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Virginia’s 10 best summer hiking trails

Virginia’s 10 best summer hiking trails

Photo by photo nic on Unsplash

By Ava Edwards

July 2, 2024

Lace up your boots: We’re taking an in-depth look at some of the commonwealth’s best hiking trails. From beginner hills to extreme climbs, you’ll be ready to hit the path with these walks.

Virginia is the home of some of the best and most exhilarating hiking trails. With 2,339 hiking trails, the commonwealth has a variety of trails for enthusiasts to choose from.

Are you looking for a hike for the whole family? Virginia has approximately 1,257 family-friendly trails. Need a more accessible trail? Virginia also has 250 of those so that all may feel included.

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most popular trails in the United States. The wooded thoroughfare runs from Georgia to Maine, but a quarter of the trail runs through Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Some of Virginia’s most popular hiking trails are along sections of the 544 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Many other popular trails in the state are located in Shenandoah National Park—and hiking enthusiasts rave about the park’s beautiful views, unique wildlife, and accessibility to multiple trailheads.

Alltrails.com lists these top 10 hiking trails in Virginia and has all the info you need before hitting the trails, like hike length, difficulty, and more. Here are Virginia’s top 10 best hiking trails.

  1. Old Rag Mountain Loop (Shenandoah National Park)

Old Rag Mountain Loop is a 9.4-mile trail surrounding the mountainside. Located near Etlan, this trail is challenging according to hikers and AllTrail’s difficulty ranking. This trail is also relatively popular, so expect to see fellow hikers on your path. However, this trail is not pet-friendly due to its difficult terrain, so keep the dogs at home. 

  1. McAfee Knob via Appalachian Trail (McAfee Knob Trailhead)

Near Salem, this 7.8-mile hike is a part of the Appalachian Trail and takes about four hours to finish. This hike is of moderate difficulty and is also a spot for camping and backpacking. This trail is rewarding in part because of its views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and even better, leashed pets are allowed on the trail. 

  1. Hawksbill Loop Trail (Shenandoah National Park)

Hawksbill Loop is near Syria and is a moderately difficult hike. This trail is only about 2.7 miles if you’re looking for something faster than the longer trails. While short, this hike offers an exciting array of terrain, inclines, and plenty of shade for the hotter hiking days. Many hikers say the trail is worth visiting for the views alone. 

  1. Rose River Trail (Shenandoah National Park)

Also located near Syria, the Rose River Trail is another moderate-difficulty trail in Shenandoah National Park. This trail features beautiful waterfalls and pools. Many suggest taking a detour to get a better view of the majestic Dark Hollow Falls. The length of this hike is 3.8 miles, and pets are welcome on a leash. 

  1. Dark Hollow Falls Trail (Shenandoah National Park)

Dark Hollow Falls is the main attraction of this trail, as the stunning waterfall keeps hikers coming back again and again. This moderately difficult hike includes steep inclines, rocky terrain, and mud. The hike is 1.6 miles long and takes about an hour to complete. Due to potentially slippery conditions, pets are not allowed on this trail. 

  1. Stony Man via Appalachian Trail (Shenandoah National Park)

If you’re looking for a quick but exciting hike, look no further than the Stony Man trail. Like other Appalachian trails, hikers get a wonderful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Located near Syria, this trail is only 1.5 miles long and takes 45 minutes to finish. While it’s a short and moderately difficult hike, the terrain is not safe for pets, so keep the furry friends at home.

  1. Marys Rock via Appalachian Trail North Approach (Shenandoah National Park)

Located near Sperryville, the Marys Rock trail is one of the harder trails on AllTrail’s list. Most of this hike is uphill, with an elevation gain of 1,210 feet. The length of this hike is 3.4 miles, and while this hike is difficult, hikers say the view at the top of the trail is worth the work. Pets are welcome on this trail, as long as they’re up for a steep hike. 

  1. Raven Rocks (via Appalachian Trail)

The Raven Rocks trail gets its name from its high elevation, as this trail features many inclines and declines. This 5.7-mile-long hike is described as a roller coaster by many, but the terrain is manageable for experienced hikers. The average time spent on this hike is three hours, so carve out some time to finish Raven Rocks. While this trail is hard, the view is described as more than worth it. Pets are welcome on this trail with a leash. 

  1. Hawksbill Summit Trail (Shenandoah National Park)

The Hawksbill Summit trail is considered a nice warm-up for long-distance hikers. The trail is known for its extensive bird population, which makes it popular among bird watchers. This trail is about 1.6 miles long and takes about an hour to complete. The views in front of the summit are ravishing and worth the moderately difficult hike; pets are also welcome on a leash. 

  1. Bearfence Mountain Trail (Shenandoah National Park)

Bearfence Mountain Trail is a moderate and short hike up, well, a mountain. Hikers recommend grippy shoes to help with the mix of easy and difficult terrain. This hike, while short, leads to a 360-degree view of the mountains at the top of the summit. Because of the high elevation, dogs and other pets are not allowed on this hike.

  • Ava Edwards

    Ava is an up-and-coming journalist who recently graduated from William & Mary with a degree in English. She's written for news publications such as her school's newspaper, The Flat Hat, and Hampton Roads' WAVY-TV 10. As a lifelong Virginia resident, she looks forward to informing her community on the latest information and events.

CATEGORIES: THINGS TO DO
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