Overall Run Falls is the best waterfall in Shenandoah National Park because the trail is full of secret waterfalls and swimming holes!

waterfall shenandoah national park

Its proximity to Washington DC makes the Overall Run Falls hike in Shenandoah an ideal day trip from Washington DC.

Overall Run Falls also happens to be the tallest waterfall in Shenandoah National Park at 93 feet high.  Keep reading if you want to find out how we accessed the secret swimming holes and which route we took.

How to Hike Overall Run Falls Waterfall Hike in Shenandoah National Park

There are several ways to the viewpoint for this waterfall in Shenandoah National Park. 

The first and most popular is through Mathews Arm Campground.

You can access the Overall Run Falls hike in Shenandoah via the trailhead at the Mathews Arm Campground registration parking area.  This trail is about 5 miles out and back and moderately strenuous.

The second is to park at mile 21 and take the Appalachian Trail to the Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail. This route adds another mile to your hike.

The third method is to access Overall Run Falls via Thompson Hollow, which is the way we went.  Using the Thompson Hollow trail to access Overall Run Falls in Shenandoah you don’t actually enter the park by car, but by foot instead.  

Going this way the hike is about 6ish miles, with the last half mile being straight up hill. 

The reason we chose this route though was for the secret swimming holes that are absolutely amazing! Keep reading for directions.

What to Wear on Your Waterfall Hike in Shenandoah

We did this Shenandoah waterfall hike in late May around 8 am on a Saturday, so it was not quite as hot yet.  You might need a light jacket, but I would recommend shorts and short sleeves.  Or any type of breathable clothing.

For shoes, I would recommend a pair of hiking boots.  I finally caved and bought a pair of real hiking books and love them!  The pair I bought here.  

My husband however hiked the whole thing in his sneakers so it is definitely doable without hiking shoes.

What to Bring on your Waterfall Hike in Shenandoah

Hiking Overall Falls was moderately strenuous, so I would recommend bringing plenty of water.  I had about 21 ounces of water on me but wished I had brought more! 

Keep your water cool with these water bottles.

I also kept a bigger container of water in the car for after the hike which was a great decision because I was super thirsty afterwards.

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Bring bug spray!  There are tons of fly bugs and ticks on this hike.  I sprayed liberally and still found 2 ticks on me even with deet bug spray.

Parking for Thompson Hollow 

The parking lot for Thompson Hollow trail is tiny!  It fits about 10 cars. However we did find that many people just parked on the street.  I’m not sure if it’s allowed or if you will be towed but that seemed to be the norm.

Thompson Hollow parking

If you want to use the designated parking lot though, get there early.  We got there around 8 am on Saturday morning and there were about 2 spaces available. 

Directions to the Secret Waterfall in Shenandoah National Park Via Thompson Hollow

While doing research on hiking Overall Run Falls, I came across a bunch of pictures showing these beautiful waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park.

shenandoah waterfalls

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information on these small waterfalls on the Shenandoah National Park website, but after a deep dive google search I managed to find directions!

shenandoah state park waterfalls

These beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes are only about 1 mile out from the Thompson Hollow trailhead (this is the reason we chose to enter Shenandoah via Thompson Hollow vs. Matthew’s Arm).

From the parking lot walk straight along the gravel road, do not turn off.  The gravel will eventually split, take the left split, where you will see a chain preventing cars from entering.  

Hop over the chain and continue walking until you reach the blue-blazed trail marker.  Here you will have entered Shenandoah.  Keep following the blue-blazed trail until you get to the 3rd cement post that reads “Appalachian Trail.”

thompson hollow trailhead

Take a right and in a few minutes you’ll see a clearing and a split, go left!  You should see and hear these waterfalls!  When we went, the left turn was marked by a black sock!

shenandoah hike trail to waterfall

There are about 3 or 4 pools of water on this Thompson Hollow hike, and the top most waterfall has a natural waterslide.

This waterfall in Shenandoah National Park is probably the prettiest and most unique one I’ve seen in the Washington DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia area.  There’s nothing quite like it!

shenandoah swimming hole

These are the exact GPS coordinates for the waterfall in Shenandoah: 38.789500,-78.321800.

I’ll warn you though coming here in May the water was ICE cold!  I’m talking FREEZING!!!  We came early in the morning and just dipped our toes in, but after we did the Overall Run Falls hike I actually jumped in.  It was still freezing but also refreshing

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I can imagine this secret swimming hole in Virginia  being a great place for a dip in the summertime!

Overall Run Falls – Hiking this Waterfall in Shenandoah National Park

After exploring these picturesque waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park we hiked up to Overall Run Falls.  The hike is only about 6 miles out and back.  The first part was mostly flat with a few creek crossings.  

overall run falls shenandoah

The last ½ mile of the Overall Runs hike is where the “strenuous” classification comes in!  It was all straight uphill!

But the view after getting up there was totally worth it.  I can imagine this hike being a great fall experience in Washington DC.  There are 3 views points for the waterfall with each having a nice flat shady area to sit.  The top viewpoint has the best view of Overall Run Falls.

shenandoah hike

I read many reviews saying this waterfall in Shenandoah National Park was dry when they went, but I guess we lucked out because there was water coming down when we went.  This was after a week of no rain.

shenandoah waterfall

There’s actually another viewpoint about ½ mile up but no one wanted to go any further.

We just sat down and enjoyed the breeze with our sandwiches and water.

overall run falls

I highly recommend this hike for adults.  Though I did see a few children on the trail on our way back, it’s a bit intense I think for a child.

The trail is also rather narrow at some points so we did have to stop quite a few times to let people through who were hiking up as we were coming down.

This is probably the best waterfall in Shenandoah National Park if you happen to live in Washington DC, because it’s only about 1.5 hours away to get to the trail head by car.

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