Skyline Drive, which traverses Shenandoah National Park vertically, is home to nearly all of the park’s most notable attractions. The hike up Old Rag Mountain is the exception that proves the rule and continues to be the most popular in the park.
There is a plethora of options for those looking for a less strenuous hike, including scenic strolls through flower fields and sweeping vistas from the top of a mountain. The waterfalls at Dark Hollow, Rose, and Doyles rivers are all beautiful spots for photographs.
For more information and personalized recommendations, park visitors can stop by either the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center or the Harry F. Byrd, Sr. Visitor Center and speak with one of the park’s knowledgeable rangers.
Best Places to Visit in Shenandoah National Park
Don’t forget that vehicle entry passes are valid for a full week, so you can schedule an entire week or weekend of exploration in Shenandoah National Park.
1. Drive Skyline
This is, without a doubt, the top activity in all of Shenandoah. The park’s spine, Skyline Drive, follows the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
This scenic drive provides access to the park’s many attractions, including scenic overlooks, hiking trails, historic sites, and visitor centers.
2. Cave in at Dark Hollow
Many visitors to Shenandoah National Park choose to explore the area around Dark Hollow Falls. You can reach one of the park’s tallest waterfalls via this moderately difficult hike.
3. MT. Bear Fence
This trail is the most exciting one in all of Shenandoah. It’s perfect for older kids and adults because it’s short, sweet, and involves a little bit of rock scrambling.
The total distance of this trail is only 2.1 km. Bearfence Mountain features a short, vertical rock wall and a series of enormous, jagged boulders that must be scrambled in order to reach the summit.
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You can reach the waterfall’s base from the parking lot by following the trail downhill. There are numerous picturesque locations at the waterfall’s base. You’ll have to walk uphill to get to your car.
4. Stoic Guy
Stony Man, at an elevation of 4,040 feet, is the park’s second-highest peak, behind only Hawksbill.
The trail is short and straightforward, making it suitable for hikers of varying ages and fitness levels. However, due to its popularity, the trail is often overrun with hikers.
5. Hawksbill Mountain
Hawksbill Mountain, located in Shenandoah National Park, is the park’s highest point at 4,049 feet. The Upper Hawksbill Trail is the most direct and least time-consuming route here. Please use the parking lot above Hawksbill. The hike from here is 2.2 miles in total. The ascent to the peak involves a 500-foot climb in altitude.
The Lower Hawksbill Trail also leads up to the peak of Hawksbill Mountain. Even though it’s only 1.5 miles round trip, the elevation gain makes this route much more strenuous.
6. Rose River Droplets
In Shenandoah National Park, this trail is a must if you want to see multiple waterfalls in a single outing.
The total distance of this loop is 4 miles. From Skyline Drive, hikers can descend to Rose River Falls and then return via the Hogcamp Branch, which features numerous waterfalls and pools of water. While I appreciate seeing Rose River Falls, I enjoy the hike along Hogcamp Branch the most.
7. Rock of Mary
When visiting Shenandoah National Park, this is one of my go-to vantage points. The hike is longer and more challenging than others on this list, but the reward is worth it: a stunning panorama.
Marys Rock can be reached in a couple of different ways. The Appalachian Trail can be found along both of these paths.
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Marys Rock South is the quicker and less strenuous way to the top. The total round-trip distance is 2.6 miles, with 800 feet of elevation gain. Marys Rock North is more extensive and challenging. There is 1,200 feet of elevation gain over the course of 3.6 miles.
8. Old Rag
We enjoy hiking Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park the most. This is the most challenging hike on our entire list.
This hike is a moderate ascent through the woods that will bring you to the foot of Old Rag. Large rocks must be climbed in order to reach the peak of Old Rag. The rock scrambling is the best part of the hike because it is exciting and demanding. You can see the entirety of the park from the peak of Old Rag.
9. Do Some Appalachian Trail Hiking
The Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Maine to Georgia, is the longest hiking trail in the world. It spans 14 different states over its 2193-mile length.
Shenandoah National Park is home to 101 miles of the 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail (AT). The AT generally runs parallel to Skyline Drive.
10. Climb to the Top of Blackrock
The rocky vantage point overlooks the Shenandoah Valley, Massanutten Mountain, and more after a moderately steep ascent of 1 mile and 175 feet. The Appalachian Trail crosses this path at one point.
The Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia are protected in Shenandoah National Park. The main route through the park is Skyline Drive, a winding road that travels 105 miles from north to south. There are 500 miles of hiking trails that allow visitors to explore the park beyond Skyline Drive.