10 Best Hiking Trails in Shenandoah National Park | Vestasoft

Written by Lana Law
Updated Sep 13, 2021

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Shenandoah National Park in Virginia park is a beautiful area for hiking, with mountains and valleys, inspiring lookouts, and high waterfalls. park

Many of the best hikes in the park are relatively short,park although often steep and sometimes intense, and lead to astounding views or impressive natural features.park 

The most famous hiking trail park is the Appalachian Trail, which runs through the park, extending from Maine to Georgia in its entirety.park

Hikers will inevitably park cross this trail or spend time on it as waterfalls they complete many of the hikes in the park.waterfalls

The Appalachian Trail is like a hiking waterfalls highway through Shenandoah National Park, with scenic trails sprouting out to the overlooks and waterfalls.waterfalls 

View from Skyline Drive | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

The main road through the park is mile Skyline Drive, and almost all the best hikes park can be accessed from this route.mile 

The park map indicates mile the location of overlooks and parking areas by mileposts along this road.park

Unlike park many mountain roads that run along the valley floor, mile Skyline Drive runs high along the ridge, with numerous scenic lookout areas.mile 

As a result, many of the hikes begin in a downward hotels direction and end with a serious hike back up to the parking lot.mile 

With limited time or only a single day for hiking,tours it’s best to either choose two or three short hikes, making park sure at least one is to an overlook and another to a waterfall, camping or tackle one of the full-day hikes. park

Select from our list park of the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park.trailhead 

See also: Where to Stay Near Shenandoah National Park trailhead 

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1. Upper Hawksbill Trail shenandoah national park waterfalls

Upper Hawksbill Trail
Upper Hawksbill Trail | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

The view from Hawksbill Mountain is one of the falls best in the park, with two lookout areas park near the summit.falls

This is park the highest point in Shenandoah National Park,falls  and the rocky lookout area at the top clears falls the way for scenic views, with no vegetation to block the vista.falls 

If it’s a busy day falls with many hikers, there is still plenty of room at the top for everyone to spread out, relax for a while, and enjoy the moment.mile 

Near the summit is a day-use stone mile hut with a picnic table that looks out over the valley.river falls

The trail begins at the Upper Hawksbill mile parking area at milepost 46.7 and leads up to the summit, covering 2.1 miles round-trip.river falls

The ground is even and mile follows a fire road part of the way, making it suitable for most hikers.river falls

This is a great falls late afternoon hike that typically takes about 1.5 hours to complete.river falls

If you are traveling with two cars,mile  it’s possible to combine Upper Hawksbill Trail with the Lower Hawksbill Trail by parking a vehicle at each trailhead.shenandoah national park waterfalls

2. Bearfence Mountain Trail national park waterfalls

Bearfence Mountain Trail
Bearfence Mountain Trail | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

The Bearfence Mountain Trail is a list short but challenging hike that waterfalls offers the best views in the park. From the bare, rocky summit, river a 360-degree view extends over the surrounding falls mountains and valleys,falls giving a complete look at the entire area.shenandoah’s

However, this involves a scramble over rock sections,river making it unsuitable for some hikers. national park

These more difficult sections river involve climbing with hands and feet up and over rock ledges.national park

For the average fit hiker, river this is not a problem and well worth the effort, especially considering the loop is only 1.2 miles long.national park

While the typical direction of this hike is clockwise,river some people start out in a counterclockwise direction, using the Appalachian Trail to parking take them to a lookout just short of the peak, with a 180-degree view, parking and then return the same way they came in.national park

This is an easier alternative that does falls not require doing the rock scramble. national park

If you aren’t going to falls go all the way to the top, a better option falls for people who have time to do only one hike to a lookout, waterfalls is to hike the Upper Hawksbill trail or the Stony Man trail instead.national park

The parking area for the falls Bearfence Mountain trail is at approximately milepost 56.5.national park

Pets are not allowed on this trail.national park

3. Dark Hollow Falls Trail shenandoah national park

Dark Hollow Falls Trail
Dark Hollow Falls Trail | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

This is the most popular hiking trail in the park and trail it is always recommended by park staff.waterfalls

This is a short 1.4-mile return hike that trail is suitable for almost everyone and one of the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park for families.

The trail leads trail down from the parking area following a good path waterfalls on mainly even ground, with a few rocky patches.national park

At the bottom, Dark Hollow Falls tumbles trail 70 feet over ledges and into shallow pools right at the trail’s edge,trail making it one of the most accessible waterfalls in the park.national park

Although most people turn around at this point, trail it’s also possible to continue down the trail to where it connects with the Rose River Trail. national park

Where the trails intersect is trail another cascading falls, although it is actually just a trail lower section of Dark Hollow Falls.national park

Regardless of whether you turn trail around at the main lookout point or continue to the hike second falls, the return trip is a steep, uphill walk and will likely trail take almost twice as long to go up as it did to go down.national park

Fortunately, the trail is shaded falls most of the way, so it’s not terribly hot in the midday sun. national park

Total time for falls this hike varies considerably, but most hikers should allow 1.5 hours.national park

The parking area for falls this trail is just north of the Byrd Visitor Center. national park

Despite being falls quite large, the parking lot can fill up quickly on weekends, particularly Saturdays. national park

Fortunately,falls this is a short trail and people are always coming and going.national park

Pets are not allowed.national park

4. Stony Man falls Trail dark hollow falls

Stony Man Trail
Stony Man Trail | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

The second highest point in the park is hike Stony Man peak, and like Hawksbill Mountain,hike it offers a rewarding view from the summit.national park

From the lookout, the view extends over the Shenandoah Valley,hike the town of Luray, and the Massanutten and Allegheny Mountains.national park

This popular trail is quite hike easy and suitable for all levels of hikers.national park

It is also frequently busy,hike but there is a large parking area.jones run falls

The trail rises gradually from hike the parking area at milepost 41.7 until it reaches the small,hike rock-covered lookout area. hike

With the exception of the hike viewing area at the summit, the ground is level.jones run falls

The total distance of this lollipop-shaped hike hike is 1.6 miles, with 340 feet of elevation gain.rose river falls

Total time for this hike is about one hour. Pets are not allowed.rose river falls

5. Lewis Falls Trail river falls trail

Lewis Falls Trail
Lewis Falls Trail | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Lewis Falls plunges 81 feet over a waterfalls rock ledge and is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park.south river falls

How much water is waterfalls flowing over it depends on the time of year and amount of recent rainfall, but it’s a nice hike to do at any time.south river falls

This is a 3.3-mile loop trail that hike follows the Appalachian Trail for a large portion of the hike. doyles river falls

The main feature is Lewis Falls, hike but there are also nice views along the trail in some sections.doyles river falls

Portions of the trail are rocky, uneven, and steep in some areas.river falls trail 

Near the Byrd hike Visitor Center at Big Meadows, the hike can be started at the Big Meadows campground amphitheater or at the Tanners Ridge Overlook, hike just south of the visitor center on Skyline Drive.dark hollow falls

If you start at the Tanners Ridge overlook, hike you have the option of stopping off for lunch at the Big Meadows Lodge for a mid-hike break.dark hollow falls

If you are falls not interested in doing hike the full loop and simply want to see the falls, begin at the Tanners Ridge overlook and do an out-and-back hike to the falls.dark hollow falls

From here, falls it is a 0.9-mile downhill hike to the falls, and returns following the same route,falls for a 1.8-mile round-trip.dark hollow falls

6. Old Rag falls Trail doyles river falls

Old Rag Trail
Old Rag Trail | Mike Petrucci / photo modified

Old Rag Trail is a beautiful and challenging all-day hike, waterfalls but it is not accessible from Skyline Drive. dark hollow falls

This 9.2-mile hike is a favorite hike trail with hikers looking for a longer and more strenuous trail.dark hollow falls

It contains a two- to three-mile hike rock scramble that runs through narrow rock corridors,falls over huge boulders hike and natural stairs, and across uneven, rocky ground.dark hollow falls

But for those who are up for the challenge, hike the trail offers some outstanding scenery, from balanced rocks and hike unique stone formations to outstanding vistas. shenandoah national park

This hike typically waterfall takes around six hours to complete and is rated as falls strenuous by the park.shenandoah national park

One of the main problems with this hike is the access point,waterfall which lies on the east side of Shenandoah National Park. shenandoah national park

It cannot be reached from Skyline drive.shenandoah national park

Visitors staying in the park waterfalls will have to drive either north or south of the park and loop around to the east side, to Route 600, near Nethers. shenandoah national park

Be sure to start early in the day. Pets are not allowed.shenandoah national park

7. Whiteoak falls Canyon Hiking Area

Whiteoak Canyon Hiking Area
Whiteoak Canyon Hiking Area | Karen Blaha / photo modified

The Whiteoak Canyon area offers a variety of hiking opportunities. shenandoah national park

The Cedar Run to Whiteoak circuit is waterfall a popular all-day hike that takes between five and six hours to complete.shenandoah national park

This scenic loop passes eight waterfall waterfalls, including the 86-foot-high Whiteoak Cascades, as well as a number of other unique features.shenandoah national park

At one point on the Cedar Run Trail, waterfall if there is enough water, you can swim and slide down rocks, which can be a refreshing treat on a hot day. shenandoah national park

Some sections of this hike waterfall are very steep, and the circuit is rated as strenuous.shenandoah national park

The parking area off Skyline waterfall Drive is between milepost 45 and 46. shenandoah national park

Alternatively, it is possible to access the Cedar Run waterfall Trail from outside the park on Route 600.shenandoah national park

8. Rose falls River Loop Trail cedar run falls

Rose River Loop Trail
Rose River Loop Trail | Kurt Thomas / photo modified

The Rose River Loop Trail is a waterfall nice option for hot days, as it meanders through large trees waterfall and past waterfalls and streams. shenandoah national park

The two main highlights on the trail waterfall are the Rose River Falls and the lower portion of Dark Hollow Falls.shenandoah national park

If you are hiking in a clockwise direction, waterfall the trail passes Rose River Falls, and then enters an up-and-down shenandoah section of trail that runs beside a stream with small waterfalls,waterfall until it reaches the connection with the Dark Hollow Falls hike.shenandoah national park

At this point, you can take waterfall a small detour up, for a look at the upper portion of Dark Hollow Falls, falls before returning back down and continuing on the Rose River Fire Road.shenandoah national

This is a moderate,falls four-mile circuit, beginning at Fishers Gap Overlook.shenandoah national

9. South falls River Falls waterfall

South River Falls
South River Falls | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

The South River Falls Trail can shenandoah be done as an in-and-out hike to the falls and back, or it can be hiked as a circuit,shenandoah taking the fire road and Appalachian Trail back. shenandoah national

The main observation shenandoah point for the falls is quite a falls distance away from the actual falls, and the view shenandoah here is not nearly as good as it is for other waterfalls in the park.shenandoah national

There is an shenandoah optional 1.4-mile round-trip spur that leads to the base of the falls, which is highly recommended.shenandoah national

The main trail shenandoah follows a meandering creek for a short distance. shenandoah national

This is a good opportunity shenandoah for photographers looking for easy access to small falls and moving water. shenandoah national

It’s possible to walk into the creek and across stones for close-up images.shenandoah national

The trail out and shenandoah back to the South River Falls observation platform is 2.6 miles return. shenandoah national

The full loop,shenandoah including an additional hike to the lower falls, is 4.7 miles. shenandoah national

Parking for this shenandoah trail is at the South River Picnic Area, just north of milepost 63.shenandoah national

10. Sugarloaf Loop Trail waterfalls

Mountain laurel blossoms
Mountain laurel blossoms

National parks have become shenandoah significantly busier in the last couple of years, and this can sometimes lead to overcrowding on the most popular trails. shenandoah national

The secret to shenandoah avoiding this is to find a gem of a trail that has all the things that make the most popular trails busy,falls but without the people.shenandoah national

The Sugarloaf loop trail meets all these criteria. shenandoah national

It’s a Goldilocks kind of trail: not too hard, not too steep, and not too long, meaning that pretty much anyone in moderately good shape can handle it. shenandoah national

Perhaps the best part is that the trail is a loop, so you’ll see new things the entire five miles. The elevation gain is 1,120 feet.shenandoah national

A couple of highlights of the trail are the great view at the top and the spectacular mountain laurel wildflowers blooming in the spring.national park waterfalls

Bird-watchers should bring along their binoculars and keep a keen eye out for any one of the 190 species of birds that call the park home either permanently or on a transitory basis.cedar run falls

The Sugarloaf trail is open year-round, and dogs are allowed (on leash).shenandoah national park waterfall

Where to Stay Near Shenandoah National Park

There are a few towns and cities falls outside of Shenandoah National Park where visitors can choose to base themselves. However, Harrisonburg is one falls of the best positioned cities for accessing the park.falls

The Swift Run Gap Entrance Station at Skyline falls Drive is about a 30-minute drive from Harrisonburg.falls

This is a very central point in the park, falls close to some of the best hiking trails and highlights.falls 

This small city is a university town,falls so there’s a fun vibe and plenty of restaurants. falls

Harrisonburg lacks true luxury hotels,falls and most of the accommodation options here are chain hotels. Below are some highly rated hotels in Harrisonburg: falls 

Luxury & Mid-Range Hotels: falls 

  • The Country Inn & Suites by Radisson falls  is at the south end of town and is easily accessible off Interstate 81. This hotel has large, modern rooms; falls an indoor pool and hot tub; and serves a free, hot breakfast.falls 
  • The Hampton Inn Harrisburg South is next door,falls and rooms here include a fridge, microwave, and falls complimentary cookies in the afternoon. falls There’s also a seasonal outdoor pool and many chain restaurants within walking distance.falls 
  • Ideal for large families or groups, the new Residence Inn falls offers rooms with full kitchens and separate living areas. An indoor pool and Sport Court are on site, falls perfect for basketball, tennis, and volleyball.falls 
  • A well-priced, pet-friendly option falls is The Village Inn. Many rooms have whirlpools and decks, and the inn has a pool and playground area for children.falls 

Budget Hotels:

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