Hiking

Hiker scaling rocks on the Bearfence rock scramble.

A hiker negotiates the rock scramble on Bearfence.




Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Some trails lead to a waterfall or viewpoint; others penetrate deep into the forest and wilderness.

To help you plan your hiking adventures we have listed on this page popular suggested hikes that include trail descriptions, special features and information about the hikes, as well as maps. We also have printable maps of popular hiking areas in the park available. With such an abundance of trail options you will certainly be able to find something to fit your interest and ability. Maps have suggested ability descriptors determined using the formulas listed below.

Hiking Difficulty
Shenandoah's Hiking Difficulty is determined by a numerical rating using the following formula:

Elevation Gain x 2 x distance (in miles). The product's square root is the numerical rating.

For example, a 10-mile hike that gains 2,200 feet in elevation:

2,200 x 2=4,400

4,400 x 10 = 44,000

Square root of 44,000=209.8

The hike's numerical rating is then tied to one of five descriptors: Easiest, Moderate, Moderately Strenuous, Strenuous, Very Strenuous.

The example hike (above) would be rated Very Strenuous.

There are a few exceptions to the formula's validity, such as Dark Hollow Falls. Although its numeric rating of 36.3 puts it in the "Easiest" range, its steepness over such a short distance warrants a "Moderate."

Easiest
Numerical Rating: less than 50
A hike that is generally suitable for anyone who enjoys walking.
Mostly level or with a slight incline.
Generally less than 3 miles.

Moderate
Numerical Rating: 50-100
A moderate hike is generally suitable for novice hikers who want a bit of a challenge.
The terrain will involve a moderate incline and may have some steeper sections.
Generally 3 to 5 miles.

Moderately Strenuous
Numerical Rating: 100 –150
Moderately Strenuous hikes will generally be challenging for an unconditioned person.
The terrain will involve a steady and often steep incline.
Generally 5 to 8 miles.

Strenuous
Numerical Rating: 150-200
Strenuous hikes will challenge most hikers.
The hike will generally be longer and steeper, but may be deemed "Strenuous" because of the elevation gain.
Generally 7 to 10 miles.

Very Strenuous
Numerical Rating : greater than 200
Only well-conditioned and well-prepared hikers should attempt very strenuous hikes.
The hike will generally be long and steep, and may include rock scrambling, stream crossings, and other challenging terrain.
Generally 8 miles and over.

Pace Average pace is:

  • 1.5 miles per hour for easiest trails.
  • 1.4 mph for moderate trails.
  • 1.3 for moderately strenuous trails.
  • 1.2 for strenuous and very strenuous trails.

This is hiking time and does not take into consideration fitness, exploration, rest, contemplation, etc.

Old Rag Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in the park. It is also the most challenging. Before embarking on this hike visit our Old Rag pages for important information about planning your hike.


 

Suggested Hikes
Here are some some of the favorite day hikes in the park. Included on each page are trail descriptions, special features you should see, and downloadable maps!

MM= Mile markers where trailheads are found along Skyline Drive.


North District - Front Royal to U.S. 211

Fox Hollow MM 4.6
Compton Gap MM 10.4
Overall Run MM 21.1
Overall MM 21.1
Keyser Run MM 19.4


Central District- U.S. 211 to U.S. 33

Marys Rock MM 33.5
Nicholson Hollow MM 38.4
Stony Man MM 39.1
Hawksbill MM 45.6
Blackrock MM 51.2
Milam Gap MM 52.8
South River Falls MM 62.8
Upper Hawksbill MM 46.7
Bearfence MM 56.4



South District- U.S. 33 to U.S. 250 & 1-64

Doyles River MM 81.1
Big Run MM 81.2
Jones Run Falls MM 84.1
Wildcat Ridge MM 92.1
Blackrock Summit MM 84.8
Riprap MM 91.4
Frazier MM 79.5

 

Closures
In order to better protect the fragile plants that live on some of Shenandoah's rock outcrops, the park has implemented some very limited closures. Small areas on Little Stony Man, Hawksbill, and Old Rag are closed to public access.

Printable maps the closures:

Little Stony Man

Hawksbill

Old Rag


Several commercial businesses are permitted to offer guided hiking and hiker support services in Shenandoah National Park.


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