No other word is expressive enough to describe the upper part of the Rose River. What great trout water! We were the only fishermen on the river – while over at Jeremy’s Run – where we started the day, there were at least 5 other guys working that mediocre stretch of stream.
To get there, take Skyline Drive to the Fisher’s Gap parking area. There is a Rose River loop trail that I show on the map to the right. You can walk down to the River from either side. If you take the right (East) portion of the loop, it’s only 1.7 miles; heading left is 2.0 miles. Either way, the hike is moderately demanding – as you can tell from the contour lines, the terrain is steep.
But, the hike is well worth it. The flow on April 14 was strong and produced plenty of deep pockets that hold the prettiest little trout you ever saw. My friend Dick and I caught plenty of fish in the 6 to 9 inch range (released all). Even this early in the year, the water was not too cold to wade in. I used my standard of boots with a neoprene sock. The sun bakes off the rocks and echoes off the canyon walls; and, being without leaf cover, the reflected heat warmed up the water and the air perfectly.
The river cuts a narrow path through the canyon, making it tough to follow the river downstream. You must expect to do some fancy balancing and sometimes will need to get on all fours to negotiate the rocks that line the river. There is no level area or easy footpath that follows the riverbed.
- Wading stick: I use a wading stick that I got at Dick’s Sporting Goods. It gives you a third point of balance and makes it a lot easier to be stable as you cross the water and dance from rock to rock to get to the good water.
- Day Pack: The hike and rock crawl are demanding. It was not that hot on April 14, but we still went through several bottles of water that I carried down in a day pack. In addition, you will want to have dry hiking boots – so carry whatever you are going to use in the stream down with you and change to them when you get to the water
- Water: Bring plenty. Being obsessive, I brought water purification pills as well – we did not need these – but don’t short yourself on water
The entire length of the Rose looked fishable. We fished from the junction of the Hogcamp Branch and the Rose downstream.
On the way out, you need to recognize the amount of time it will take to get back to the car. Getting in is all downhill and fairly quick. Dick and I figured that it would take about 2 hours to walk back out and we were not that far off. We started out from the far right at 3:30 and got back to the truck at Fisher’s Gap just before 5:00. Remember that you have to do all the hard work crawling over the rocks in reverse to get back up to the marked path – so give yourself plenty of time.
So… how hard is it? I’m 54, Dick’s a little older – but we are both in pretty good shape – and I was certainly sore and stiff the next day given that my daily exercise routine does not include a “stairstepper” to get my calves and thighs in shape for the vertical climb out.
This was the first hill climb I had done in the Shenandoah and it taught me what to expect and confirmed that 54 is definitely not over the hill. But, I do run almost 3 miles a day and work with weights – so do not try this if you have spent the last year on the couch
This is the trailhead at Fishers Gap. If you go this way, it will take you to Hogcamp Branch – and add another 0.3 miles to your trek. Turn left here and go the short way.
This is the junction of the Rose and the Hogcamp. The first of many great pools. This one was full of 9 inch trout.
Dick working up his fly gear. He used Mayflies with great success.
Looking upstream from the junction. Have you ever seen better water?
Remember that the Shenandoah National Park is a special regulation area.
- You can only use a single hook
- Natural bait is prohibited.
Typical Rose River trout. No dull grey, lifeless stocker trout here!
This part of the Rose is fairly steep – producing classic scenes like this one.
Sadly, I discovered this pool – it had to be 8 feet deep – at the end of the day and did not have time to fish it. Next time!
Your blogger at the junction of the Rose and Hogcamp on the way back out.
The trail out is moderately steep. You have about 900 ft of vertical gain to deal with (moving up the Rose River side on the right)
The Rose is fishable pretty much all the way up. This shot was taken short of the Rose River Falls.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore