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Lewis Falls Loop Hike - Shenandoah National Park @ Big Meadows / Appalachian Trail

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Continuing our journey south on the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park, we hiked between Big Meadows Campground and Rock Spring Hut and also extended a little south on a loop of the AT that went to Lewis Falls. This trail is a fairly steep 3.3 mile loop with just under half of it on the Appalachian Trail. This loop is definitely worth the walk. Lewis Falls is listed as an 81’ waterfall. It has a nice observation point that is not obvious to get to. When you get to the top of the falls, there is a large sign warning not to play on the falls. Follow the trail clockwise (to the left) around the top of the falls. The trail crosses the water in a safe area above the falls and continues around clockwise to an area with a metal railing that descends down to a stone walled viewing area. Be careful, the rocks are slippery where the railing is.

The parking for this trail is at the Amphitheater parking toward the back of the Big Meadows Campground behind the Byrd Visitor Center at mile post 51. The top part of the trail splits and you have a choice to follow the Appalachian Trail South or to take the Lewis Falls Trail. The AT route to the falls is much steeper, so if you plan to do a loop, I’d suggest starting on the AT and returning on the Lewis Falls Trail. One could also just follow the Lewis Falls Trail out and back.

We entered the park at Thornton Gap ($20 vehicle fee), quickly filled out a Backcountry Camping Permit, and were on our way to the parking area at Big Meadows Campground. We ate a nice breakfast at the Big Meadows Lodge prior to our overnight AT hike and then ate lunch at the Big Meadows Wayside which had a similar menu but more of a quick eat and run atmosphere. There were a couple straggling SOBO hikers making resupply at the wayside (although pickins were pretty slim, it was the last day the campground was open).

A free permit is required to overnight in the park. More information can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/campbc.htm
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