Pete’s Cave

Petes Cave Views
Spectacular views from the rock outcroppings above the “cave”

View all the photos from this hike

Adam Says… We were so pleased to find this hidden gem of a hike in Virginia! This hike has some jaw-dropping views, an interesting “cave” to explore, and great camping with not a lot of elevation difference.

The parking area has space for about four cars to park. From the parking area, head down about 10 yards further down the road and you will see two trails on the opposite side of the road from where you park on the right. Both of these spur trails connect to each other, so it doesn’t matter which one you pick. Climb up the short spur and the trail goes off to the left. The trail starts off hiking on a ridgeline. From .2 miles to .4 miles, you will notice a few short spur trails to the left. Climbing up these short spur trails leads to some amazing views that shouldn’t be missed. We always enjoy views without many signs of civilization and you get that here as you can soak up views of Big and Little House Mountains. I imagine that a lot of people could come to this trail to get such an amazing view with so little effort – great place for a sunrise view! We soaked in the view for a short time but decided we would get better pictures when we weren’t looking into the sun, so we picked a favorite overlook to return to at the end of the hike to reward ourselves.

Views From Pete's Cave Hike
Taking in view from the first quarter mile of the hike.

Once the section of views is done, the trail moves into a more wooded area. At .5 miles, you see the only trail sign for the hike at a trail intersection with a small fire road (maybe used by bikes or hunters?) through the woods. Continue on the main trail. Pay attention to red blazes marking private property.

The trail from this point is mostly a flat walk through the woods with only some occasional rises or falls in elevation. The trail is not as well-blazed as many others, so we found it a bit difficult at times to make sure you were still on the trail. If you do this during the fall, this could be especially tricky if leaves have covered a lot of the trail. However, you are mostly walking on a ridgeline, so you likely won’t stray too far. There are a few stretches where we found the trail could use some maintenance since there were taller areas of knee-high brush that you were walking through. You do also get a few glimpses of obstructed views to the east.

Ferns Along Pete's Cave Trail
A lot of the trail passed through flat areas with abundant ferns.

At 3.2 miles, you come to a great couple of campsites that have some open views to the east. While there isn’t a nearby water source, this would be a great campsite if you lug your own water in for an overnight trip.

Continue on the trail past the campsite and at 3.4 miles you come to some stone steps that lead to the area known as Pete’s Cave. The rocks in this area remind me of rows of shark teeth that probably need to go to a dentist. This is an interesting area to explore, but please know your limits! This is a dangerous area with cracks and holes you could fall into or get an ankle stuck or hurt. We crawled through one area that had a cave-like feel to it, but there was a skylight that let some light in so you didn’t feel too claustrophobic. At the top of this “cave”, there was one area where I was able to scramble up to the top of a large boulder and got some incredible views to the west, but getting back down was a bit more sketchy. Again, be careful in this area if you choose to explore.

A nice (dry) campsite along the Pete’s Cave Trail

The trail climbs steeply up the other side which also leads to some nice views to the west. Go back the way you came to get back to your car and make sure to reward yourself with more of those views close to the finish line.

The Caves
While Petes Cave is not a true cave, it’s still pretty fun to explore.

Christine Says… I really enjoyed this hike. The views were outstanding, there were very few people on the trail, and the “cave” at the end was fun to explore. There are several paths to the rocky outcroppings above the cave. Don’t miss checking those views out – they’re as nice as the views earlier in the hike. The trail continues beyond the caves, but apparently it’s just a walk in the woods – nothing noteworthy to see. It eventually descends back into the valley.

Trail Notes

  • Distance – 6.8 miles 
  • Elevation Change – 1000 ft.
  • Difficulty –  2.  There are rolling hills all along this hike, but generally it is easy terrain.
  • Trail Conditions – 3. The trail was overgrown in some parts, but overall easy to follow and walk.
  • Views – 4.5. Spectacular panoramic views of Big House and Little House Mountains to the east and just past Pete’s Cave, there are views to the west.
  • Streams/Waterfalls – 0. Non-existent and no water sources.
  • Wildlife –3. We saw some deer and a few birds from the overlook.
  • Ease to Navigate – 3. We didn’t have a lot of difficulty, but needed to mark it down some due to the lack of blazing and some of the trail was overgrown which made it a bit more difficult.
  • Solitude – 4. We did this trail early and didn’t see many people, but I would expect it would be busier on most weekends. The viewpoints generally have a few places to spread out and soak in the scenery.


Directions to trailhead:  The parking lot is a small turnoff on VA 770. GPS coordinates: 37.81906, -79.63468

Veach Gap – Morgan’s Road

This hike is easy for a 7-miler!  Gentle grades along an old roadbed take you to a lovely view of the Shenandoah River and mountains beyond!

View the Full Album of Photos From This Hike

Veach Gap Hike
The Point overlook on the Veach Gap hike offers nice views of the bends of the Shenandoah River and the mountains of the national park beyond. Below: Adam crosses the closed gate at the beginning of the trail;  Christine hikes the Veach Gap trail; The main trail junction on this hike.

Start of Hike Veach Gap Hike Signs

Christine Says…

Throughout fall 2014, our employer (and alma mater), James Madison University, participated in the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge.  Basically, students and employees accrued points for outdoor activities. The school that compiled the most points in the end won a prize of cash and outdoor gear. One component of the competition was completing a collection of eight local hikes.  The list included many hikes we had already done (Old Rag, Humpback Rock, Fridley Gap, High Knob Fire Tower).  Veach Gap was one of the only hikes on the list we hadn’t done, so we decided to check it out.

From the end of Veach Gap Rd. in Fort Valley, the hike begins along the Veach Gap Trail (blazed in gold), which is an old road bed.  Supposedly, this trail is what remains of the historical Morgan’s Road.  General George Washington requisitioned the road during the Revolutionary War.  It was built to be used as a path of retreat from Yorktown.  As we all know from history, the war went America’s way, and the retreat route was never needed. The road was still used locally for many years before falling into disuse and transitioning into a trail.

At one mile in, the Veach Gap trail crosses Mill Run.  This is really the only potentially confusing spot to navigate on the hike.  The trail crosses at a diagonal, so look carefully for the gold blazes on a tree slightly upstream.  Shortly after crossing the stream, you may notice a rock formation in the shape of an upside down ‘U’.  This is called an anticline, and it’s a very unusual geological feature in our area. I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, but we didn’t even stop to look at the anticline.  I forgot it was there, and my mind was more focused on fall colors, lofty views, and potential wildlife sightings.  But, if you’re a geology buff – don’t miss this feature!

Crossing Mill Run
Crossing Mill Run. You can see the blaze on the tree on the opposite bank. Below: Pretty fall leaves on the water; Blazes for Veach Gap, Tuscarora, and the Massanutten Trails; After the main trail junction, the Massanutten Trail became a little steeper and rockier.

Fall Leaves on Water Blazes Rockier Massanutten Trail

A short distance after crossing the stream, the Veach Gap trail merges and becomes jointly blazed with the orange-blazed Massanutten Trail and the blue-blazed Tuscarora Trail. The three trails share the route for (at most) a couple tenths of a mile. AT 1.2 miles,  you’ll come to another trail sign.  To the right, the trail heads in the direction of the Little Crease Shelter.  Stay to the left (blazed orange and blue), headed up Little Crease Mountain and toward Sherman Gap.  About a half mile after this intersection, you’ll pass a marked group campsite on the right.

Continue meandering uphill along a gentle grade.  At three miles, the trail becomes a bit steeper with switchbacks.  There was a significant forest fire here in 2012, so the canopy is thin and allows nice views along the climb.  We saw lots of charred stumps and blueberry bushes along the increasingly rocky trail.  Eventually, the trail leveled out along the ridge.  We soon reached The Point Overlook – a small outcropping of rocks overlooking a sweeping bend on the Shenandoah River.

We had a snack, took a few photos, and spent some time chatting with a fellow hiker (Hi, DJ!) before heading back down the way we came. Veach Gap was really a lovely hike to enjoy at the peak of fall foliage season.  After getting back to our car, we made the short drive into Front Royal so we could enjoy burgers and shakes at Spelunkers.  Great day!

Adam Says…

When we were reviewing the peakbagging hikes that were listed for JMU students/faculty to try for the Outdoor Nation competition, we were surprised to see this one on there.  My guess is the coordinators looked up hikes that were close to Harrisonburg without thinking of what would be seen on the hike.  We initially thought this wouldn’t be that nice of a hike, since we hadn’t heard anyone mention it before to us, but the views made this a pleasant surprise.

When we pulled up to the parking lot, we saw a few cars already in the parking lot and a group getting ready to hit the trail when we did.  Of course, we saw vehicles for hunters, so we were a little worried about how this trail was being used overall.  We were glad that we had brighter clothes on, which is always a precaution to consider during hunting season.  We started off on the gold-blazed Veach Gap trail by crossing through the gate and walking on the fire road.  The trail was very flat and passed through some younger forest.  We were greeted with sights and sounds of Mill Run to the left of the trail.

Opening Views
The higher we hiked, the more views we got through the trees. Below: Adam takes in the view; The ridge was burned by a forest fire in 2012.  The damage is still fresh and evident; Adam descends.

Another Take on the View Rocky Ridge Descending

We soon came across two bow hunters, that seemed to be milling around, more about enjoying the outdoors than they were about hunting.  At .35 miles, the fire road turns into trail.  At 1.2 miles, take a left at the junction and join the blue and orange-blazed Massanutten Trail.  The trail continued a slow, gradual climb heading northeast.  At 3.0 miles, the trail takes a sharp, southern route and at 3.2 miles, it switches back to the normal northeastern direction.  On our climb up, we passed by a large group of boy scouts that were covering some miles over the weekend, but were looking to camp near the crossing at Mill Run.  The slightly-obstructed views of the mountains beside us were so colorful in this peak fall setting.

As you climb up to the ridge, you start seeing a lot of the forest fire damage.  Since this happened in 2012, you start seeing some of the plants starting to grow in place of those that burned.  We reached the ridge and followed it for about .15 miles.  At 3.5 miles, we found a pile of rocks marking a short climb to the overlook where we stopped.  The true highlight of the view is seeing the bends of the Shenandoah River from this rocky perch.  There wasn’t a ton of room at the top that was unobstructed, but it was enough for a few people to take in the view.

If you feel like you would like a view hike with a good amount of solitude, this may be a great selection.

Trail Notes

  • Distance – 7 miles
    (Check out the stats from Map My Hike)*
  • Elevation Change – 1100 ft.
  • Difficulty –  2.  This is an easy hike to a nice viewpoint.
  • Trail Conditions – 4.  The trail was in great shape in most places.  Dry, fallen leaves made some of the descents slippery.
  • Views  3.5.  The view of the bends of the Shenandoah River is nice, but slightly obstructed.
  • Streams/Waterfalls – 2.  The stream along the early part of the trail is really pretty.
  • Wildlife – 2.  We didn’t see anything but a few birds and squirrels.
  • Ease to Navigate – 3.  There are a few junctions and a few unmarked trails that cross the route, but you should be fine if you follow the blazes.
  • Solitude –4.  We did see a troop of Boy Scouts and a handful of others hiking in this area on a perfect fall weekend near peak foliage color, but generally this area is very quiet.

Download a Trail Map (PDF)

Directions to trailhead:  From Luray, VA, take SR 675/Camp Roosevelt Road.  Go .8 miles and take a left to stay on SR 675.  In 2.2 miles, take a right to stay on SR 675.  In 7.8 miles, take a right on to SR 678/Fort Valley Road.  Follow this for 9.7 miles and then take a right onto SR 774/Veach Gap Road.  Follow this about .75 miles to the end of the road, where you arrive at a parking area.  The trail starts after you walk around the gate.

MapMyHike is not necessarily accurate, as the GPS signal fades in and out – but it still provides some fun and interesting information.