“This moderately difficult run winds through pools and small cascades with several stream crossings.”
— Larry W. Brown
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Swimming · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This run drops west from Skyline Drive to Meadow Run and then slowly climbs north and east along the Riprap Trail
back to the Drive, three miles north of the start-point at Wildcat Ridge Trailhead parking. Be ready for a number stream crossings and lots of water features to explore.
The trail begins at the Wildcat Ridge Trailhead parking area, south of Moormans River Overlook. It heads west, crossing the AT: Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PA/MD/VA/WV)
after a couple hundred yards and then switchbacks along Wildcat Ridge, down toward Meadow Run. There are a few spots along the descent that provide a view ahead, through the trees, of Turk Mountain and Crimora Lake toward the southwest.
Follow the ridge line down for another half-mile to where the trail turns sharply to the right (north). The trail drops along the ridge, crosses the stream, and then bends to the left and passes through a section of woods. Not long after you cross the stream again, it feeds into a larger stream that flows down through Riprap Hollow.
The trail fords the stream and continues to the intersection with the Riprap Trail
, which was built as a fire road next to the stream. The Riprap Trail
has been rerouted because of high water damage during floods so that it skirts along the ridge up higher on the west bank.
You can still see traces of the old road/trail along the way. After about a half-mile on the Riprap Trail
, look for one of the park's biggest swimming holes. On the far left side of the stream is the site of the Riprap Shelter which was removed in 1977 in accordance with wilderness area policies.
Continue heading north as the trail climbs gradually, turning east, back toward Skyline Drive. Follow a small section of the AT: Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PA/MD/VA/WV)
south to the Riprap Trailhead parking area. You have the option to end your run here if you have someone to pick you up at this trailhead. Otherwise, take a right onto the AT to make a loop back to your car at the Wildcat Ridge Trailhead.
Flora & Fauna
Look out for rhododendrons with their arge, showy, violet-colored flowers that bloom during the last half of May.