If hiking is your thing, you’ll feel like a young kid on Christmas when it comes to trails in Virginia! As a serial hiker, I thoroughly enjoy Virginia’s trails and believe you will, too! There are exciting trails for all skill levels, and the varying landscape changes, fauna, and flora will have you make frequent returns. Let’s explore hiking in Virginia.
Hiking in Virginia suits beginners, intermediate and seasoned hikers of all ages and seasons. The best trails include Stony Man Via Appalachian Trail, Hawksbill Loop, and Old Rag Mountain Loop. You’ll see chipmunks, snakes, and herons that inhabit forests, icy, muddy, and beautiful landscapes.
In truth, Virginia ranks in the top three places to enjoy hiking, but how do you decide with so many great options? Let’s go on an adventure of our own and explore some most suitable trails for you, and that will get the heart pumping!
Table of Contents
Hiking In Virginia
Virginia has countless trails that offer waterfalls, rivers, rocky climbs, and flat ground, waiting to welcome the hiker. Some areas boast unique growing flora that makes these areas exceptionally popular, while others are great for a social gathering on high-elevated, 360-degree vistas.
Not all the trails permit dogs, but don’t let that deter you from experiencing nature at its finest. You’ll also cross bridges and have the opportunity to spot bird species and chipmunks as you make your way.
Families and beginners will have a fantastic time hiking Stony Man Via Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park. It’s a relatively flat hike with some elevation changes, but it’s incredibly unique because minimal effort produces significantly rewarding sceneries, vistas, and fauna opportunities that make this one of the best family hikes out there.
Intermediates hikers who aim to have a great workout in addition to experiencing eye-opening sceneries will enjoy Hawksbill Loop in Shenandoah National Park. There are interconnecting paths for choosing varying path difficulties, waterfalls, icy patches, and up to 1600 feet elevations that provide both physical and mental obstacles to overcome.
Hiking enthusiasts who live for the thrill and want nothing but the best won’t be able to get enough of Old Rag Mountain Loop in Shenandoah National Park. Prepare for scambling, switchbacks, and climbing over, under, between, and around granite rocks! This trail takes almost 6 hours to complete, even longer depending on your skill level.
Virginia Hiking Trails For The Whole Family
Hiking can be an enriching experience, especially when families come together for a day of fun and adventure! Virginia has trails perfectly suited for beginners and family members of all ages and skill levels. You’ll encounter breathtaking sceneries, traverse varying landscapes and enjoy the sounds of flowing water and chippering birds along the way.
Stony Man Via Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park
Stony Man via Appalachian Path is a 1.5-mile regularly used circle trail in Syria, Virginia, that boasts magnificent wildflowers and is suitable for hikers of all abilities. The route is best utilized from April to September and is excellent for hiking, walking, jogging, and bird viewing. Unfortunately, your canine friends are not allowed on this hiking trail.
Follow the Appalachian Trail to the trail marker from the parking area, where you will join the blue-blazed Stony Man Trail. You then continue until you reach the Appalachian Trail, which will bring you back to the beginning. This trail should take you about 49 minutes to complete.
Because of its simplicity and high-value landscape possibilities, this path is one of the finest. It’s primarily level and well-marked, and it’s lovely for stretching your legs. You can expect to see varying age groups do this hike, ranging from 2 to 80 years old. On the way back, you could even do some trail running.
It is a short trek to the hill, with stunning views from the top! It’s worth it to arrive early to avoid the crowds and experience an immersive hike. Enjoy the views after you’ve reached the summit, but keep in mind that it may get extremely windy, so bring a jacket! Most of the trail has shade, so you will remain cool while enjoying the hike.
Woodland And River Trail Loop, Scotts Run Stream Valley Park
Woodland and River Route Loop is a 2.5-mile widely frequented loop trail with a waterfall near McLean, Virginia. It is suited to hikers of all abilities. You may bring along your dogs on the trek as long as they remain on a leash. The path is best utilized from June to September and provides a variety of activities.
It will take around 1 hour and 12 minutes to finish the hike. This trek includes river vistas, a waterfall, wildflowers, and ruins, but Scott’s Run is most known for the wildflowers that bloom in the spring.
Trailing arbutus, Virginia bluebells, and trillium flowering on the steep hillsides, according to sources, provide a little oasis of uncommon and vulnerable species.
In the mature hardwood forest of enormous oak and beech trees, ancient hemlock and wild cherry trees stand as tall as the oaks. Unique and rare species grow along the precipitous cliffs, in steep valleys, and throughout the mature hardwood forest of colossal oak and beech trees, ancient hemlock, and wild cherry trees that stand as tall as the oaks.
Scotts Run Nature Preserve is a steep, wildflower-strewn stretch of riverbank forests located about four crow-miles northwest of Washington. It’s a genuine haven for songbirds and other animals.
Although the route is relatively easy to follow, for the most part, the higher section is extremely steep, rocky, and challenging to ascend without hiking poles. As a result, if you’re traveling with children or pets, you might want to avoid that section.
Because this location may get rather crowded, especially on weekends, it’s best to arrive early. In fact, don’t be surprised if the parking lot is already full by 08:30 a.m. on a Saturday!
Virginia Hiking Trails For The Intermediate Hiker
Hikers who thrive on challenging trails with the aim of receiving a great workout won’t be disappointed with Virginia’s natural obstacle courses. You can expect to meet with interconnecting paths, chipmunks, snakes, and waterfalls that make your efforts worth the energy spend – plus, you’ll get a great workout!
Hawksbill Loop, Shenandoah National Park
Hawksbill Circular is a moderately used 2.7-mile loop route in Syria, Virginia, featuring magnificent wildflowers. The trail is best utilized from April to November and is generally used for hiking and walking. You are free to bring your dogs on this route as long as they remain on a leash. It takes around 1 hour and 36 minutes to finish this path.
The Appalachian Trail system’s Hawksbill Gap Loop walk is short and rugged. The AT is a white-blazed trail that goes to Hawksbill peak, offering panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley. The parking area at Hawksbill Gap might be challenging to find, so arrive early.
Atop Hawksbill, there are several waterfalls and a spectacular panoramic vista. The Appalachian Trail segment is rough in places and will prove considerably challenging. On the other hand, nature will need you to exert great effort to appreciate this route’s sights!
While the terrain is not dangerously steep for the most part, occasional ascents can be nerve-wracking. The most exemplary view, according to hikers, is from the rocks on the upper Salamander Trail, just before it links to the Summit Trail. This route can get icy in the winter, so hikers should bring a pair of microspikes.
If you wish to start at Hawksbill Gap, it’s simple to identify the link between Hawksbill Gap and Upper Hawksbill, but not the AT circle. Upper Hawksbill is more gradual and lacks enormous boulders on the trail, but it is also longer.
Hawksbill Gap is a lot shorter, but it’s a lot steeper! And the trail contains a lot of giant boulders, which youngsters may find challenging to climb if they aren’t used to it.
Cascades Falls Trail, Jefferson National Forest
Cascades Falls Route is a moderately frequented 4-mile out-and-back trail near Pembroke, Virginia, with a waterfall. The path is open all year and is excellent for hiking. You are welcome to bring your canine pals, but please keep them on a leash.
It takes roughly 2 hours to finish this path. Within Jefferson National Forest, the Cascades National Recreation Trail leads to a 66-foot waterfall along a shady mountain watercourse.
Hiking two miles down the lower route along Little Stony Creek will get you to the lower falls. Carrying on for another two miles uphill will get you to the New River Valley, where you can expect to see 700 cliffs at Barneys Wall at an astounding 1600 feet of elevation!
The bridge crossing along the right bank of the river is one of the most picturesque moments of the trail as it runs all along the river. There may be some slippery areas, particularly near the falls, but they are easily manageable and well worth the effort.
Expect to see moss and speckled lichen rocks, stepping stones, and fallen leaves, all of which contribute to a unique immersive experience and a terrific hiking experience. Furthermore, if you visit in early November, the red, orange and yellow leaves that adorn the forest floor will delight you.
Depending on your degree of expertise, talent, and desire for adventure, there are several options for getting there. You may choose to walk up the gravel road or use the meandering stairways and bridges. Both pathways are well worth the effort, with herons, chipmunks, trout, and even a few harmless snakes inhabiting the area.
Virginia Hiking Trails For The Born Mountaineer
Seasoned hikers will find no shortage of challenging hikes scattered among Virginia’s natural sceneries. They promise to test your endurance and mental strength as you traverse their paths, much more so than other trails, ensure you come prepared!
Old Rag Mountain Loop, Shenandoah National Park
This 5.5-mile circuit track near Etlan, Virginia, is typically an arduous trek. It’s open all year, but the ideal months to go are May through October. Because this is a famous hiking region, you’ll almost certainly run into other people while exploring. Additionally, this trail does not permit you to bring your canine friends on this walk.
The complete circle takes around 5 hours and 38 minutes to trek. This trek has numerous obstacles to conquer; your ascent to the top involves several rocky switchbacks so that you won’t climb straight up, but the pathways are still steep. The descent is a more gentle incline that terminates on a fire track, and it will take significantly longer than the ascent.
The journey starts with a one-mile walk up the road to the Old Rag parking lot. Before reaching the boulder scramble part, turn left onto the Ridge Trail and begin your two-mile ascent over switchbacks.
Throughout the path, there are handwritten numbers beneath the blue trail blazes. During the scramble, you’ll be climbing up, down, in between, around, and below granite boulders. Ensure you keep your eyes wide open for the blue blazes when rock scrambling since they might appear in unexpected locations.
When you notice the brown ‘Old Rag Mountain’ sign, you’ve arrived at the Old Rag Summit. Before commencing your descent back down the Saddle Trail, find a nice rock with a fantastic 360-degree outlook for your lunch site.
You’ll pass two shelters while rock jumping down. The Byrds Nest Shelter is the first stop, followed by the Old Rag Shelter before reaching a fork in the road. Return to the parking area by staying to your right on the Weakley Hollow Fire Road for about four miles. You’ll witness Brokenback Run, which flows into the Hughes River, as well as lovely woodlands.
Hiking Old Rag is a journey that should be on the bucket list of every Virginia hiker. This hike is a strenuous trail that will take many hours to complete most people. It is crucial to bring a lot of water with you on your excursion.
For its effort-for-scenery value, beginners and families can enjoy Stony Man Via Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park. Hiking enthusiasts can find considerable beauty and challenge at Hawksbill Loop in Shenandoah National Park and Old Rag Mountain Loop in Shenandoah National Park.