8 Best Hikes in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park Overview

Below you will find the 8 best hikes in Shenandoah National Park! Shenandoah is located in Virginia along the Blue Ridge Mountains and is about 1.5 hours from Washington D.C. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails here including a 100-plus miles of the Appalachian Trail. The AT runs parallel along the park’s main road, Skyline Drive. Most of the trailheads for the hikes listed below can be accessed straight from this road.

Nearest Metro AreaCharlottesville, VA
Area Size199,173 acres
EstablishedDecember 26, 1935
Hiking Trails516 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Shenandoah National Park

Bearfence Mountain Trail
Bearfence Mountain sunset [explored]
Bearfence Mountain sunset, Photo by Lukas Schlagenhauf

Steep but short climb over rocks to an expansive 360 degree view of the park. Make sure you have a good pair of shoes for the climb. The trailhead is located at mile marker 56.4 on Skyline Drive.

  • 1.2 miles loop
  • 250′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Hawksbill Gap Loop
Lower Hawksbill Trail - Shenandoah National Park - Luray VA
Lower Hawksbill Trail, Photo by Esther Westerveld

This loop takes you to the summit of Hawksbill Mountain which is the largest peak in the park. You can also reach the summit from the 1.7 mile Lower Hawksbill Trail or the 2.1 mile Upper Hawksbill Trail. The trailhead is located at mile marker 45.5 on Skyline Drive.

  • 2.9 mile loop
  • 850′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Old Rag Trail
Old Rag Summit
Old Rag Summit, Photo by Shenandoah National Park

This is popularly considered the best hike in the entire park and would be #1 on the list if the trailhead was more easily accessible. Take the Ridge Trail through narrow passages and up granite boulders to the summit for some incredible views.

  • 9.2 mile loop
  • 2400′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Dark Hollow Falls Trail
Early Fall at Dark Hollow Falls
Early Fall at Dark Hollow Falls, Photo by Shenandoah National Park

Short trail that leads to the 70′ cascading waterfalls. As it is so close to Skyline Drive, this trail usually draws quite the crowd. The trailhead is located at mile marker 50.7.

  • 1.4 miles out and back
  • 500′ elevation gain
  • Easy
Stony Man Nature Trail
Stony Man View
Stony Man View, Photo by Shenandoah National Park

Short and pretty easy hike to the park’s 2nd tallest peak. Similar to the hike to the summit of Hawksbill Mountain, Stony Man also offers beautiful panoramic views. The trailhead is located at mile marker 41.7 off Skyline Drive and the Appalachian Trail.

  • 1.6 mile loop
  • 300′ elevation gain
  • Easy
Cedar Run / Whiteoak Circuit
Whiteoak Canyon
Whiteoak Canyon, Photo by Shenandoah National Park

One of the farther hikes in the park, this loop combines Cedar Run Trail with Whiteoak Canyon Trail and takes you past numerous waterfalls. Going counter-clockwise is your best bet. The trailhead is located at mile marker 42.6 on Skyline Drive.

  • 8.2 mile loop
  • 2500′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Limberlost Trail
Skyland Stable and Limberlost
Skyland Stable and Limberlost, Photo by TheTurducken

Before or after you hike the Cedar Run – Whiteoak Circuit, make sure you take a walk on this winding trail. The pressed gravel trail makes it an easy hike for all ages and experience levels. The trailhead is located at mile marker 43.

  • 1.7 mile loop
  • 100′ elevation gain
  • Easy
Mary’s Rock
Shenandoah National Park
Mary’s Rock Tunnel, Photo by Jasperdo

Mary’s Rock is an amazing view point overlooking Thorton Gap and Skyline Drive. You can reach the summit from 2 different ways but I recommend taking the trailhead located at the Meadow Springs parking area at mile marker 32.7 on Skyline Drive.

  • 2.9 miles out and back
  • 800′ elevation gain
  • Moderate

Featured Image: Sunset View from Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, Photo by Steevven1

Don’t forget to stock up on the essentials before you plan your next hiking or camping trip! We have recommendations on: