Big Run

Big Run Trailhead is located in the South District at mile 81.2 on Skyline Drive. Here you will find the beginning of the Big Run Loop hike and the Upper and Lower Doyles River Falls hike.

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Downloadable map with trail descriptions. PDF (1.03 MB)
Suggested Hikes
Before You Go
Did You Know

Big Run Trailhead Map

Downloadable map with trail descriptions. PDF (1.03 MB)
*Best if printed in color.

Suggested Hikes

Hike #1: Big Run Loop

Distance: 5.8-mile circuit
Difficulty: moderately strenuous
Duration: 4½ hours
Elevation Gain: 1,658-feet

Follow Big Run Loop Trail downhill. At the trail post, go left, continuing on Big Run Loop Trail. At the next trail post (four-way intersection), go left. You're still on Big Run Loop Trail. Turn left onto the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) north. Cross Skyline Drive. Continue on the A.T. north, and cross Doyles River Overlook. At the next four-way intersection, go left to Doyles River parking. Cross Skyline Drive to return to Big Run Overlook and the starting point.

Hike #2: Upper and Lower Doyles River Falls

Distance: 3.3-mile round trip
Difficulty: moderate
Duration: 2¼ hours
Elevation gain: 1,203-feet

Cross Skyline Drive to Doyles River parking. Follow Doyles River Trail. Pass the access trails for Doyles River Cabin and Browns Gap Road. Trail posts mark the location of Upper and Lower Doyles River Falls. Retrace your steps to return to the parking lot.
View of forest canopy with mountains in the distance from the Big Run trail.
Did You Know?

Nature Unkempt
When you walk through Big Run valley, you'll walk through Wilderness—Wilderness with a capital W. In 1964, Congress passed the Wilderness Act, setting aside millions of acres of public lands to be "untrammeled by man" and to remain "without permanent improvement or human habitation." We are visitorsDi in Wilderness, and so we should leave it as we found it. Forty percent of Shenandoah National Park—almost 80,000 acres—is designated Wilderness. Big Run lies within the largest segment of Wilderness in Shenandoah.
Chestnut-blight photo to the left, compared to healthy chestnut leaves to the right.
An Old Chestnut
Old chestnuts are extremely rare in the U.S. and non-existent in Shenandoah National Park. Since the early 1900s, when a deadly blight first entered this country on imported Asiatic chestnut trees, once-impressive American chestnut trees have died en masse. Magnificent shade trees often growing to 100 feet, American chestnuts were once common in the Appalachians. Before the blight's arrival, the chestnut provided food for livestock and wildlife, and the tanninrich wood and bark were used by locals for lumber, tanning, and charcoal production. In Big Run valley, you will see many American chestnut saplings. New shoots still sprout from the living roots of dead trees. But by the time they get about 20 feet tall, the blight infection will set in and the young trees will die. Despite much scientific effort, an antidote to the blight has never been found.
Before You Go!
Emergency: 1-800-732-0911
(Cell phone service is unreliable)

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times.
  • Do not attempt to cross streams during icy conditions or flooding.
  • Be sure you are physically able to complete the hike you've chosen.
  • Take plenty of water—at least a quart per hour.
  • Be sure you know your route. Free maps are available at entrance stations, visitor centers, and
  • When you return from your hike, check for ticks.
  • Be sure someone knows where you are and when to expect your return.
  • Filter or treat water from streams before drinking.

Last updated: March 3, 2015

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Mailing Address:

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835


(540) 999-3500

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