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You might think the Fox Hollow Discovery Trail refers to a family of foxes, but you’d be mistaken. Like many hiking experiences, this hiking trail in Shenandoah National Park is more than just a walk in the woods. The hollow gets it’s name for a family by the name of Fox, and it is a living history of the generations that lived, farmed, and died on the lands before the National Park was established.

The Fox Hollow Trail in Shenandoah National Park will be our setting for our historical homestead hike for healing.

Along with your snacks, water, and field guide, give yourself a few extra moments to open your heart to the history and culture this land has to offer on this homestead hike.

Access the the Fox Hollow Discovery Trail easily upon entering the park. A total distance of 1.2 miles with an elevation of 1,938 feet, the trail starts at Skyline Drive Milepost 4.6. You will park at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.6), then turn right onto Fox Hollow Trail.

Historical Homestead Hike For Healing In Shenandoah sign
First Park at Dickey Ridge
the path and across the street for the trail hike
Then walk down the path and across the street
Fox Hollow Trail sign
The hike starts here, go to the left.

The mostly rock and dirt loop trail is well marked with blue blazes. You’ll see a large trail kiosk at the trailhead with a map for the Fox Hollow Trail. From the trail kiosk, you’ll see hiking trail go downhill to the left and to the right, making it a little tricky. However, if you continue a little further, a concrete post / metal strip trail marker directs you to go left.

If you want to extend the distance of the hike, you can include Snead Farm. To add this hike, simply turn left where the 1.1-mile marker is. Then instead of returning to the trail kiosk, you’ll walk south on the Dickey Ridge Trail. Turn left onto Snead Farm Road (which becomes the Snead Farm Loop Trail) to reach Snead Farm. This option is a peaceful mindful reminder of holding space to heal.

On the Fox Hollow Discovery Trail, the first evidence of human habitation on the land is at the 0.3 mile mark.

As you stroll along the relaxing forested path, you’ll notice pass piles of rocks lining the trail. This is where the Fox family cleared stones and put them here to farm the land.

The Fox family still resides there, beneath the ground. The family cemetery is at the .5-mile mark. There are more than 100 family cemeteries across the park.

view from Skyline Drive
View from Skyline Drive, SNP

In relation to the location of this homestead in park parameters, it is an interesting coincidence that it’s a mere 4 and a half miles into Skyline Drive, entering from the South at the town of Front Royal. The short distance seems to suggest that the Fox family members traveled back and forth into the closest town (Front Royal) to sustain their daily living needs while supplementing their supplies and provisions. However, history reveals this was not the case, since the people of Appalachia relied solely on mountain plants and wildlife for all of their needs.

Arriving in 1856, four generations of husbands, wives, and children lived and died here. They farmed, fell in love, married, gave birth, and even served as soldiers in the Civil War. 

Then in 1928, The Virginia State Legislature passed the Public Park Condemnation Act. AKA: eminent domain.

Some residents left willingly, welcoming new opportunities. For other residents, this change meant the loss of an entire way of life. Generations of traditions such as plant medicine, self-sufficiency, folk music, and rituals were lost. The community of family clans, gone forever. Gone were their ways of tears and laughter. Simple pleasures like a little girl picking bluebells for her Ma. Leaving behind stone walls and house foundations, yet surviving and eager to share their stories with others. 

There are many ways to connect to life and heal. Traveling, hiking, and honoring humanity are just a few ways. Experiencing the Fox Hollow Discovery Trail will provide you with the opportunity to feel deep reverence to the people who came before. Some believe that even though there are no pilgrimage sites, the earth below is sacred. Participate in a special kind of forest bathing...one that goes beyond the typical five senses. Mindfully sink into your intuition to feel, hear and embrace the heart and soul of both the present and the past. Once you’ve explored this trail thoroughly, continue your love of Shenandoah Valley with plenty of other awesome things to do