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12 Best Hikes in Shenandoah National Park

12 Best Hikes in Shenandoah National Park


The US has some unimaginable nationwide parks, and Shenandoah National Park is one among them. Just a 1.5-hour drive from Washington DC, Shenandoah has over 200,000 acres of wildlife and spectacular surroundings. The park extends throughout Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, with the well-known Skyline Drive slicing by way of the center. Shenandoah National Park has tons of wildlife, together with black bears. It additionally has dramatic mountains, and Old Rag Mountain and Hawksbill Mountain supply among the greatest hikes in Shenandoah.

What are the most effective hikes in Shenandoah National Park moreover summit hikes, although? Shenandoah has over 500 miles of mountaineering trails to discover, so you aren’t wanting choices.

Top Hikes in Shenandoah National Park

From waterfall hikes to mountain climbing, we’ve picked the best possible hikes in Shenandoah National Park. These mountaineering trails are certain to get you feeling impressed.

1. Mill Prong Trail

Mill Prong is a scenic, fairly woodland hike. Hikers are surrounded by wildflowers like mountain laurels and shaded by the timber round them. The path additionally runs alongside Mill Prong River, and also you’ll cross over the river through a number of footbridges all through the hike. A return hike takes round two hours, and Mill Prong is an out-and-back path.

So, why must you hike this path? Well, its Rapidan Camp’s endpoint was as soon as the vacation house of President Herbert Hoover and First Lady Lou Henry Hoover. The couple spent many a contented time in the woodland camp, and now you’ll be able to view the camp as a historic attraction. There are three cabins in whole, with one signposted because the Prime Minister’s and informative indicators dotted round with tales and details in regards to the camp and the way Hoover spent his time there.

Mill ProngTrail Map
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The path begins reverse Milam Gap Parking Lot, located alongside Skyline Drive. You briefly be a part of the Appalachian Trail earlier than practically instantly turning left onto the blue-marked Mill Prong Trail. After following the riverside path for a short while, you make the primary river crossing, after which you retain proper on the yellow marked Mill Prong Horse Trail. From this level, you stick with the path till you attain Rapidan Camp.

Mill Prong is a incredible hike of average problem. The path distance is simply 3.7 miles return, quick sufficient for households or much less match hikers to deal with. If you fall into these classes, simply permit an additional hour or two to finish the hike.

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Ready for some quickfire details? These are the statistics that it is best to know

Trail distance: 3.7 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation achieve: 223 metersTrailhead: Milam Gap Parking Lot

2. Rose River Loop Trail

Rose River Falls Trail Hikes in Shenandoah National Park
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Rose River Loop Trail is one other lovely riverside hike. However, in contrast to Mill Prong, this route hops alongside totally different waterfalls. The dramatic endpoint is Rose River Falls – one among Shenandoah’s most well-known waterfalls. Hikers can benefit from the Rose River Trail at a sedate tempo, because the average hike is simply 3.8 miles lengthy on a loop path. You ought to permit round two hours to finish the complete hike.

Rose River Falls is a surprising 67-foot waterfall, hidden away in woodland and solely accessible through the loop path. After following Rose River for a lot of the route, reaching the huge waterfall is an appreciated reward. Some individuals select to swim in the waterfalls plunge pool, and also you’ll in all probability be simply persuaded on a heat day. Either manner, pack a picnic and plan to take a seat for some time for a break subsequent to the falls.

Rose RiverTrail Map
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Rose River Loop Trail sits reverse Fishers Gap parking space, which is positioned on Skyline Drive. Once you’ve parked, cross the street and head straight down the fireplace observe, aka Rose River Fire Road. After a couple of minutes, you attain a yellow marked lefthand flip off for the Skyland Big Meadows Horse Trail. Taking this flip, you proceed for simply over half a mile earlier than recognizing the blue-marked Rose River Trail. It is right here that the journey begins, and you’ve got numerous cascades ready for you alongside this route part – together with Rose River Falls itself.

Rose River Trail is a good looking average hike of simply 3.8 miles. The spherical journey is definitely tackled in half a day, so it’s excellent if you’re quick on time however need a rewarding mountaineering expertise. Bring your mountaineering boots and a swimming costume, and also you’ll have a incredible time.

Statistics about this hike:

Trail distance: 4 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation achieve: 267 metersTrailhead: Fishers Gap Overlook Car Park

3. Dark Hollow Falls Trail

Rose River Falls Trail Hikes in Shenandoah National Park Dark Hollow Falls
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Dark Hollow Falls Trail is without doubt one of the most gorgeous waterfall hikes in Shenandoah National Park – particularly in spring when mountain laurel dots the path with pink and autumn when the leaves flip yellow. The 70ft Dark Hollow Falls is without doubt one of the most well-known sights in Shenandoah National Park. The waterfall’s path is considerably of a neighborhood icon in the mountaineering scene.

The identify ‘Dark Hollow Falls Trail’ makes it sound fairly gothic. It is true that the river stays in the shadows for a lot of the day. However, that is far more exaggerated in autumn and winter. During these months, the low lighting is ideal for long-exposure images. It cuts a good looking distinction in opposition to the moist rock and autumnal leaves. Dark Hollow Falls is an atmospheric, scenic quick hike.

Dark Hollow Falls Trail
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Dark Hollow Falls Trailhead is in the parking space, which sits at mile 50.7 on Skyline Drive. Park up and head to the north finish of the parking space. You’ll entry the trailhead, crossing a stream and heading downhill alongside the Hogcamp Branch River. After round half a mile, you’ll emerge at Dark Hollow Falls, and you’ll spend a second admiring the 70ft waterfall up shut.

Walking to Dark Hollow Falls is ideal if you happen to battle with instructions. The out and again path is one route down and one route again – simple and easy for a calming quick stroll. Apart from the uphill return hike, the observe is undemanding and suited to freshmen. Remember that it may be slippery in moist months and that venturing off the path could be dangerous due to all of the hidden drops.

Hiking particulars that it is best to know:

Trail distance: 1.4 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation achieve: 172 metersTrailhead: Dark Hollow Falls Parking Area

4. Upper Hawksbill Trail

Hawksbill trail Shenandoah National Park
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Are you extra of a panorama individual than a waterfall lover? Take our recommendation and climb one among Shanandoah’s mountains. Hawksbill Mountain is without doubt one of the greatest hikes for lovely viewpoints in Shenandoah National Park. It has gorgeous views over the encompassing mountains and Shenandoah Valley. Upper Hawksbill Trail is an thrilling summit hike, but it solely takes round an hour to finish a spherical journey. The Hawksbill summit hike is brief and candy – packing a punch right into a 2.1-mile path.

So, you’re in all probability questioning how troublesome tackling Hawksbill Mountain actually is. The route is a little bit of a mix and has some difficult hike sections, however it’s a simple path for essentially the most half. The solely difficult half is in the final quarter of the hike, the place the trail turns into steep, rocky terrain that you should choose your manner by way of fastidiously. Wear sturdy mountaineering boots, and also you’ll be completely nice. It helps that the path distance is low, and the elevation achieve is comparatively gradual.

Upper Hawksbill Trail Map
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Park up on the Upper Hawksbill parking zone and head straight to the blue-marked Upper Hawksbill Trailhead. The preliminary part is a large path that weaves by way of dense woodland. You then head barely downhill to intersect Hawksbill Fire Road and be a part of the street for the ultimate climb to the summit. This part is essentially the most difficult underfoot, with rocky terrain to navigate.

The National Parks Service maintains the path nicely, however you need to be ready for this part to be somewhat extra tough and prepared than the opposite sections. Walkers emerge triumphantly on the summit and are met with sweeping views of Shenandoah Valley, Old Rag Mountain, and Betty’s Rock. If you feel formidable, you’ll be able to strive time reaching the summit with the dawn for the final word views.

Tackling the Hawksbill summit is superb if you need a hike that provides you with a powerful sense of accomplishment. The route can also be good and quick – excellent for squeezing right into a busy itinerary. Did we point out that Hawksbill Mountain summit is the best level in the nationwide park? Completing this hike is kind of an achievement.

Hiking particulars that it is best to know:

Trail distance: 2.1 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation achieve: 149 metersTrailhead: Upper Hawksbill Trailhead

5. Bearfence Mountain Trail

Bearfence Mountain Trail Shenandoah National Park
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Bearfence Mountain won’t be as massive as Hawksbill, however the peak nonetheless has spectacular summit views. You can attain the summit through the Bearfence Mountain Trail – an intense, single-mile path incorporating a rock scramble. Bearfence Mountain Trail is an thrilling hike for individuals who need an journey and good views.

While not technically difficult, you have to to be glad to strive new issues and get caught in if you’re a newbie. Rock scrambles require endurance, confidence, and a constructive angle. But if you happen to can tick these qualities off, you’ll have an ideal hike. Scrambling up Bearfence Mountain is ideal if you need a memorable journey in Shenandoah National Park.

Bearfence Mountain Trail Map
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Start your hike by parking in Bearfence Mountain Parking Lot, simply off Skyline Drive. You then cross Skyline Drive to the trailhead reverse the parking zone to start the stroll. Bearfence Mountain Trail rapidly adjustments terrain from a steep slope to rock scrambles. From a navigational perspective, it’s a simple hike because you simply preserve heading up in the direction of the summit. Be ready to really feel out of breath, however the climb is so quick that you’ll handle so long as you may have a fundamental health stage. You’ll be richly rewarded, too, because the summit has 360-degree views over the nationwide park.

Bearfence Mountain won’t be the tallest, however it’s the most enjoyable. No different path in Shenandoah National Park has the identical distinctive construction as Bearfence Mountain Trail. The rock scramble is ideal for adventurous freshmen and intermediate hikers.

Hiking particulars that it is best to know:

Trail distance: 1 mileDifficulty: ModerateElevation achieve: 74 metersTrailhead: Bearfence Mountain Parking Lot

6. Stony Man Trail

Stony Man Trail Shenandoah National Park
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Fancy a simple hike? The Stony Man Trail is the one for you. It is without doubt one of the greatest hikes in Shenandoah National Park and is simply 1.5 miles lengthy. Even higher? The path has minimal and gradual elevation achieve, but among the greatest views in the nationwide park. Stony Man is a hike that rewards you for primarily the naked minimal.

Stony Man Trail Hiking Map
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So, let’s check out the route. You begin your hike on the Stony Man Parking Area, becoming a member of the Appalachian Trail briefly earlier than turning off on the blue-marked Stony Man Trail. The path right here is easy, and also you quickly attain the Stony Man Viewpoint. The Stony Man Viewpoint is somewhat rocky outcrop overlooking the valley. Usually, there’s a tiny rainwater pool on the summit. After appreciating the view, you simply retrace your steps to the parking zone since it’s an out-and-back path.

Stony Man Trail is incredible. And, if you need a brief stroll, it’s simply one among your greatest choices. Stony Man is a match made in heaven for mountaineering freshmen with the spectacular summit viewpoint, clearly marked path, and quick path distance.

Hiking particulars that it is best to know:

Trail distance: 1.5 milesDifficulty: EasyElevation achieve: 97 metersTrailhead: Stony Man Parking Area

7. Cedar Run Falls Trail

Cedar Run Falls Shenandoah National Park
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Cedar Run Falls Trail is a difficult waterfall hike that requires round 5 hours to finish. It is greatest to allocate a complete day to this hike, as it’s straightforward to get distracted by the numerous waterfalls and pure swimming swimming pools dotted alongside the out-and-back path. Cedar Run Falls Trail is a enjoyable, longer hike appropriate for these wanting a problem or whole-day exercise.

Many hikers use the path’s well-known pure water slide and problem themselves to some well-liked cliff jumps. You might want to pack swimwear to hitch in (at your individual threat). It is value noting that Cedar Run Trail has skilled some closures over current years. Check the National Park Service web site earlier than visiting to examine if the path is open and welcoming guests.

Cedar Run Falls Trail Hike Map
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Start your hike at Hawksbill Gap Parking Area. Soon you cross a footbridge throughout Cedar Run River, and from this level, you observe the river and spot waterfalls alongside the way in which. Once you move the primary few waterfalls, the route will get very steep and slippery, so that you’ll want glorious footwear. Cedar Run Cascade is close to the endpoint and price reaching if potential.

So, must you select Cedar Run Falls? Yes, if you need a strenuous hike that can push you to your limits. The stroll most closely fits skilled hikers with good technical skill, health, and mountaineering gear. That stated, although, the route is filled with pure sights and really entertaining to hike.

Hiking particulars that it is best to know:

Trail distance: 5.8 milesDifficulty: ChallengingElevation achieve: 685 metersTrailhead: Hawksbill Gap Parking Area

8. Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail Shenandoah National Park
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Now the Appalachian Trail isn’t any stroll in the park. The path really stretches by way of a number of states, Virginia being one among them. If you wished to finish the entire path, you’d want between 5 and 7 months! However, you’ll be able to full Shenandoah’s part of the Appalachian Trail in lower than sixty hours. If you’re keen on multi-day hikes and have a powerful sense of journey, tackling this part of the path is without doubt one of the greatest hikes in Shenandoah National Park.

The path has many shelters alongside the way in which. You can use them for in a single day tenting and filling up water bottles at freshwater faucets. You’ll go to lots of the sights from our different high hikes on this record – together with Stony Man and Loft Mountain (which we are going to cowl shortly). Hiking Shenandoah’s Appalachian Trail is a incredible solution to mix plenty of totally different sights in one expertise.

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If you’re mountaineering the Shenandoah part, the path begins at Dickey Ridge Trailhead in the north of the park. You minimize by way of the nationwide park, passing sights like Swift Run Overlook, Turk Mountain Overlook, and Sawmill Run Overlook earlier than reaching your ultimate waypoint at Beagle Gap. We suggest buying a bodily copy of a path map quite than a digital one, particularly since that is such a long-distance hike.

The Appalachian Trail is the final word hike in Shenandoah National Park. Hikers will should be decided, match, and wholesome.

Hiking particulars that it is best to know:

Trail distance: 115.5 milesDifficulty: ChallengingElevation achieve: 6,939 metersTrailhead: Dickey Ridge Trailhead

9. Lewis Spring Falls Trail

Lewis Spring Falls Trail Shenandoah National Park
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It isn’t any secret; Shenandoah National Park is filled with spectacular waterfalls. Lewis Spring Falls Trail is without doubt one of the greatest waterfall hikes in Shenandoah National Park. Towering 81 toes excessive, Lewis Falls is the crowning jewel of the path – and the fourth tallest waterfall in the nationwide park. The observe is stress-free to hike and has picnic areas dotted alongside the way in which. If you need a hike you could amble alongside leisurely, Lewis Spring Falls is the one for you.

Lewis Spring Falls Trail Hiking Map
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The path begins on the parking zone and instantly takes you into woodland. Turn left on the first path marker after which proper on the blue-marked observe, persevering with by way of dense forest and previous many small waterfalls. At the path endpoint, you’ll attain a big statement deck, and it’s right here that you simply’ll discover the most effective views of the primary waterfall – Lewis Falls.

Keep your eyes out for wildlife as you hike. There are deer and bears to identify, plus plenty of lovely flora, particularly in spring. Lewis Spring Falls Trail is a good hike to immerse your self in nature.

Hiking particulars that it is best to know:

Trail distance: 3.5 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation achieve: 267 metersTrailhead: Milepost 51.2 in the Big Meadows Area

10. South River Falls Trail

South river Falls Shenandoah National Park
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South River Falls is one other movie star on Shenandoah’s waterfall scene. The 83-foot waterfall is an actual sight to behold, and if you happen to love pure sights, this path is a high-reward path to deal with. You’ll observe lovely riverside trails and full one stream crossing – ending on the viewpoint.

The path is simply 2.4 miles in size and takes round an hour and a half to finish. The out-and-back route is the proper morning hike and is definitely squeezed right into a busy itinerary. South River Falls is a good candidate if you need a brief stroll to finish as a stretch of your legs after a strenuous hike the day earlier than.

South River Falls Trail Hiking Map
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The trailhead is a blue-marked path south of the South River Picnic Area. Navigating a mountaineering path has by no means been simpler. Just ignore any turn-offs and keep on South River Falls Trail till you attain the perspective.

This path is totally newbie pleasant. Easy to navigate, quick, and pleasing, South River Falls Trail is a perfect path to stretch your legs and benefit from the sunshine.

Hiking particulars that it is best to know:

Trail distance: 2.4 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation achieve: 230 metersTrailhead: South River Picnic Area

11. Loft Mountain Loop Trail (through Frazier Discovery Trail)

Loft Mountain Loop hike in Shenandoah National Park
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Loft Mountain Loop Trail is one other quick hike to your itinerary. The path is in a useful loop and is a breeze to finish at simply 2 miles in size – appropriate for even essentially the most inexperienced hiker. The observe has a surprising viewpoint on its descent part and quiet, peaceable woodland paths.

Loft Mountain Loop Hike Map
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So, let’s dive straight into some instructions. Starting at Loft Mountain Wayside, be a part of the paved path on the other facet of the street. Almost instantly, you attain a fork in the trail, and from right here, flip left on the blue-marked Frazier Discovery Trail. Keep left and start your uphill stroll, turning left on the second concrete path marker that you simply see. At this level, you’ll begin descending, and it’s this part that you want to preserve your eyes out for the ‘endpoint’ view. The view is attractive – overlooking the nationwide park, surrounding mountains, and woodland.

Continue on the loop to get again, conserving left to remain on the blue marked Blue Spring Trail. Eventually, the path turns into a fireplace street, and also you’ll flip left when it intersects with Skyline Drive to succeed in your place to begin, Loft Mountain Wayside.

Loft Mountain is without doubt one of the greatest hikes in Shenandoah National Park if you need a simple loop path. Sure, it requires a little bit of navigating, however the observe itself is brilliantly untechnical, and the path size is good and quick at solely 2 miles lengthy.

Hiking particulars that it is best to know:

Trail distance: 2 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation achieve: 151 metersTrailhead: Loft Mountain Wayside

12. Whiteoak Canyon Trail

Whiteoak Canyon hike in Shenandoah National Park
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Whiteoak Canyon is our ultimate hike and contains a good looking collection of cascades and waterfalls. Whiteoak Canyon is a wonderful possibility if you’re the form of hiker who loves having heaps to see. You have waterfall after waterfall and numerous plunge swimming pools for swimming. Whiteoak Canyon is the form of dreamy hike you are taking in your summer time holidays.

The fundamental purpose for marking Whiteoak Canyon as a average hike is its path size. The path takes over 5 hours to finish, so that you’ll want a very good stage of health and stamina. Additionally, the observe can turn into slippery and slim in sections. The spray from waterfalls and fallen leaves turns into a difficult mixture when discovering certain footing, so carry sturdy footwear with a very good grip. Otherwise, Whiteoak Canyon Trail is easy and untechnical.

Whiteoak Canyon Hiking Map
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Starting on the Whiteoak Canyon Parking Area, you instantly take the Whiteoak Canyon Trail. Follow the trail alongside the riverside, pausing at scenic spots as you would like alongside the way in which. The endpoint is a rocky ledge; from right here, you’ll be able to take a surprising view of the Upper Falls. If you need, you can even make your manner all the way down to the plunge pool on the base of the Upper Falls, which is well-liked for swimming.

Whiteoak Canyon Trail is one among Shenandoah’s hottest hikes for a lot of good causes. It is enjoyable, comparatively difficult, and has loads of issues to see alongside the way in which.

Hiking particulars that it is best to know:

Trail distance: 9.5 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation achieve: 734 metersTrailhead: Whiteoak Canyon Parking Area

Final Thoughts

Are you able to deal with these greatest hikes in Shenandoah National Park? Shenandoah Valley is without doubt one of the most lovely locations in Virginia, if not the US as a complete. You ought to undoubtedly add it to your record of the greatest locations to go to in the US. You’ll have the pleasure of having fun with among the greatest hikes in the nation.

We hope you may have discovered your match amongst all these glorious mountaineering trails. Whether you select a brief hike or deal with a strenuous path just like the Appalachian Trail, admiring the rolling hills of Shenandoah National Park will probably be memorable.

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