TRIP IDEA

Central District Hikes in Shenandoah

Shenandoah National Park

A cascading stream in the forest.
Topic(s) Geology, Rock Landscapes and Features, Trails, Waterfalls, Mountains, Scenic Views
Activities Hiking
Type Active, Inspirational, Outdoors
Parks Shenandoah National Park

Whether you are looking for a short hike through the forest or a destination hike leading to peaks or waterfalls, the Central District of Shenandoah National Park offers many options for recreation and relaxation.


Directions

The Central District of Shenandoah National Park spans from the Thornton Gap Entrance Station at U.S. Rt. 211 to the Swift Run Gap Entrance Station at U.S. Rt. 33. Most hikes are accessible via Skyline Drive, though some, such as Whiteoak Canyon and Old Rag are accessible from the park boundary. Locations are given by mile markers along Skyline Drive. Learn more about directions to Shenandoah and maps of the Park.

Facilities and Services

Most facilities are services are open from spring to fall and close during the winter. Make sure to check operating hours and seasons before your trip.

• Food and water: Options include the dining rooms at Big Meadows Lodge and Skyland Resort. The Big Meadows Wayside, next to Byrd Visitor Center, and cafe inside Skyland offer more casual fare. Picnic grounds in the Central District include Pinnacles (mile 36.7), Big Meadows (mile 51.2), Lewis Mountain (mile 57.5) and South River (mile 62.8).
• Restrooms: Restroom facilities are available at Byrd Visitor Center, Skyland Resort, as well as all picnic grounds. Some facilities close for the winter season.
• Camping and lodging: Campgrounds in the Central District include Big Meadows Campground and Lewis Mountain Campground. Lodging options are available at Skyland, Big Meadows, and Lewis Mountain. Learn more about lodging and camping.

Featured Hikes
  • Shenandoah National Park

    Hike Dark Hollow Falls

    • Activity Fee: Yes
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Hiking
    • Pets: No
    • Location: Skyline Drive mile 50.7
    • Duration: 1–5 Hours
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Day, Dawn, Dusk
    A cascading waterfall during autumn.

    Hike the popular 1.4 mile Dark Hollow Falls Trail to a beautiful cascading waterfall in the forest. This moderate out-and-back trail has some steep sections, but is rewarding once you look upon the falls. For an alternate route, follow the 4 mile Rose River Loop from Fishers Gap Overlook. Always be careful and use caution when hiking around waterfalls.

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  • Shenandoah National Park

    Hike Stony Man

    • Activity Fee: Yes
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Hiking
    • Pets: No
    • Location: Skyline Drive mile 41.7
    • Duration: 1–3 Hours
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Day, Dawn, Dusk
    Mountains with autumn colors scattered through the green trees. Rock outcrops are visible.

    The iconic Stony Man viewpoint in Shenandoah National Park can be reached through an easy 1.6 mile hike. Once at the view, you will to look out over the Blue Ridge Mountains and into Shenandoah Valley below.

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  • Shenandoah National Park

    Hike Marys Rock

    • Activity Fee: Yes
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Hiking
    • Pets: Yes
    • Location: Panorama (Skyline Drive mile 31.6) or Meadow Spring (Skyline Drive mile 33.5)
    • Duration: 3–4 Hours
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Day, Dawn, Dusk
    Overlooking a mountain top with snow covered rocks and a clear sky.

    This rocky summit hike makes for a wonderful sunset or day hike. The ascent to Marys Rock can be either a 2.9 or 3.7 mile trek through the forest and a portion of the Appalachian Trail with many viewpoints at the higher elevations leading to the summit.

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  • Shenandoah National Park

    Hike Bearfence

    • Activity Fee: Yes
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Hiking
    • Pets: No
    • Location: Skyline Drive mile 56.4
    • Duration: 45–90 Minutes
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Day, Dawn, Dusk
    A pile of rock with a narrow opening and painted blazes to lead hikers.

    Though only 1 mile, Bearfence offers a short but challenging rock scramble and a viewpoint. Bearfence requires that you use maneuver up and around boulders, using your hands, feet, and whole body. Once at the top, you will be greeted with a 360-degree view of Shenandoah National Park and the surrounding valleys and mountains.

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  • Shenandoah National Park

    Hike Limberlost

    • Activity Fee: Yes
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Hiking
    • Pets: No
    • Location: Skyline Drive mile 43
    • Duration: 1–2 Hours
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Day, Dawn, Dusk
    View of a paved, curving trail surrounded by blooming pink flowers in a forest.

    Limberlost Trail is a fully accessible trail in the Central District of Shenandoah National Park. Walk this 1.3 mile loop through a covered forest. See a columnar jointing geological feature and in the spring see the blooming mountain laurel that surrounds the trail.

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  • Shenandoah National Park

    Hike Whiteoak Canyon

    • Activity Fee: Yes
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Hiking
    • Pets: Yes
    • Location: Varies
    • Duration: 2–7 Hours
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    • Time of Day: Day, Dawn, Dusk
    Cascades traversing rock formations during autumn.

    Whiteoak Canyon has six waterfalls ranging from 35 to 86 feet making this trail one of the most popular places to hike in Shenandoah National Park. With swimming holes, many smaller cascades along the way, and surrounded by the forest canopy, Whiteoak Canyon can be a great place for a 2 mile hike to the lower falls or a longer full day hike to all six falls.

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Last updated: December 15, 2017