Spring is the perfect time to get outdoors in Virginia. The cool mornings and not too hot afternoons of springtime are just right for hiking.
Whether you’re a serious backpacker planning a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail or a weekend roamer who enjoys being outdoors, there’s a hike that’s just right for you.
Thousands of hikers attempt to thru-hike the 2,185 mile Appalachian Trail each year, but only about one in four completes the hike. Many more enjoy day hikes or shorter sections hikes on the AT. About 550 miles of the AT are in Virginia. The trail begins at Springer Mountain, Georgia and ends at Katahdin, Maine.
McAfee Knob is one of the most popular day hikes and the most photographed site along the Appalachian Trail. Located near Roanoke off Route 311, the Knob has an almost 270-degree panorama of the Catawba Valley and North Mountain to the west, Tinker Cliffs to the north and the Roanoke Valley to the east.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation website is the ideal starting point to find great hikes across the beautiful state of Virginia.
Enjoy a scenic drive and hiking opportunities on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which meanders 469 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
There are over 360 miles of trails along the Parkway. From easy to strenuous, one of these trails is just right for you. Pick up a hiking guide at a Parkway Visitor Center for more trails to hike.
Easy Parkway Trails
Farm Museum Trail is a .25 mile self-guided trail from the Humpback Visitor Center at MP 5.9.
James River Trail is a .2 mile self-guided trail to a display with canal locks at MP 63.6.
Thunder Ridge Trail is a .1 mile trail to a great view of Arnold Valley at MP 74.7.
Abbott Lake Trail is a 1.0 mile loop trail around Abbott Lake at MP 85.7 at the Peaks of Otter.
Roanoke River Trail is a .35 mile trail with views of the Roanoke River at MP 114.9.
Mabry Mill Trail is a .5 mile trail to Mabry Mill and other displays depicting rural life at MP 176.2.
Moderate Parkway Trails
White Rock Falls Trail is a .9 mile trail following a stream to a small falls at MP 20.0.
Yankee Horse is a .2 mile trail to a logging railroad display and small waterfall at MP 34.4.
Indian Gap is a .3 mile trail to a huge Indian Rocks display and a seasonal rhododendron display at MP 47.5.
Otter Lake Trail is a .8 mile trail around Otter Lake at MP 63.1.
Fallingwater Cascades Trail is a 1.6 mile National Recreation Trail to a waterfall at MP 83.1.
At the Peaks of Otter, there are several moderate trails, including Elk Run Trail (.8 mile), Johnson Farm Loop Trail (2.1 miles) and Harkening Hill Trail (3.3 miles) at MP 85.9.
Black Ridge Trail is a 3.1 mile loop trail starting at Rocky Knob Visitor Center at MP 169.0.
Strenuous Parkway Trails
Humpback Rocks Trail is a favorite on the north end of the Parkway at MP 6.0. The 2.0 mile trail takes you to spectacular views from the Humpback Rocks at the top.
Apple Orchard Falls Trail is a 1.2 mile National Recreation Trail starting at Sunset Field Overlook and leading to Apple Orchard Falls at MP 78.4.
Sharp Top Trail is one of the most popular hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Start at MP 86.0 for the 1.5 mile hike to the top of Sharp Top Mountain, where you’ll enjoy 360-degree panoramic views.
Rock Castle Gorge Trail is 10.8 mile loop trail from the Rocky Knob Campground into the Gorge at MP 167.1.
There are lots of hikes available off the 105-mile Skyline Drive, which takes you through the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park.
The Skyline Drive has four entrances between Front Royal and Waynesboro. You’ll receive a basic park guide when you enter the Skyline Drive. For more hiking trails, pick up a small hiking guide book at one of the Visitor Centers.
One of Shenandoah National Park’s favorite hikes is Old Rag Mountain, The parking area is located near Nethers on Route 600. Enjoy challenging rock scrambles and pretty views on the 8.0 mile hike.
North District Hikes
Compton Peak Trail begins at MP 10.4. The 2.0 mile hike takes you on a 605 foot climb with great views from the top.
Overall Run Trail begins at MP 21.1. The 6.4 mile hike takes you on a 1850 foot climb with views of Overall Run Falls, the tallest falls in the park.
Central District Hikes
Mary’s Rock Trail, another very popular hike in the park, begins at MP 33.5. The 2.8 mile hike takes you on a 830 foot climb with great views.
Hawksbill Mountain is the highest point in the park. Begin at MP 46.7 for the 2.1 mile hike which takes you on a 520 foot climb with views to the east and west.
Dark Hollow Falls Trail begins at MP 50.7. The 1.4 mile hike takes you to the closest waterfall off the Skyline Drive with a 440 foot climb.
South District Hikes
The Frazier Discovery Trail on Loft Mountain begins at MP 79.5. The 1.3 mile trail takes you on a 455 foot climb with excellent views at the top.
Choose your distance when hiking to Doyles River Falls at MP 81.1. Enjoy a 2.6 mile hike to the upper falls or a 3.2 mile hike to the lower falls.
These are just a small taste of the many hiking opportunities in Virginia. Plan a half-day hike, an all day hike or a multi-day hike and enjoy your time in the Blue Ridge Mountains, our local hiking treasure.