5 Wonderful Day Hikes in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park may not be the most well-known of the national parks in America, but it certainly is worth visiting. Situated in the state of Virginia, this park has an unusually long and narrow shape. This is because the park protects a section of the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which is traversed by the absolutely spectacular Skyline Drive. In addition to driving this phenomenal road, there are a couple of other highly popular things to do, including doing some of the scenic Shenandoah National Park day hikes.

The park is crisscrossed by more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) of hiking trails, which includes just over 100 miles (160 kilometers) of the iconic Appalachian Trail. The vast majority of the trailheads lie off Skyline Drive. Some trails lead to a viewport or beautiful waterfall, while other runs down into the valley or deep into the wilderness—40% of the park’s surface area is designated as wilderness.

Hiking is one of the most popular activities in Shenandoah National Park, along with driving, cycling and wildlife watching. I will write many more posts about this particular national park in the upcoming weeks and months, but let’s start off with 5 Shenandoah National Park day hikes.

5 Great Shenandoah National Park Day Hikes

Hawksbill Mountain Summit

The Hawksbill Mountain Summit Trail climbs up to the peak of Shenandoah National Park’s highest mountain at 4,049 feet (1,234 meters).  This fabulous hike can be done as a 1.7-mile (2.7-kilometer) there-and-back hike or a 2.9-mile (4.7-kilometer) loop hike. The trail is lined with rare red spruce, balsam firs and mountain ash. The panoramic views from the top are unforgettable.

Hawksbill Mountain, day hikes in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Looking towards Hawksbill Mountain: Photo on Flickr by Jim Lukach / CC BY 2.0

Dark Hollow Falls

Although it is only a 1.4-mile (2.3-kilometer) roundtrip from the trailhead off the Skyline Drive, the rocky terrain could make this a more challenging hike than you’d expect. The trail ends at the base of Dark Hollow Falls, a 70-foot (21-meter) series of cascades. Black bears and timber rattlesnakes are occasionally spotted along this trail.

Dark Hollow Falls, day hikes in Shenandoah National Park
Dark Hollow Falls: Photo on Flickr by Jim Lukach / CC BY 2.0

Overall Run

The Overall Run Trail is one of the greatest Shenandoah National Park day hikes, leading to the park’s tallest waterfall. These falls are 93 feet high (28 meters). A 5.1-mile (8.2-kilometer) roundtrip, this superb hike is strenuous at times, but so, so rewarding. The views of the valley are extraordinary.

Shenandoah National Park Day Hikes: Overall Run Falls
Overall Run Falls: Photo on Flickr by Tim Lumley / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Compton Peak

A 2.4-mile (3.9-kilometer) so-called T-hike, the Compton Peak Trail leads to both the western and eastern peaks of Compton Peak. The views from both peaks are exceptional and look out over a section of the Shenandoah River and a part of the Skyline Drive.

Compton Peak, day hikes in Shenandoah National Park
Compton Peak: Photo on Flickr by Darren and Brad / CC BY-NC 2.0

Stony Man

1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) long, The Stony Man Trail is one of the most scenic Shenandoah National Park day hikes. This is a fairly easy hike to a rocky ledge, but that doesn’t mean that the views are inferior. In contrary; they are nothing short of spectacular.

Shenandoah National Park Day Hikes: Stony Man
Stony Man: Photo on Flickr by Shane Lin / CC BY-NC 2.0

About Bram

Website: http://www.travel-experience-live.com

Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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  1. Day Trip to Fredericksburg, VA | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] city and its chaos. In just under an hour by car, you can find yourself hiking the trails of the Shenandoah or battling the rapids of the Potomac River at Great Falls. There are also plenty of attractions […]


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