Riprap trail via Wildcat Ridge

RipRap trail is a fan favorite around here and quite popular and for the last few weeks, I have been thinking about adding this one of my achievements. My only hesitation was that it was going through a few water crossings and I wasn’t interested in getting my feet wet in December.

Due to the popularity of this trail, I did a little bit of research and found that parking at Wildcat Ridge parking lot was a viable option and I set a date for myself to go hike.

Trail Overview

The Riprap Trail via Wildcat Ridge is a 9.8-mile loop trail that winds through forests, along scenic streams, and across rocky outcrops, and you’ll come across views and opportunities to observe local flora and fauna.

  • Location: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, USA
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Distance: Approximately 9.8 miles (15.8 km) round trip
  • Elevation Gain: Approximately 2,000 feet (610 meters)
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
  • Best Time to Visit: Late spring to early fall (May to October)

Trailhead and Access

The Riprap Trail via Wildcat Ridge starts at the Wildcat Ridge Parking Lot, conveniently located off Skyline Drive within Shenandoah National Park. The parking lot is well-marked and easily accessible by car.

View along the riprap trail

Scenery and Points of Interest

Riprap Falls: A beautiful waterfall that is quite a popular spot to take a break and enjoy the serene surroundings.

Wildcat Ridge Overlook: A scenic overlook offering views of the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountains. Another great spot for photography and enjoying a picnic lunch.

Rocky Outcrops: Several rocky outcrops along Wildcat Ridge offer stunning views and unique vantage points for observing the landscape below.

I intended on taking my time on this 9.8-mile loop, enjoying the scenery and what I was expecting to be a moderate workout.

My Experience

Buck running in the water

I was in my head, thinking about this blog and some other things in my life, and before I knew it, I stood 1.5 feet away from this buck.

And there we stood like deer in the headlight moment (pun intended) before he ran off, right into the water.

I have never been that close to a wild deer before and I sure am glad it wasn’t a bear!

Once this moment was over, I continued on my way on what is considered a moderate hike and enjoyed the solitude!

Chimney Rock

I took a quick photo and paused to take in the view and while the trees were without foliage, I didn’t hate it – in fact, I think it gave it a little something to be able to see a proper view without a tree in your face.

rocks along the trail

I then continued for a few feet before taking a break to eat my lunch, where I forgot to resume my mileage tracker for about 0.2 miles – whoops.

The trail continued with rocky pathways and the elevations presented a mix of challenges and rewards.

The streams I had been so worried about earlier this year, were nothing to the point I didn’t even pull out my trekking poles to help me stay steady.

And even though the weather didn’t call for rain, and the mountains were unpredictable, I was caught in a drizzle the last 2 miles of the hike. Thank goodness I keep extra clothes in my car.

I completed the 9.8 miles in about 4 hours and 41 minutes and will be looking forward to doing the Riprap trail again perhaps in the summertime.

I will say I was slightly disappointed by the amount of trash I picked up along the way from tissues to kind bar wrappers.

So ready to go hiking the RipRap Trail? If so, I’d love for you to share your favorite part in the comments below.

German by birth, living, hiking, and camping in the US. Addicted to Coffee. Enjoys going to concerts. Also, Artist + Author. I love to encourage you to explore beyond your backyard. 

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