I was eager to hike the Fox Hollow Trail, but winter is tricky for hiking at Shenandoah National Park. You never know when Skyline Drive will close due to ice and snow.
The weather may be fine in Northern Virginia, but it’s a mess for Shenandoah Valley hikes. Skyline Drive may be closed entirely or in sections. Frustrating.
Obviously, safety is important to me. I trust the powers that be who make the decisions. Still, when a small section was recently open, I made a beeline for the park.
Just the first five miles of Skyline Drive were open, so I hiked the 3.4-mile Snead Farm Trail (loop), as well as the Fox Hollow Trail, which is 1.2-miles (also a loop).
Both were very easy, but also quiet and relaxing. There was no one else on either hiking trail. It was the perfect way to spend the morning in nature.
|Elevation Gain||217 feet|
|Terrain||Mostly rock & dirt trails|
|Fee||$30 per vehicle (good for seven days)|
|Driving Directions||Click Here|
Park in the sizeable parking lot to the left of the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. You’ll park in front of restrooms that are open in winter even when the visitor center is closed.
The hike begins directly across Skyline Drive from Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. You’ll see a large trail kiosk at the trailhead with a map for the Fox Hollow Trail.
Before or after this hike, make a stop for sweeping views at the overlook just behind the visitor center. In spring, this scenic overlook is popular with plein air painters.
Fox Hollow Trail
From the trail kiosk, you’ll see hiking trail go downhill to the left, as well as downhill to the right. It’s not entirely clear which way to go.
Honestly though, if you look closely at the Fox Hollow TRACK Trail sign, you are directed to stay to the left. Naturally, I opted to go to the right.
It’s a loop. It shouldn’t matter which way to go, but then I reached the first trail marker that read “Start Fox Hollow Trail Circuit This Way,” pointing to the left. Oof.
So I crossed over to enter the proper side of the loop, which begins on the blue-blazed Dickey Ridge Trail. Now I was on my way. Woo-hoo.
It’s a nice forested hike. Very relaxing. This hike is very, very popular in warm-weather months, but on this day, it was just me, my thoughts and the trail.
At the .3-mile, you’ll reach a concrete trail marker. Stay to the right here to connect with the Fox Hollow Trail. You’ll begin to see piles of stones on both sides of the trail.
The Fox family cleared away these stones and deposited them here in order to farm the land. The Fox family was one of many on the land before the park was established in 1935.
You will soon reach the Fox family cemetery on the left at the .5-mile mark. There are more than 100 family cemeteries across Shenandoah National Park, including this one.
In some cases, descendants of those buried maintain the cemeteries. Take a look at a few tombstones to consider what life was like in the park’s hollows and ridges.
Continue along the trail, then ascend a section of the path that may have served as a road used by the family to reach the closest town, Front Royal.
At the .7-mile mark, you’ll reach a small water crossing. From here, continue along the blue-blazed trail. At the 1.1-mile mark, you’ll reach an open field where the hike began.
Stay left to ascend the hill to the trail kiosk. Your short nature hike is complete. A quick note before you go, pets are not allowed on this trail.
I completed the Fox Hollow Trail and Snead Farm Loop as separate hikes, but you could easily combine the two into one engaging nature hike.
To do this, simply turn left at the trail marker at the 1.1-mile mark. So, instead of returning to the trail kiosk, you’ll walk south on the Dickey Ridge Trail.
Shortly, you’ll turn left onto Snead Farm Road (which turns into Snead Farm Loop Trail) to reach Snead Farm. Turn right on the Dickey Ridge Trail to return to your car.
From the parking area, this easy hike took me just over 30 minutes, including time spent examining tombstones in the family cemetery.
In-season, stop in the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center for a short park orientation film, exhibits and a bookstore. You can also pick up a Junior Ranger Activity Booklet.
Kids ages 7-12 can complete activities in the booklet, then be sworn in as a Junior Ranger and earn a badge. You can also download the booklet before you arrive.