When conditions are right, these two waterfalls offer the perfect ice climbing experience and setting. Being within the Shenandoah National Park boundaries, these falls make for a long but pleasant day trip from the DC Metro Area, and even offer a nice sense of “back country isolation” (when they’re not crowded).
At 90 feet tall, Overall Falls is the highest waterfall in Shenandoah National Park, and it offers top-ropeable vertical WI 3+ and 4 lines on either side of the flowing water.
Roughly one to one half-miles away Thudnerbird falls offers more mellow leadable WI 2+ and 3 lines.
Either waterfall can be accessed via the same trail, and you can often see conditions before the trail splits to decide which flow you wish to climb.
- Take I-66 to Exit 13
- VA55 (right) to US340 South to Bentonville.
- VA613 on the left.
- Travel about a mile and look for Thompson Hollow Road on right (VA630).
- Drive about 2-miles until you see a parking area on the right (info Sign)
- Notice blue blazes: start hiking up the road/trail about a mile- up a hill, down a hill, to a trail post-BANG a left.
- Follow the blue blazes crossing the stream a couple of times, heading up stream. You are heading up a stream canyon that will bend up and to the left ending in Overall Falls, with Thunderbird just down stream of the waterfalls on the far side, visible from the overlook.
- As terrain steepens and turns to the left the trail follow the blue blazes up a series of switch backs that lead to an overlook with views of the waterfall up and to the left and Thunderbird directly across on the other side of the canyon.
To top rope the falls: continue on the trail which continues up and then bends around the canyon to the right to the top of the falls. From the top of the falls make it carefully across and scramble/bushwhack to the top of Thunderbird and rap down to its base.
From the overlook: scramble down and cross directly to the base ofThunderbird or scramble down a ways but then scramble upstream to where you can cross where the walls of the canyon meet in the stream and then head back up the opposite side until level with the base of Thunderbird and traverse to the base of thunderbird.
This GEOpdf TOPO, will give a better idea where this area is located: Overall Falls & Thunderbird ICE MAP (GEOpdf topo)
The final approach is not too bad and should be done with crampons; ya don’t want to take the big tumble on the steeper terrain because you were too lazy to put on crampons or carry a piolet for support. I marked the approximate Overall Falls (WI3-4) waterfall location as well as THUNDERBIRD( WI2+) , down stream. I can be way offthe mark so please verify this topo and the above description and email me with your perceptions. >vp<
Another topo: http://goo.gl/maps/09KJ