The Best Hikes in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park in Virginia offers a wide range of hiking opportunities, with trails that cater to various levels of hikers. There really is something for everyone here! It’s also under two hours from Washington, DC making it a great day trip from there and is known for their stunning views, waterfalls, and natural beauty. From easy hiking trails to all day summits, these are the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park.

I’ve lived in the DC area for over 13 years now and nothing quite beats spending a day in nature in Shenandoah NP! Every one of the hikes on this list are my personal favorites and many I’ve done several times. I start with the easiest hikes on the list and continue to the hikes that will day you a full day.

Snead Farm Loop Trail

 

The Snead Farm Loop Trail is a great choice for those looking for a short and easy hike in Shenandoah that provides a glimpse into the history of Shenandoah National Park. It’s perfect for a relaxing walk and a visit to a historic farmstead in a peaceful meadow setting.

 

The Snead Farm Loop Trail is a short and easy hiking trail located in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. It offers a pleasant walk through a peaceful meadow and a visit to a historic farm.

 

Trail Details:

 
  • Location: The Snead Farm Loop Trail is near mile 51.0 on Skyline Drive, in the northern section of Shenandoah National Park.
  • Distance: The loop trail is approximately 3.7 miles long, offering a short and easy hike.
  • Difficulty: The Snead Farm Loop Trail is considered very easy and is suitable for hikers of all levels, including families with children. It’s a great option for a leisurely stroll.
  • Scenic Highlights: The trail leads to Snead Farm, which is the site of a historic farmstead and a picturesque meadow. You can explore the farm’s old buildings and enjoy the open meadow, which offers lovely views.
  • Trail Characteristics: The trail is a well-maintained dirt path through a forested area, and it also passes through the open meadow around the farm. It’s mostly level and not too steep.
  • Historic Farm: The Snead Farm site provides insights into the region’s history, with a farmhouse, barn, and other structures from the early 20th century.
  • Best Times to Hike: The hike can be enjoyed year-round, with wildflowers in the spring and vibrant foliage in the fall. Spring and early summer are particularly beautiful when the meadow is in bloom.
 

Black Rock Summit

The Blackrock Summit Trail is a short, easy, and rewarding hike in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. This trail takes you to a unique rock outcropping that offers panoramic views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

 

Blackrock Summit is an excellent choice for hikers looking for a short and easy hike that offers rewarding vistas. Whether you’re seeking a quick escape into nature, traveling with family, or just want to enjoy the beauty of Shenandoah National Park without a long time commitment, this trail provides a quick and delightful experience.

 

Trail Details:

 
  • Location: The trailhead for Blackrock Summit is near mile 85.5 on Skyline Drive, making it accessible for park visitors.
  • Distance: The Blackrock Summit Trail is a short 1-mile loop trail, making it one of the easiest and quickest hikes in the park.
  • Difficulty: This trail is considered very easy, suitable for hikers of all levels, including families with children and those with limited mobility. The trail is well-maintained and not too steep.
  • Scenic Highlights: The main attraction of the hike is Blackrock Summit, a unique rock outcropping that offers 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape. You can see the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, and the Piedmont region.
  • Trail Characteristics: The trail is a well-marked dirt path that leads to the summit. There are some rocky sections near the summit, but the trail is generally easy to navigate.
  • Best Times to Hike: The hike can be enjoyed year-round, and the summit views are beautiful at any time. However, sunrise and sunset are particularly stunning from Blackrock Summit.

Little Stony Man

A 3.4-mile round-trip hike with a relatively short climb to Little Stony Man Cliffs, which offer breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Little Stony Man is an excellent choice for those seeking a relatively short and rewarding hike with incredible views. Whether you’re a beginner hiker or looking for a family-friendly adventure, this trail offers a taste of the beauty and natural wonders found in Shenandoah National Park.

Trail Details:

  • Location: The trailhead for Little Stony Man is located along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, near mile 39.1. This makes it easily accessible for visitors driving through the park.
  • Distance: The hike to Little Stony Man Cliffs and back is approximately 1.6 miles in total, making it a relatively short and easy hike.
  • Difficulty: Little Stony Man is considered an easy hike, suitable for hikers of all levels, including families with children. The trail is well-marked, and the ascent is not overly steep.
  • Scenic Highlights: The highlight of the hike is the panoramic view from Little Stony Man Cliffs. This viewpoint provides breathtaking vistas of the Shenandoah Valley, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the surrounding wilderness.
  • Trail Characteristics: The trail is a well-maintained dirt path through a beautiful forested area. While the trail is relatively easy, it may include some rocky sections or minor elevation changes.
  • Loop Option: While the primary hike is an out-and-back, you can opt to turn it into a loop by connecting to the Appalachian Trail and returning to the trailhead via the AT. This extended loop is approximately 3.4 miles.
  • Best Times to Hike: The hike can be enjoyed year-round, with beautiful foliage in the fall and cool, crisp air. However, the views from Little Stony Man Cliffs are particularly stunning on clear days, especially during sunrise and sunset.

Dark Hollow Falls

Dark Hollow Falls is a fantastic choice for those seeking a short and easily accessible hike that leads to a beautiful waterfall. Whether you’re looking for a quick escape into nature, traveling with family, or simply want to enjoy the beauty of Shenandoah National Park without an all-day commitment, this trail offers a delightful experience.

Dark Hollow Falls is one of the most popular and easily accessible waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. This short hike takes you to a beautiful waterfall.

You can combine this hike with Rose River Falls easily.

Trail Details:

  • Location: The trailhead for Dark Hollow Falls is located near mile 50.7 on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, making it very accessible for park visitors.
  • Distance: The hike to Dark Hollow Falls is approximately 1.4 miles round-trip. This makes it a short and relatively easy hike, suitable for most hikers.
  • Difficulty: Dark Hollow Falls is considered an easy to moderate hike. The descent to the waterfall is relatively easy, but be prepared for a moderate uphill climb on your way back.
  • Scenic Highlights: The main attraction of the hike is Dark Hollow Falls, a picturesque waterfall that cascades down a rocky slope. The trail provides excellent views of the falls and the surrounding forested area.
  • Trail Characteristics: The trail is a well-maintained dirt path through a beautiful wooded area. It’s generally straightforward, with some rocky sections near the waterfall.
  • Best Times to Hike: The hike can be enjoyed year-round, but the falls are particularly beautiful in the spring when wildflowers are in bloom. Fall is also a great time to hike due to the colorful foliage in the park.

Mary’s Rock

Mary’s Rock is another popular and scenic hiking destination in Shenandoah National Park. It offers breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountains. This is a 3.4-mile out-and-back trail near the Thornton Gap entrance of Shenandoah. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 2 h 15 min to complete.

Trail Details:

  • Location: The trailhead for Mary’s Rock is located at the Panorama parking area near mile 31.6 on Skyline Drive. This makes it easily accessible for visitors driving through the park.
  • Distance: The hike to Mary’s Rock is approximately 2.8 miles out-and-back. This makes it a moderate-length hike that can be completed in a few hours.
  • Difficulty: Mary’s Rock is considered a moderate hike, with a gradual ascent. While it’s not overly challenging, it does involve some uphill sections and can be rocky in parts.
  • Scenic Highlights: The main attraction of the hike is the panoramic view from Mary’s Rock. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas of the Shenandoah Valley, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Massanutten Range. It’s a fantastic spot to take in the natural beauty of the area.
  • Trail Characteristics: The trail is a well-marked dirt path that winds through a picturesque forested landscape. You’ll encounter rocky sections, especially near the summit, but the trail is generally well-maintained.
  • Best Times to Hike: The hike is enjoyable year-round, but the views from Mary’s Rock are particularly impressive on clear days, especially during sunrise and sunset. The fall season is also a popular time to hike this trail due to the vibrant foliage.

Hawksbill Mountain

The hike to Hawksbill Mountain, the park’s highest peak, is relatively short at about 2.2 miles round-trip. The summit provides breathtaking 360-degree views of the Shenandoah Valley. Like other hikes on this list, there are various routes.
 

For those looking for a quick challenge, try Upper Hawksbill Mountain. For those looking for an easier, but longer hike, try the traditional Hawksbill Mountain trail. I’ve done both and both are equally rewarding!

 

Hawksbill Mountain is an excellent choice for those seeking a relatively short and rewarding hike with incredible views. Whether you’re a beginner hiker, a family with children, or simply looking for a quick escape into nature, this trail offers a glimpse of the beauty and natural wonders found in Shenandoah National Park.

 

Trail Details:

 
  • Location: The trailhead for Hawksbill Mountain is located near mile 45.5 on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, making it easily accessible for visitors driving through the park.
  • Distance: The hike to Hawksbill Summit is approximately 2.2 miles round-trip, making it a relatively short and easy hike.
  • Difficulty: Hawksbill Mountain is considered an easy to moderate hike. The ascent is gradual, and the well-marked trail offers a straightforward and rewarding experience.
  • Scenic Highlights: The main attraction of the hike is the panoramic view from Hawksbill Summit. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the Shenandoah Valley, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Massanutten Range.
  • Trail Characteristics: The trail is a well-maintained dirt path through a beautiful forested area. It involves some rocky sections, but the hike is generally straightforward.
  • Best Times to Hike: The hike can be enjoyed year-round, with beautiful foliage in the fall and cool, crisp air. The views from Hawksbill Summit are particularly stunning on clear days, especially during sunrise and sunset.

Rose River Falls

 

Rose River Falls is another beautiful waterfall in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. This moderate hike takes you to a serene waterfall and offers a pleasant day in nature. It’s great for swimming in the summer!

 

Rose River Falls is an excellent choice for hikers looking for a moderately challenging hike that rewards with a beautiful waterfall and peaceful natural surroundings. The trail provides a nice opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of Shenandoah National Park and escape into the tranquility of the forest.

 

You can combine this hike with Dark Hollow Falls easily.

 

Trail Details:

 

  • Location: The trailhead for Rose River Falls is near the Fishers Gap Overlook, located at mile 49.4 on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.
  • Distance: The full loop trail is about 4 miles in total, although you can choose to hike shorter sections if desired.
  • Difficulty: Rose River Falls is considered a moderate hike, as it involves some elevation changes and varied terrain. It’s a moderate-level hike suitable for most hikers.
  • Scenic Highlights: The hike leads you to Rose River Falls, a picturesque and serene waterfall in a wooded setting. The trail offers lovely forest views, streams, and the opportunity to connect with nature.
  • Trail Characteristics: The trail is a well-maintained path that meanders through a forested area. You’ll encounter wooden bridges and, as the name suggests, a river. The trail can be rocky in places, but it is generally easy to follow.
  • Best Times to Hike: Rose River Falls is lovely to hike year-round, but spring brings vibrant wildflowers and autumn showcases colorful foliage. The waterfall is often most impressive after a rainfall.

Lewis Spring Falls
 

A 3.3-mile round-trip hike that takes you to a serene waterfall, offering a quieter alternative to some of the more popular trails. Lewis Spring Falls is an excellent choice for hikers looking for a moderately challenging hike and a peaceful, natural setting. It’s a bit off the beaten path compared to some of the more popular hikes in Shenandoah National Park, making it a great option if you’re seeking a quieter and less crowded trail.

 

Trail Details:

  • Location: The trailhead for Lewis Spring Falls is near the Big Meadows area of Shenandoah National Park, close to mile 51 on Skyline Drive.
  • Distance: The hike to Lewis Spring Falls is about 3.3 miles round-trip, making it a moderate-length hike that can be completed in a few hours.
  • Difficulty: Lewis Spring Falls is considered a moderate hike. It involves some elevation changes and a variety of terrain, so it’s important to wear appropriate footwear.
  • Scenic Highlights: The highlight of the hike is Lewis Spring Falls, a serene waterfall located in a lush, wooded area. The trail meanders through a beautiful forest and offers peaceful surroundings.
  • Trail Characteristics: The trail is a well-maintained dirt path that winds through a mixed hardwood forest. It’s a quiet and peaceful hike, away from the more crowded areas of the park.
  • Best Times to Hike: The trail is lovely to hike year-round, but it’s particularly beautiful in the spring and fall due to the wildflowers and colorful foliage. Visiting after a rainfall can make the waterfall more impressive.

Overall Run Falls

This 6.4-mile hike takes you to the tallest waterfall in the park, with a 93-foot drop. Overall Run Falls is one of the many beautiful waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park. To visit Overall Run Falls, you can take the Overall Run/Beecher Ridge Loop Trail, which is a moderately challenging hike. 

Trail Details:

  • Location: The trailhead for Overall Run Falls is located near the Mathews Arm area of Shenandoah National Park, around mile 21 on Skyline Drive.
  • Distance: The full loop trail, known as the Overall Run/Beecher Ridge Loop, is approximately 6.4 miles long.
  • Difficulty: This is a moderately challenging hike due to the length and elevation changes. Be prepared for some uphill sections on the Beecher Ridge part of the loop.
  • Scenic Highlights: The trail offers a variety of beautiful scenery, including a stream, a hardwood forest, and, of course, the stunning Overall Run Falls.
  • Overall Run Falls: The highlight of the trail is, of course, the magnificent Overall Run Falls, which you’ll encounter at the halfway point. The falls are particularly impressive after a heavy rain, but they are beautiful year-round.
  • Loop Trail: The trail is a loop, and you can choose to go either clockwise or counterclockwise. Going clockwise (starting on Overall Run Trail) is often recommended as it allows you to descend the steeper section and then return along the gently sloping Beecher Ridge.

Whiteoak Canyon

 

These two trails combine for a spectacular loop hike that takes you past multiple waterfalls and offers some of the park’s best scenery. Whiteoak Canyon is a favorite among hikers in Shenandoah National Park due to its natural beauty, waterfalls, and scenic charm. The choice of how far to hike allows for varying levels of difficulty and makes it suitable for a range of hikers, from beginners to more experienced outdoors enthusiasts.

 

There are two ways to hike from the upper falls or from the lower falls. I recommend starting from the lower falls as it will mean the uphill portions are completed first and find that the hike to the first to falls is the easiest. This allows you to spend less time hiking uphill and more time enjoying the falls!

 

Trail Details:

  • Location: The trailhead for Whiteoak Canyon is located near mile 42.6 on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, making it easily accessible for park visitors.
  • Distance: The full Whiteoak Canyon hike is approximately 4.8 miles one way, but you can choose to hike as far as you’re comfortable and then turn back. The trail leads to a series of waterfalls, with each waterfall reached at varying distances along the trail.
  • Difficulty: The hike’s difficulty can vary depending on how far you choose to go. The lower falls are relatively easy to reach, but the higher falls involve steeper terrain and more challenging sections. The upper falls are the most strenuous part of the hike.
  • Scenic Highlights: Whiteoak Canyon is known for its waterfalls, with some cascades and pools suitable for swimming. The lower falls are more easily accessible, while the upper falls require a more strenuous ascent.
  • Trail Characteristics: The trail is well-marked and well-maintained, passing through a lush and diverse forest. It involves elevation changes, some rocky sections, and stream crossings.
  • Best Times to Hike: Whiteoak Canyon is beautiful year-round. Spring brings lush greenery and wildflowers, summer offers the opportunity to cool off in the pools, and fall showcases colorful foliage. Winter hiking can be enjoyable, but be cautious of icy conditions.
 
 
Old Rag Mountain
 

This is one of the most popular hikes in the park, known for its challenging but rewarding rock scramble and panoramic views. It’s a 9-mile circuit hike, and it’s recommended for experienced hikers. You should start this hike early in the morning as it gets crowded and even if you might be a fast hiker, through the rock scramble areas, there’s often a line making the trail take sometimes an hour or more longer to complete due to tracffic.

 

Old Rag Mountain is a thrilling and rewarding hike for those seeking adventure and outstanding views. It’s important to be well-prepared and in good physical shape when attempting this hike, but the unique rock scramble and breathtaking vistas make it a memorable experience for many hikers.

 

Given the challenging nature of this hike, it’s essential to be well-prepared with adequate water, proper footwear (sturdy hiking boots are recommended), and any necessary gear. Also, check for park regulations and safety guidelines.

 

Trail Details:

  • Location: Old Rag Mountain is located in the northern part of Shenandoah National Park, and the trailhead is around mile 35 on Skyline Drive.
  • Distance: The Old Rag hike is approximately 9 miles for the full circuit, which includes the Ridge Trail and Saddle Trail. It’s a long and challenging hike that typically takes 6-8 hours to complete.
  • Difficulty: Old Rag is considered a difficult and strenuous hike, suitable for experienced hikers in good physical condition. The rock scramble is the most challenging part, but the entire trail involves elevation changes and rocky terrain.
  • Scenic Highlights: The hike offers a variety of stunning viewpoints and rock outcroppings along the way, culminating in the summit, which provides 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Rock Scramble: The rock scramble on Old Rag is a highlight and a unique aspect of this hike. Hikers must climb and navigate boulders and rocky sections, which can be physically demanding and may require the use of your hands.
  • Trail Characteristics: The trail begins with a gradual ascent through a wooded area before reaching the rock scramble. After the scramble, it continues along the ridge and descends via the Saddle Trail.
  • Best Times to Hike: IStart early in the day, especially during the peak hiking season, to avoid crowds and make sure you have plenty of daylight to complete the hike. This hike is really beautiful in the fall.
From easy hiking trails to all day summits, these are the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park from a local.
From easy hiking trails to all day summits, these are the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park from a local.

No matter which one, you’re in for great views and tons of fun with the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park. The park also has a variety of other trails to explore, so you can choose the ones that match your hiking preferences and abilities.

Always check the trail conditions, be prepared with appropriate gear and supplies, and ensure you’re hiking within your skill level when exploring Shenandoah National Park.

Meghan

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