The wild and less seen side of Shenandoah awaits those who leave Skyline Drive behind, and take to their feet. The rewards increase with every footfall beneath the stately oaks to rocky vista points and into deep canyons where waterfalls roar among old-growth trees spared by the logger’s axe. In other places, your footsteps lead past what once were hardscrabble farms -- Shenandoah’s pioneer past. Discover both the human and natural history of Shenandoah. A foray into the backcountry complements your views from Skyline Drive.
Here are some recommended walks and hikes, providing a sample of the myriad walking opportunities here:
Shenandoah Hikes under 2.5 Miles
Fox Hollow Trail
Easy access, old farmsteads and a good view create a hike that sums up much of what Shenandoah National Park offers. Visit the old Fox Farm, rich with pioneer vestiges.
An easy hike with two viewpoints. The east viewpoint is a geologic phenomenon called columnar jointing, which is caused by rapid cooling of molten lava. The west viewpoint is of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.
This favorite hike starts high and gets to the top of Shenandoah. Traverse a “sky island” of Canadian-type forest. Enjoy the nearly 360-degree view from the summit.
Loop around Blackrock using the Appalachian Trail to reach an incredible rock jumble with views extending for miles. Ambitious visitors will scramble among the boulders
Shenandoah Sampler Hikes from 2.5 to 8 Miles
Big Devils Stairs Vista
Start by passing a shelter used by long-distance hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Join the nearly level Bluff Trail to the Big Devils Stairs canyon rim for a great view, minus crowds.
Lewis Spring Falls Loop
Walk Lewis Spring Fire Road, then northbound on the AT, climbing to Blackrock (the north Blackrock, there are two Blackrocks at Shenandoah) and its stellar views. View more rock features, then visit loud and dramatic Lewis Spring Falls.
Hazeltop/Rapidan Camp Loop
Walk over Hazeltop, third highest peak in the park, and then follow Laurel Prong down to Rapidan Camp, the woodland getaway for President Herbert Hoover. Take a self-guided interpretive tour then view Big Rock Falls along the way to the trailhead.
Falls Loop from Browns Gap
The loop passes three major cataracts and numerous other cascades as it explores two boulder-strewn canyons linked by the Appalachian Trail. Find old-growth tulip trees with impressive girths.
Shenandoah Sampler Hikes more than 8 Miles
Neighbor Mountain/Jeremys Run Loop
Traverse a pleasant stretch of the Appalachian Trail, then join secluded Neighbor Mountain Trail, snatching some views to reach ultra scenic Jeremys Run. Criss-cross to the upper valley of Jeremys Run, climbing to the trailhead.
Old Rag Loop (Starts on east side of park)
This well-loved Shenandoah classic is difficult. Ascend the north slope of Old Rag, emerging onto a massive granite slab, revealing energizing panoramas. Navigate a boulder maze, with some bona fide rock scrambling to reach the summit with more views. Return to the base of the mountain via Brokenback Run.
Rocky Mountain Loop
Bring your phone to capture copious vistas. Walk over Rocky Mountain and scenery reminiscent of the West, with stone spires rising from the forest before ending up at the park’s largest watercourse, Big Run. Follow Big Run and Rocky Mountain Run back to the high country.