Rose River – Big Meadows – Rapidan Fire Road – Dark Hollow

This is the shortest loop from the Rose River Trailhead and is mostly fire road (although the lower Rose River Fire Road is pretty rocky), making it ideal for the novice trail runner.

  • 14.6 miles
Running time
  • 2.5–4 hours
Total ascent/descent
  • 2,470 feet
    170 feet/mile
GPX file
Print or download
What to wear


From the Rose River Trailhead climb the Rose River Fire Road. This is the remnant of the Blue Ridge Turnpike built in the 1850s to connect farms of the Shenandoah Valley to the railroads in the east. After 1.45 miles, pass the Upper Dark Hollow Trail coming in from the left (you will return on this trail at the end of the run). Stay on the fire road and continue the climb on broad switchbacks. After 4.7 miles, pass the Stony Mountain Trail to the left. Again, stay on the fire road. At 5.6 miles, arrive at Dark Hollow Falls.

At the falls, take the Dark Hollow Falls Trail to Skyline Drive and then over to the Big Meadows Wayside (mile 7.1). Refuel here if necessary.

From the Wayside, descend on the Rapidan Fire Road for nearly 4 miles to Broyles Gap and the intersection with the Upper Dark Hollow Falls Trail (mile 11). Take a left and descend 1.5 miles. You will intersect another trail (look for the “W” on a tree). Take the trail off to the left, staying on the Upper Dark Hollow Falls Trail for 0.7 miles down to the Rose River Fire Road. Take a right and follow the fire road 1.45 miles back to your car.


Last updated October 29, 2020

What you do is up to you, but you shouldn't rely on these directions alone; they are often not specific enough to navigate by, and may be incorrect or out of date. Review a map beforehand and carry it with you. Tell a friend where you are going and when you plan to return. Do not count on having cell phone service while on the run. The VHTRC is not responsible for your welfare on any of these runs. If you go on one of these runs and get lost, run out of water, get injured, mauled by a bear, or die, or if anything else goes wrong, it's your fault; not ours. You assume all risks here and the VHTRC assumes none at all. Legal issues aside, some of these runs are more remote than others and the VHTRC is not suggesting that you do any of these runs, unless you are prepared to accept full responsibility for yourself.