Shenandoah National Park – Tuscarora Overall Run & Heiskell Hollow Trail Loop

Hiking the Tuscarora Overall Run & Heiskell Hollow Trail Loop

This weekend we hiked an over 10-mile loop starting at the bottom of the valley at the parking area near Thompson Hollow Trail.  The parking area is not at the beginning of Thompson Hollow Trail, but a 5-minute walk away down a dirt road.

Wildflowers Along the Road

Along this road, there are several pretty wildflowers at this time of year – Chicory, Queen Ann’s Lace, Yarrow, and Common Dayflowers. The Chicory and Common Dayflowers were blooming in the morning, but closed in the afternoon when it was very sunny and hot.

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace, Wild Carrot, or Daucus carota, is a member of the Carrot family (Apiaceae) and blooms May to October in dry fields and waste places. Native to Europe, this plant is the ancestor of the garden carrot. It is now widespread across North America.

Wildflowers on Overall Run Trail

After almost a mile we turned right to follow Overall Run Trail, which goes along Overall Run, a relatively dry stream during the summer months. Not far along there is a popular swimming hole area just off to the left. The water looked relatively shallow at this time of year, compared to when we visited in January, but there were many people enjoying the cool fresh water in the forest. Nearby the swimming hole we found some Canada Goldenrod and Hoary Mountain Mint.

Going along Overall Run Trail, we also saw: Wild Petunia, Basil Bee Balm, Philadelphia Fleabane, Lady’s Thumb, and lots of Creeping Bush Clover.

Appalachian Ironweed

Appalachian Ironweed

Appalachian Ironweed, Broadleaf Ironweed, or Vernonia glauca, is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms July to October. Native to the eastern U.S., they attract a variety of butterflies. It grows in dry, open woods.

We found a few of these on the connecting path to Heiskell Hollow Trail.

Heiskell Hollow Trail

Compared with Overall Run Trail and Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail, Heiskell Hollow Trail is far less travelled and provides good solitude in the woods. The path went up and down several times, making for demanding exercise.

Wildflowers on Heiskell Hollow Trail

Reclining St. Andrews Cross

Reclining St. Andrews Cross

Reclining St. Andrews Cross, or Hypericum hypericoides ssp. multicaule, is a member of the St. John’s Wort family (Hypericaceae) and blooms June to September.  The four elongated petals make an X shape similar to the St. Andrew’s cross.

We found a few of these along Heiskell Hollow Trail.

Wildflowers on Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail

Near the end of Heiskell Hollow we turned off on a connector to Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail. We passed by many people starting from there, as that area has popular trails – both because they branch off from Mathews Arm Campground and there are three waterfalls along Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail under good conditions (early spring and after heavy rain are likely best).

Joe-Pye Weed

Joe-Pye Weed

Joe-Pye Weed, or Eutrochium dubium, is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms July to September. Native to eastern North America, it grows in medium to full sun in wet meadows. Joe Pye was reportedly a Native American herbalist, who used the plant to treat typhus.

We found some in sunny areas along the connector.

Appalachian Bellflower

Appalachian Bellflower

Appalachian Bellflower, Southern Harebell, or Campanula divaricata, is a member of the Bellflower family (Campanulaceae) and blooms July to September. Native to the southeastern U.S., it favors rocky dry cliffs and dry woods.

We found a few of these on Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail near the waterfall viewpoints.

Hiking in the Summer

It was a hot July day for this hike, close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit at the bottom of the mountain. By the time we finished we drank over 5 liters of water between the two of us and were out. If you go in summer, as many people do, I would recommend bringing along a lot of water and/or sports drinks, even if you’re only doing a shuttle hike or a shorter loop.

Recommended as a Hike

It was a challenging hike with different types of woodland scenery and one lovely viewpoint of Shenandoah Valley from a waterfall overlook.

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