Thornton River Trail

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia 22835

Elevation Gain1,320ft
Trailhead Elevation2,347ft
Elevation Min/Max1126/2347ft
Elevation Start/End2347/2347ft

Thornton River Trail

Thornton River Trail is a hiking trail in Rappahannock County, Virginia. It is within Shenandoah National Park. It is 4.1 miles long and begins at 2,347 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 8.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,320 feet. Near the trailhead there is parking. This trail connects with the following: Hull School Trail.

Thornton River Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Hiking through History Virginia (Falcon Guides)
Johnny Molloy
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"Take a quiet hike through history combined with high-country trekking. Leave Skyline Drive to walk the once settled Thornton Hollow. Here, relics of settlers are scattered throughout the landscape. Wander richly forested flats between crossings of the Thornton River. The Hull School Trail leaves the lowlands and takes you through formerly settled slopes. Cross Skyline Drive, surmounting a peak, then join the Appalachian Trail back to the trailhead."
Hiking Shenandoah National Park (Falcon Guides)
Bert & Jane Gildart
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"Thornton River is a loop hike that descends through some of the park’s best bear country. It passes artifacts of the mountain people and meanders along one of the park’s most beautiful streams. Begin the hike from the Elkwallow Wayside. From the parking lot, take the Appalachian Trail north and follow it across Skyline Drive. Follow the trail uphill for about 1 mile. At mile 1, you encounter a cement post. Turn right and proceed along this trail for only a few yards to another cement post. Turn right onto the Piney Ridge Trail.The left branch is short and leads to the Range View Cabin, operated by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) and available on a reservation basis."
Top Trails Shenandoah National Park (Wilderness Press)
Johnny Molloy
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"This loop is a quiet hike through history, combined with a little high-country trekking. Leave Skyline Drive to walk the once-settled Thornton Hollow. Here, relics of settlers are scattered onto the landscape. Walk along the alluring North Fork Thornton River, one of the park’s more productive trout streams. Wander richly forested flats between creek crossings. Leave the lowlands on the Hull School Trail, angling up a once-settled slope. The path then crosses Skyline Drive and climbs a peak, where a day-use shelter stands. From here, descend to meet the Appalachian Trail (AT). Trace the AT northbound on a pleasant stretch of path back to the trailhead. I have backpacked this loop on a summer Saturday and not seen a soul. Mine was the only car in the lot too."

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Trail Information

Shenandoah National Park
Nearby City
Shenandoah National Park
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Views, Wildflowers, Waterfalls
Shenandoah National Park (540) 999-3500.
Local Contacts
Shenandoah National Park; USGS Thornton Gap
Local Maps

Trail Log