Doyles River Loop || Shenandoah National Park

Editor's note: This article was originally published in October 2016, and was updated in September 2023 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Jones Run Trail Shenandoah National Park
Jones Run Trail just before the first water crossing.

A trip to Shenandoah National Park was well overdue. For one reason or another, I had not been able to make it to the park. This past October I made it out for a day hike to catch the fall colors. While I might have missed the peak by a couple of days, this trip did not disappoint. 

The plan was to hike the short version of Doyles River Loop. The short version is a 6.5-mile loop with about 1400ft of elevation change. There is a long version of this circuit hike, which will make a loop of almost 8 miles. The trails, in Shenandoah National Park are well maintained, by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). This hike can be found in their guidebook Circuit Hikes in Shenandoah National Park 19th edition 2023. The level of detail that the guidebook provides was all I needed to navigate the trail. The PATC Map 11 which covers the South District of Shenandoah National Park, is another fantastic resource for this hike. PATC maps are the gold standard for the park. Both of these resources can be found in the PATC store, Visitor Center gift shops, and outdoor retailers.

Parking is located at Jones Run Parking (MP 84). It has been my experience that during peak park usage, you want to get to the trailhead by 9:30. If not, you will find yourself dealing with a full parking lot.

Old growth Tulip Popular on Jones Run Trail
Old-growth Tulip Popular.

Following the Jones Run Trail, I was surprised to find old-growth Tulip Popular. They are massive and tower over the forest floor. I found a great spot to have lunch. Just before where the Jones Run and Doyles River Trails meet.

Doyle River Trail Shenandoah National Park
Cedar Mountain in the background of the Doyles River Trail.

This image was taken on the Doyles River Trail about halfway up from Jones Run Trail. In the background is Cedar Mountain Elv 3330 ft. On both trails, you will find a couple of waterfalls. The Jones Run Waterfall (42ft) and the Lower Fall (63ft). Also on Jones Run, there are a couple of pools to enjoy in the summertime. 

I probably do this backward from most people. I end up learning about the history of a place after I have been there. Then learn the history of it before I go. This hike was no different. The picture below is Browns Gap Road. The construction of the road started in 1805 and was known as Brown's Turnpike. During the Civil War, this was an important route and was used by Stonewall Jackson to get his troops across the Blue Ridge on many occasions. There is one lone Confederate Soldier buried along the route. 

Browns Gap Road spans across the park. I enjoyed hiking the section of Browns Gap Road so much that I wanted to go back to hike the entire distance of Browns Gap. It is incredible to me that a road that is 216 years old is in such great shape. I named it the Rhubarb Highway because Rhunarb ran down the side of the trail forever. This was one of the most enjoyable day hikes that I had been on.

Browns Gap Road Shenandoah National Park
Browns Gap Road used to take produce out of the valley to Richmond Virginia.

Trail Notes-

Activity: Day Hiking.
Route/Place: Jones Run Trail/Doyles River Trail/Browns Gap Road/Appalachian Trail/Jones Run parking milepost 84.
Activity Type: Day Hiking.
Trail Difficulty: Jones Run Trail - Easy & Older Kid Friendly.
                            Doyles River Trail -Moderate & Older Kid Friendly.
                            Browns Gap Road - Easy & Kid Friendly.
                            Appalachian Trail - Easy & Kid Friendly.
Trail Conditions: The trail is very well maintained. Marked with trail signs and white & blue blazes.
Waterfalls/Steams: Jones Run Waterfall (42ft) and lower (63ft) & upper falls on Doyles River Trail/ Jones Falls Run & Doyles River.
Trip Results: Successful.
Road Conditions: Road suitable for all vehicles- Access fee.

What you need to know before you go.

Navigate over to our other related articles about hiking in Shenandoah National Park.

Now It's Your Turn-

Leave a comment about your hike of the Doyles River Loop.


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