Jones Run - Doyles River Loop

06/20/07

 

 

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Description: This is strictly a waterfall hike. The first set of 3 falls are along Jones Run. The top two are broad affairs cascading over large flat boulders. During periods of dry weather (as shown in these photos) they are reduced to trickles. Still the pools below them are quite refreshing. Beyond the falls the run cascades over and around moss-covered rocks as you hike along some massive rock formations and giant trees, some more than 3 feet in diameter. The Doyles River Tr picks up where the Jones Run Trail ends. As you climb, sometimes steeply - especially in the middle, you will enjoy many cascades and pools as well as the focal points: 28 and 63 feet waterfalls. (The shorter - upper - one is quickly joined by other cascades making it appear taller.) There are many pools along this section but, unfortunately, impenetrable thickets of Stinging Nettles prevent the hiker from visiting many of them during the season of greatest appeal - summer.

While you will lose and gain approximately 1200 feet of elevation along the first five miles the final leg of the trek is a relatively flat 3 mile lark on the AT. If you want to steal a quick vista pop up to Skyline Drive at the end of the Doyles River Tr and walk over to the Big Run Overlook. If you want to shorten the hike to about 6.5 miles you can take the Brown's Gap Fire road up to the AT. This will also save you about 600 feet in elevation gain while still allowing you to view all of the water works.

Google Custom Directions

Special Note: Google Maps and other on-line mapping programs might suggest you use old fire roads that are no longer accessible by automobile. Use a real map to confirm your route. This trailhead is just south of Mile Post 84 on Skyline Drive.

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Trail Notes: From the kiosk proceed down the blue blazed Jones Run Tr. Soon cross the AT. You will be returning on it from your left. Descend along a wide trail with several erosion dams. These are frequent enough to prevent you from establishing a good stride but it improves shortly. In 0.21 miles you'll pass an un-signed and unblazed trail to the left. This leads up to the Dundo Group Campsite on Skyline Drive. You'll cross it again near the end of the hike. After a sharp switchback you'll the trail becomes what looks to be an old jeep road. In 1.35 miles from the "Dundo Short-cut" the falls viewing begins. At first you'll see the upper falls from the top. The trail will then switchback through the ravine allowing you to visit the tops and bottoms of the 3 main falls. The trail will eventually cross the stream and in 0.91 miles from the top of the upper falls you'll arrive at the blue blazed Doyles River Trail. Follow it.

The Doyles River Trail starts off gradually but increases significantly in pitch as you near the primary focus of the trip. In 0.5 miles from the last trail junction cross a tributary on a bridge. There is a small falls here when the water is flowing well. In another 0.33 miles arrive at the lower falls. From there it is a steep 0.38 mile climb to the upper falls. This one has a small side trail cut through the Nettles to allow you to get to the base.

For the next 0.39 miles the grade lessens and the trail becomes more of a wide road than a trail with a nice surface for walking on. Just before reaching the Brown's Gap Road you'll cross the stream. From here there are no more water works to enjoy. If you want to take the easier 6.5 mile route turn left onto the road and follow it to the AT. Make a left there and in 1.36 miles arrive back at your car.

To complete the entire loop cross the road and continue to climb. You know you're getting close to the top when the trail begins to switchback. In 0.59 miles arrive at a trail junction. Left takes you to the Doyles River Cabin (Rentable from the PATC). Turn left here and climb to the intersection with the AT in another 0.37 miles. To take in a vista continue to Skyline Drive and walk down and over to the Big Run Overlook. To continue with the hike turn left - right if you went to the vista - (South) onto the AT at this point.

The rest of the trek is pretty flat from here on out with only minor hills. In 1.07 miles cross Skyline Drive. You'll pass through the Doyles River Overlook along the way with views of the drainage. In another 0.43 miles pass the southern terminus of the Big Run Loop Tr on the right. In another 0.50 miles find yourself at the Brown's Gap Parking Area. Walk through it to the drive. The AT continues on the other side a few yards to the south.

In 0,71 miles pass a spur trail on the right that leads to the Dundo Group Campsite and in another 0.14 miles cross through the intersection with the "Dundo Short-cut" mentioned earlier. There is a blank sign post here. In another 0.51 miles turn right onto the Jones Run Tr and arrive back at your car.

Critique This Outing

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Name: Barbara S.                                                                                                       Hike: Jones R-Doyle's R
Date: 3/19/12                                                                                                            Rating: 4

Critique: Blooming: blood root, Dutchmens Breeches.

 

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Name: Scott_R                                                                                                           Hike: Jones Run - Doyles River Loop
Date: 10-25-11                                                                                                          Rating: 4

Critique: This was my second trip to this loop; it is definitely a 'waterfall' hike.  There are not really any vistas or other views included, but for moderate - in time, climb and length - hike, it's ideal.  It was an ideal 'date' hike!

My first trip, I did the 'short' loop returning on the fire trail; there may be better views I missed by skipping the two mile stretch along the Skyline Drive, but based on what I saw between Browns Gap and the Jones Run parking lot, I'm doubtful.

My second trip (about which I report here), I came in by way of Browns Gap Tnpk (the fire road) from below the park, and did this as a sort of out-and-back.  The road is quite well maintained inside the park, but not at all between the last farm field gate and the park boundary; it is passable only on foot for about a mile and half before the boundary.  While the park service does have signage up, they don't even bother with a gate.  We parked to one side (just in case someone came by and wanted to get past) and walked up.

We diverted off the road after the first swale we came to inside the park, and dropped down to where the Doyles and the Jones meet, and then picked up the trail back up to the road, giving us a chance to see the two waterfalls on the Doyles.  We then came back down the fire road.  This was an approximately 5 mile circuit and took about three hours - well worth it.

The second visit was mid-week and we saw nobody at all; my first visit was rather crowded.  There are a number of great swimming holes on the Doyles River and I'll go back for a dip in the summer, but mid-week.  A great short hike!

 

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Name: Keith Robertson                                                                                             Hike: Jones Run- Doyles River (short) Loop
Date: 4-18-10                                                                                                             Rating: 5

Critique: My wife, a friend of ours, and I recently did the short version of this loop (taking the fire road back to Browns Gap.) We went during National Park Week (meaning free admission,) but despite that we still had the trail almost entirely to ourselves- I think we saw maybe 3 or 4 other hikers in 4 hours.

This is probably the best trail that I've taken in Shenandoah so far. The views and terrain are nicely varied (ridgeline at the top, and nicely sheltered streams at the bottom.) The fact that the ridgelines were still winter-like in appearance, with very few leaves, and the area in the valley was lush and green, added to this effect.

Aside from the named falls on the trail, there are many smaller cascades and ripples, so for the majority of the time one spends near the rivers, there is whitewater in view or within earshot. The main fall on Jones Run is a good place to stop- it's very scenic, and there are a number of large flat boulders right near the falls that you can rest on.

Aside from the scenery, the other highlight of our particular hike was sighting the first black bear that any of us had seen in the wild. It was a mid-sized bear, about the size of a very large dog. I heard it first when it moved (twig crack,) and then spotted it about 100ft away in some underbrush. I had enough time to point and say "there's a bear," before it looked up at me for a few moments, and then ran off into the brush.

 

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Name: Galen                                                                                                                Hike: Doyles River
Date: 11-10-07                                                                                                           Rating: 3

Critique: Did this one not as a loop, but as an out and back on the Doyles River trail. Not especially long or strenuous but it was meant for an outing with some hiking newbies that turned out pretty good. The original hike was supposed to be down to South River Falls but the Central district was closed due to ice and snow. In November. Weird. Anyhoo, this turned out to be a great plan B. Even with the rain deficit, the waterfalls were still chugging along with some impressive rock formations that you can climb all over. Makes for good lunch spots. Well marked trail with some loose rocks. Foliage was nice even though it was past peak. It's a hefty elevation change so we got a good workout on the way back. I'll bet this would be a nice hike year-round but best in the Spring when the streams are full.

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Name: Natasha                                                                                                           Hike: Doyles River-Jones Run
Date: Few times a year                                                                                             Rating: 4

Critique: I have done this hike countless times and it is often the hike I do when I want a hard, quick workout, easily completed in a little over 2 hours at a fast pace with little waterfall gazing.  I start at Browns Gap Parking lot and descend down the fire road, which meets up with Doyles Run Trail. I continue on down Doyles Run and meet up with the Jones Run trail, at which time the climbing part of the hike begins.  It is a hard climb back out of the valley, but I like doing this hike backwards because the reward is a nice cool down return along the AT back down to the Browns Gap parking area (a little over a mile).  For a bit more distance, one can hike from the parking lot up along the AT and connect to the Doyles River Trail north of the fire road, then continue on down the trail for the rest of the hike.  Great hike to do during the spring when the water is high, but kind of boring when there hasn't been much rain or snow.

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