22 Best Hikes in Shenandoah National Park: Easy Family-Friendly Trails to Challenging Climbs

Sunset over the Blue Ridge from Bearfence Mountain, in Shenandoah National Park Virginia

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Looking for some of the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park?

Located in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, this National Park boasts over 500 miles of hiking trails that wind through lush forests, along cascading waterfalls, and up to stunning panoramic viewpoints. 

The diverse terrain ranges from gentle meadows to challenging rocky slopes to suit hikers of different skill levels. 

To help you plan, we feature Shenandoah trails catering to a variety of experiences, from easy family-friendly walks to adrenaline-pumping adventures. 

Be sure to check trail conditions before embarking on your hike, as weather can impact accessibility and safety.

Shenandoah National Park also made it to our list of the best national parks on the East Coast.

Check our Shenandoah National Park visitors guide for more insightful tips.

Best Shenandoah National Park Hikes

To make navigation easier, our list of Shenandoah National Park trails starts at the north end of the park and ends in the south.

If you’re coming from Washington DC, the hikes at the top of this list will be the easiest to reach on a day trip.

Add some of these hikes to your Virginia bucket list!

Fox Hollow Trail

A 1.2-mile loop, the Fox Hollow Trail is near the north end of the park just off Skyline Drive.

The biggest highlight of this hike is the cemetery that hikers will pass by at the north end of the trail.

If you’re looking for easy hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park that allow dogs, this fits the bill!

Lands Run Falls

The Lands Run Falls Trail is only a 1.3-mile round trip from Skyline Drive, making it easy for those who want to see a waterfall without committing to a long hike.

Lands Run Falls is an impressive waterfall in Shenandoah that isn’t as well-known, likely because it does not flow all year.

Check recent weather conditions before you go, but at just over a mile roundtrip, at least you won’t be wasting too much time if the falls aren’t up to par.

Fort Windham Rocks Trail

Near the north end of Shenandoah is one of the easiest hikes in the park.

The Fort Windham Rocks Trail is a simple walk in the woods covering less than two miles of relatively flat trail, making this path great for families.

Sugarloaf Loop

Sugarloaf Loop is a low-traffic trail in Shenandoah.

The scenery comes second to the flora, and it is most enjoyable in spring when visitors can see the wide variety of wildflowers that bloom along the trail.

This is a 5-mile circuit hike that takes an average of 7 hours to complete.

The trail eventually leads to a viewpoint that overlooks the Shenandoah Valley for rewarding views.

Little Devils Stairs Loop

As one of the hardest hikes in Shenandoah, the Little Devils Stairs Loop features an elevation difference of 1,800 feet from top to bottom and follows a tight gorge with several short waterfalls along it.

During the spring, this hike is almost sure to get hikers wet with the number of times that Keyser Run flows back and forth across the trail.

The full loop is 7 miles, and you can choose to take the steep way down the gorge on the way in, or the steep way up the gorge on the way back.

We always opt for the challenging part first, but you choose your own adventure!

Hazel River Falls Trail

With an out-and-back distance of 5.3 miles from Skyline Drive to a relatively short waterfall, the Hazel River Falls trail is sure to satisfy those looking for less popular but still readily achievable Shenandoah hikes.

Considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of around 5 hours to complete the round trip.

The hike will take you to Hazel Falls and you’ll also get to see wildflowers, trees, and birds along the way.

Old Rag Circuit

One of the most popular hikes in Shenandoah is summiting Old Rag via one of its many routes.

This is also one of the most difficult mountains to summit in the park since it stands alone away from the ridge.

The Old Rag Circuit features a 9.3-mile hike with an elevation gain of about 2,348 feet.

This trail is popular with experienced hikers who want to test their skills, with the trail following a narrow ridge with rocks on both sides.

With lots of narrow spaces to squeeze through, boulders to scramble over, and interesting rocky terrain to traverse, it’s one of the more interesting hikes in the East Coast National Parks.

Note that pets are not allowed in Old Rag.

View from the Old Rag Trail in Shenandoah National  Park.

Stony Man Trail

One of the few peaks that rise over 4,000 feet above sea level in Shenandoah National Park is Stony Man Mountain.

The trailhead is not at sea level, so don’t worry about climbing thousands of feet!

Due to the small amount of elevation gain from the trailhead and its proximity to the Skyland Hotel (among others), this trail is also great for families.

At the end of the trail is a large boulder field that overlooks the Shenandoah Valley.

View of the Blue Ridge from cliffs on Stony Man Mountain in Shenandoah National Park Virginia

Millers Head Trail

If you are looking for more options for family-friendly hiking in Shenandoah National Park, try Millers Head Trail.

This route is short and easy at only 1.6 miles round trip and should take around 2 hours to complete.

The trail is mostly flat and leads to an overlook deck at the end of the straight dirt path.

As you ascend, you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and the rolling valleys below. 

Limberlost Trail

Another one of the few trails that don’t allow dogs, the Limberlost Trail is a classic walk in the woods in Virginia’s mountainous parkland.

This trail is great for kids because of an educational brochure hikers can pick up at the beginning of the trail.

The Limberlost Trail also prides itself on being accessible to wheelchairs, so everyone can enjoy it.

The path is forested or wooden boardwalk and it intersects with the Appalachian Trail and the Old Rag Fire Road if you want to walk further.

Lewis Falls Loop

Conveniently located just west of the Big Meadows Campground, the Lewis Falls Trail is a three-mile loop down the west side of the park’s ridge.

Featuring lots of switchbacks, the hike has multiple highlights besides the 81-foot Lewis Falls waterfall.

Enjoy several breaks in the trees that create overlooks along the trail.

The source of Lewis Falls, Lewis Spring is also located along the trail, near the top of the ridge, a rare opportunity to see a waterfall from top to bottom!

Dark Hollow Falls

Another of the few hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park that doesn’t allow pets is the Dark Hollow Falls Trail, due to the intense large rocks that flank and emerge from the trail.

While the hike is short at less than 2 miles, the ascent back to the parking area is known as one of the hardest trails in the park.

This hike during spring is another one where hikers are sure to get wet, so plan ahead!

Bearfence Mountain Trail

Another short, family-friendly hike leads to the top of Bearfence Mountain (Skyline Dr, Elkton).

This mountain peaks at over 3,550 feet above sea level, and the trail’s loop connects to other longer trails in the park that lead down the mountain.

The trail is 1 mile long and considered a moderately challenging route.

Those using the Lewis Mountain picnic area or campground might find this hike convenient due to it being a short distance up the road.

Dogs are also not allowed on this trail.

Sunset over the Blue Ridge from Bearfence Mountain, in Shenandoah National Park Virginia

South River Falls Loop

The South River Falls Loop is one of the hikes in Shenandoah National Park with waterfalls.

This loop is around 3.3 miles long and only descends 600 feet from the parking area on the ridge.

It features the South River Falls, which stands at 83 feet in height on the east side of Shenandoah’s Ridge.

There are also many sets of stairs on the trail instead of steep inclines, which may be easier for some hikers.

Looking up South River Falls, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Hightop Summit

Despite being east of Skyline Drive, the Hightop Summit looks west to the Shenandoah Valley.

This route is 3 miles round trip and climbs 800 feet to the summit.

Just on the other side of the Hightop, a picnic shelter exists in the middle of the woods for stopping for lunch on the trail.

While dogs are allowed, just consider that incline and decline for your four-legged friend.

Frazier Discovery Trail

The Frazier Discovery Trail is a short, flat, 1-mile loop on the south side of the park.

While views, waterfalls, mountain peaks, and creek beds are usually the highlight of Shenandoah’s trails, the Frazier Discovery Trail focuses on something different.

Circling around Loft Mountain’s summit, this trail features the many types of birds that can be seen in Shenandoah.

It’s on Frazier Discovery Trail that you’re most likely to spot bluebirds, hawks, sparrows, and waxwings, among many other species.

Doyles River Falls

Opposite Jones Run and Jones Run Falls is another set of falls, this time on the Doyle River.

With two waterfalls less than a quarter mile apart, the trail is certainly popular among Shenandoah visitors.

The 3.3-mile round-trip trail will take around 2 hours to finish and is considered to be moderately challenging.

There is a pool at the lower falls for hikers to cool off if they desire.

Browns Gap Trails

The Browns Gap set of trails allows hikers to choose the features they hike to.

These trails follow the ridge known as Rocky Top, descend into the valley where Big Run flows, and then climb Brown Mountain.

While these trails can accommodate most hikers, they are more popular with experienced hikers due to their large loops.

Those who want to hike shorter distances will have to opt for an out-and-back hike instead, since trail intersections are far apart.

Jones Run Falls Trail

One of the many Shenandoah hiking trails featuring waterfalls is the Jones Run Falls Trail (Skyline Dr, Crozet)

This trail measures 3 miles out and back and descends 800 feet, at which point you will turn around to hike back up those 800 feet after enjoying views of the 42-foot waterfall.

With the vertical ascent on the second half of this hike, this trail is not recommended for new hikers.

Blackrock Summit

If you’re looking for easy hikes in Shenandoah National Park that are suitable for families, then consider taking the Blackrock Summit Trail.

It measures just a mile round trip and leads to the top of Blackrock Mountain.

This peak overlooks the Shenandoah River Valley to the west and is about 3,100 feet above sea level.

Since this hike is near the southern end of the park, it’s a good spot for those staying in Waynesboro.

Chimney Rock Trail

Sometimes also called the Riprap Trail, Chimney Rock Trail takes hikers to a unique rock that stands above the mountain.

Chimney Rock is a 3.4-mile circuit hike and is considered a moderately challenging route.

Turk Mountain Trail

Slightly more popular, Turk Mountain rises to 2,950 feet above sea level overlooking the Shenandoah Valley.

The trail only climbs 500 feet to reach the summit consisting of a rocky outcropping, making it feel like an accomplishment without being super difficult or requiring hours of your time.

While great for families, the trail is also a perfect spur for those hiking this section of the Appalachian Trail.

For more outdoor adventures in VA, check out the best state parks in Virginia.

Final Thoughts

We hope our list of the best trails in Shenandoah National Park will inspire you to plan for your next hike.

Feel free to share your experience or your favorite spot to hike in Shenandoah in the comments below- we’d love to hear it.

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