We couldn’t celebrate July 4th without some pool time and BBQ. ‘Merica, F*** yeah!
- name: Hone Quarry Waterfalls
- type: in & out
- distance: 5.4 miles
- elevation change: 630 ft
- time: 2:11 hours (2:06 hours moving)
- location: North River Ranger District, George Washington National Forest, near Harrisonburg, VA (google map directions)
While we were looking for a short hike, it seems like Hone Quarry Falls can be combined with the Oak Knob loop as described by Hiking Upwards by including the Slate Spring Trail (428A) and US Forest Service Road 85 (85A) which becomes Slate Spring Trail again (428).
Our hike began at the top of Hone Quarry Dam overlooking Hone Quarry.
The gps direction may specify the a parking area further along Hone Quarry Road depending on which app or webpage you utilize, but we didn’t want to take our pavement crawler through the last bit.
From the bottom parking area, there are trails around the quarry and a muddy area where you can put in kayak.
The hike continues on Hone Quarry Road from here, however it is not advisable to drive this portion unless you have high clearance and off road capabilities. For the first quarter mile, the road is flat traveling next to the marshy area formed by Hone Quarry Run flowing into the quarry.
The many flowers here was a surprised that made the road walk a bit more interesting. These flowers are Crown Vetch (Coronilla Varia – uswildflowers) and they were introduced into the US for erosion control, which is now seen as a significant threat to native plants.
We passed an open gate and over the next 1.1 mile, the fire road would gain elevation at roughly a 4.7% grade. The uphill brings the fire road on a ledge of sorts overlooking some old growth forest and of Hone Quarry Ridge at an opening in the trees.
My favorite find along the fire road were clusters of blackberries (Rubus Argutus, wikipedia). Most were not ready yet, but I did find a a few that were perfect. They were very sweet.
Other flowers we found included the Plumeless Thistle (Carduus Nutans, uswildflower),
and Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron Annuus, virginiawildflowers.org) to name a few.
After the initial uphills, the fire road flattens out for the last 0.4 miles we would stay on it. During this stretch, we pass our first junction on the fire road for Pond Knob Trail on our right. This isn’t the trail we are looking for.
The junction we are looking for comes after around the 1.8 mile mark from the top of the dam. Here we cross over a stream and come to the junction on our right. There is a nice campsite to the left. To continue we took the Slate Springs Trail branching off to the right.
Now that we are on a trail, it was only 0.6 miles from the waterfall with a 6.8% grade elevation gain. There are some stinging nettles along the trail here, so I would recommend to be careful or to have your legs covered.
About a quarter mile on the trail, we came to a junction where the Slate Spring Trail will continue to the left and uphills. We took the unnamed trail to the right and crossed over a stream.
Pretty soon, the 25 foot Hone Quarry Waterfall appears.
There is a side trail here that leads to the bottom of the falls and the swimming hole there.
There was already a group here enjoying the pool, so we didn’t stay long to allow for social distancing. Instead we explored the falls from above
and cascades further upstream.
The trail actually continues on for a few hundred more feet bringing us a campsite and more cascades on the stream. The downside was the many flies and mosquitos that also made the puddles along the stream their home.
Before we left, a butterfly decided to show off it’s amazing depth of color to us. I guess he was trying to impress my shoes?
For our return, we simply retraced our steps back to our car.
Then it was BBQ time. We checked out Bean’s Barbecue in Edinburg, VA (tripadvisor), they were all out of ribs so we had their pulled pork. The pork decent and their Vinegar and hot sauces were very good. I would have liked it be have a better smoked flavor however since I can make my own similarly in my oven. Should you want their ribs, they recommended calling a day ahead.
The rating below are based on an unevenly distributed scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). For full description of the ratings and the categories, see the explanation here.
- views: 2. The highlight was Hone Quarry Falls and its swimming hole, though I enjoyed the cascades further along the stream as well. We didn’t see too many people on the trail even for a holiday, however, they will gather at the falls. Otherwise, the trail was on a fire road or through a tunnel of green. The many flowers and older growth forest made the road portion a bit more tolerable at least.
- difficulty: 1. The uphills for the hike were pretty mild in general. The worst part are a few of the open areas on the fire road where the sun can roast you for a bit and the stinging nettles on the short trail toward the falls.
- technical: 1. The trail markers weren’t the clearest, but it shouldn’t be difficult to navigate.