the sounds of water gurgling downhill, getting louder and stronger as more run-off joins the flow.

Dry Run falls are visible from the trail, and would actually be quite pretty if there weren’t several large fallen trees obscuring the view.   To get close to the stream, you have to do a little bit of bushwhacking down the ravine.  There are a few places along the stream that are photogenic and worth the effort to climb down.

On the hike, we all found multiple ticks crawling on us.  After all was said and done, I think we ended up picking sixteen ticks off our clothing and skin.   I skipped using bug spray on this hike because our dog was hiking with us, and DEET is so toxic to them.  This was by far the most ticks I’ve ever found on myself after a hike.

We brought the dog along.
We brought the dog along.

All in all, Dry Run was a pleasant walk, but not something I would consider a “must-do” hike.  There isn’t really anything noteworthy to see along the way and the falls weren’t anything special.

Adam Says…

I was a little unimpressed by this hike.  It was something new for us, since we have done most of the Central and South SNP hikes, but it was good to get out to stretch the legs.  The fire road leads to an easy walk through the woods.  We saw a few bear  droppings through the hike, so be careful and make some noise along the trail.  Dry Run can be viewed from the trail, but you need to do some bushwhacking to get to the water for any photo opportunities.  The water was rushing hard today, but we’ve had a couple of weeks of heavy rain.  I’m not sure how heavy this is during a dry season.  The water does have several areas of falls and tumbling water if you continue on the trail.  You can also approach this hike without entering through the main gate by way of Elkton, but we wanted to do the normal hike.

Lost Cliffs
Lost Cliffs – Can you spot Adam in the shot?

A neat side-trip was to climb up Lost Cliffs.  At the end of  the large formation on your right, you will see signs of a short trail that leads you up to the rocks above.  Be careful, since most of the rocks are covered with moss and that first step is a lulu.

wookieWookie Says…

Wookie really enjoyed walking on the fire road.  It was definitely an easy and suitable trail for dogs.  There was lots of mud and standing water on the trail, so he was filthy and needed a bath when he got home.  He also came home with lots ticks crawling on him — one had already attached to his ear.

Trail Notes

  • Distance – 3.2 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Change – insignificant  – maybe a couple hundred feet.
  • Difficulty – 1.  The trail follows a fire road and has very gentle climbs and descents.
  • Trail Conditions – 5.   The trail is well maintained.
  • Views – 0.  No views.
  • Waterfalls/streams – 2.  The falls and stream are pretty, but nothing special.
  • Wildlife – 2.  We heard a turkey and saw several kinds of salamanders.  There were also signs of bear and deer around.
  • Ease to Navigate – 5.   It would be nearly impossible to get lost.
  • Solitude – 4.  Fire roads are used infrequently in the park.  We saw only one other person – a local guy collecting mushrooms.

Directions to trailhead:

Follow Skyline Drive to mile 62.7.  Park at the South River Overlook.  Cross the drive and pick up the trail on the west side of the road.

15 thoughts on “Dry Run Falls

  1. David

    I use to go to the falls in my younger years. If you go further down stream there was a good size pool you could get in but it’s cold! A little farther there is a 20 foot fall. The more rain the better. We use to camp on a flat spot on the top of lost cliff, there was a spot for two three man tents. Sitting out on the cliff at night overlooking Elkton was a site to see!


  2. Terry

    Thanks – heading to SNP for a long Labor Day weekend and trying to find some of the few hikes there that I haven’t taken already. Will skip it if there hasn’t been any rain, though. Recently did the Overall Run falls for the first time, since every other time I was there it was pretty dry. On a warm June day the swimming holes further down the canyon were wonderful (do those on a loop with one of the other return trails rather than climbing up the canyon).



    • virginiatrailschristine

      Possibly… I don’t think this area has any special backcountry restrictions, so you should be able to set up camp. If you like the looks of this area, I’d also recommend Rose River, Big Run or Jeremy’s Run. Those are all beautiful areas and have established primitive sites.


  3. Nicole

    Hi Christine! This is a terrific blog! I really like the layout, the photos (of course) and how you, Adam and even Wookie share your thoughts on a particular location. Very cool!


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