The Turk Mountain trail in Shenandoah National Park is a superb option if you’re hiking with children. A 2.2-mile roundtrip hike, the trail begins at the Turk Gap parking lot on mile marker 94.1 on Skyline Drive.
From the parking lot, cross the road and immediately head south on the Appalachian Trail. A stone marker shows the direction of a number of hiking trails, as well as the distance to certain hiking destinations, including Turk Mountain.
Turk Mountain Trail in Shenandoah National Park
The Turk Mountain trail is no longer than 1.1 miles on the way up. It is, of course, also the same distance downward. The first section of the hike runs gently downhill. After approximately 0.4 miles, the trail begins to climb gradually and will continue to do so until you reach the summit. Near the summit, the trail involves a series of switchbacks. Although sometimes rather steep, the Turk Mountain trail is very short, which is exactly why it’s suitable for both adults and children.
When reaching the marker saying that you’ve reached the Turk Mountain summit, you can actually continue upward for a bit. This involves a fun rock scramble to a pretty spectacular viewpoint. I have to say that I was surprised by the views at this summit, not having expected much from such a short hike. The views are phenomenal, extending across the Shenandoah Valley and taking in other parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the north.
The obvious advantage of a mountain summit hike in Shenandoah National Park is that the return is (mostly) downhill. On the way down, keep your eyes on the trail, as it consists of loose rocks and gravel on certain sections. There might also be black bears in the area—it’s Shenandoah National Park, after all—so keep your eyes out for them as well. They won’t do anything, though; they’re pretty passive and shy.