Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
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- Site Access: Daily, sunrise-sunset; admission fee
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Site MSD04: Dark Hollow Falls Trail, Shenandoah National Park
Elevation: 3429 ft. The Dark Hollow Trail is a little steep in places, but the 1.4-mile loop (optional) trek to Dark Hollow Falls is well worth the trip. The broad path is well maintained as it leads the visitor over the edge of the main ridge along the stream course. At the height of the spring runoff, these falls are an impressive site as water cascades 70 feet down the side of the mountain. Birds to search for as you descend the trail include ovenbird, red-eyed vireo, gray catbird, scarlet tanager, eastern towhee and dark-eyed junco. Keep a careful lookout for common ravens soaring overhead or perhaps just croaking out of sight. Butterflies intermix among the blooming wildflowers along the trail. Search for eastern tiger swallowtail, great spangled fritillary, common wood-nymph and red-spotted purple. One of the most exciting parts of any walk in Shenandoah National Park is the possibility of the seeing large mammals rarely encountered elsewhere. The white-tailed deer are clearly the most obvious and few visitors will leave with out seeing a few. Other species to be on the alert for include bobcat and black bear. Black bear is a specialty of Skyline Drive, reaching one of the highest densities to be found in Virginia. Late summer is one of the best times to search for bear. This is after the cubs have been born and when the bears congregate around the few perennial water sources in the park. Dark Hollow Trail follows one of these perennial streams making a bear sighting very possible. However, be respectful and extremely cautious of these megafauna; although they might seem indifferent to your presence, they are very alert to their surroundings and especially protective of their young.
From Limberlost Trail, continue south on Skyline Drive 7.6 miles to parking area on the left. The trail is across the street from and slightly north of the Big Meadows Visitor's Center.