Backcountry Regulations for Shenandoah National Park
- Appalachian Trail – Beagle Gap to Rockfish Gap – South District
(5.7 miles, elevation gain: 800 ft. – a couple decent views, mostly walking in the woods)
- Appalachian Trail – Beagle Gap to Turk Gap – South District
(6.4 miles, elevation gain: 1300 ft. – small summit, a few obstructed views, and an AT hut)
- Appalachian Trail – MM89 to Turk Gap – South District
(6.1 miles, elevation gain: 850 ft. – just a walk in the woods)
- Appalachian Trail – Brown Gap to MM89 – South District
(6 miles, elevation gain: 1100 ft. – nice views from Blackrock and an AT hut to visit)
- Appalachian Trail – Loft Mountain to Brown Gap – South District
(7.1 miles, elevation gain: 800 ft. – lots of nice views)
- Appalachian Trail – Powell Gap to Loft Mountain – South District
(10 miles, elevation gain: 2500 ft. – nice views, overnight stay at Pinefield Hut)
- Appalachian Trail – Powell Gap to Swift Run Gap – South District
(6.4 miles, elevation gain: 1250 ft. – wonderful views from the summit of Hightop)
- Appalachian Trail – Bearfence to Swift Run Gap – Central District
(9.25 miles, elevation gain: 1350 ft. – no great views, a pretty walk through the woods)
- Appalachian Trail – Big Meadows to Bearfence – Central District
(8.25 miles, elevation gain: 1500 ft. – views behind Big Meadows, large cemetery)
- Appalachian Trail – Skyland to Big Meadows – Central District
(7.9 miles, elevation gain: 1250 ft. – several pretty views, stops by a PATC cabin and AT hut)
- Appalachian Trail: Skyland to Thornton Gap – Central District
(10 miles, elevation gain: 2000 ft. – great section with many nice views)
- Appalachian Trail – Elkwallow to Thornton Gap – North District
(8.75 miles, elevation gain: 1600 ft. – nice view from Pass Mountain)
- Appalachian Trail – Elkwallow to Jenkins Gap – North District
(12.6 miles, elevation gain: 1900 ft. – spectacular views and a stay at a hut along the AT)
- Appalachian Trail – Jenkins Gap to Front Royal (US-522) – North District
(8 miles, elevation gain: 1900 ft. – a couple of views and an AT hut)
- Bear Church Rock – via Bootens Gap – Central District
(9.5 miles. elevation gain: 1800 ft. – awesome views, less-traveled part of Shenandoah)
- Bear Church Rock – via Graves Mill – Central District
(8.5 miles, elevation gain: 2210 ft. – awesome views, waterfalls, river, PATC cabin)
- Bearfence Mountain – Central District
(1.2 miles, elevation gain: 380 ft. – great views, fun rock scramble)
- Big Flat Mountain Loop – South District
(4.7 miles, elevation gain: 675 ft. – great views along the way for minimal effort)
- Big Run Loop – South District
(5.8 miles, elevation gain: 1400 ft. – one decent view, nice stream)
- Blackrock Summit – South District
(5.1 miles, elevation gain: 636 ft – great views, easy terrain)
- Buck Hollow-Buck Ridge – Central District
(5.6 miles, elevation gain: 1750 ft. – one decent view, some seriously steep climbing)
- Byrd’s Nest #4 Loop – North District
(2.4 miles, elevation gain: 850 ft. – obstructed view and a day-use shelter)
- Calvary Rocks & Chimney Rock – South District
(3.1 miles, elevation gain: 450 ft. – nice views for little effort)
- Compton Peak – North District
(2.4 miles, elevation gain: 835 ft. – two summits, nice views to the west)
- Corbin Cabin – Nicholson Hollow Loop – Central District
(4.2 miles, elevation gain: 1500 ft. – no views, interesting old cabins)
- Dark Hollow Falls – Central District
(1.4 miles, elevation gain: 440 ft. – waterfall, very crowded)
- Double Bear Rocks – North District
(8.3 miles, elevation gain: 1730 ft; trail shelter and nice view from Pass Mountain)
- Doyles River – Jones Run – South District
(6 miles, elevation gain: 1875 ft. – waterfalls)
- Dry Run Falls – Central District
(3.2 miles, elevation gain: 150-200 ft. – waterfall, stream, along a fire road)
- Fox Hollow Loop – North District
(1.2 miles, elevation gain: 310 ft. – historical features)
- Furnace Mountain – South District
(4.7 miles, elevation gain: 1300 ft. – views)
- Furnace Mountain – Austin Mountain Loop – South District
(12 miles, elevation gain: 2900 ft. – views, streams, massive talus slopes)
- Hawksbill Summit Loop – Central District
(2.9 miles, elevation gain: 800 ft. – great views, peregrine falcons)
- Hazel Falls – Central District
(5.2 miles, elevation gain: 800 ft. – pretty, small waterfall, caves)
- Hazel Mountain – Catlett Mountain Loop – Central District
(7.8 miles, elevation gain: 1400 ft. – overnight backpacking trip)
- Hazeltop Mountain – Central District
(3.9 miles, elevation gain: 597 ft – nice viewpoint, easy hike)
- Hightop Mountain – South District
(3.8 miles, elevation gain: 967 ft. – nice view, visit an AT shelter)
- Knob Mountain – Jeremy’s Run Loop – North District
(12.4 miles, elevation gain: 2600 ft. – decent views, pretty stream, overnight trip)
- Lands Run Falls – North District
(1.6 miles, elevation gain: 300 ft. – waterfall)
- Laurel Prong – Mill Prong Loop – Central District
(7.3 miles, elevation gain: 1100 ft, historical building, streams, views, waterfalls)
- Lewis Mountain – Central District
(4.7 miles, elevation gain: 820 ft, great place to see massive trillium bloom in the spring)
- Lewis Peak – South District
(9 miles, elevation gain: 1527 ft, great views)
- Lewis Spring Falls – Central District
(3 miles, elevation gain: 990 ft. – waterfall)
- Limberlost Trail – Central District
(1.3 miles, elevation gain: none. – wheelchair accessible)
- Little Devils Stairs – North District
(5.5 miles, elevation gain: 1650 ft, steep climb through a rugged gorge and lots of fire road walking)
- Loft Mountain Loop – South District
(2.7 miles, elevation gain: 600 ft. – great views, east and west, from Loft mountain)
- Mary’s Rock – Central District
(6 miles, elevation gain: 800 ft. – lots of spectacular viewpoints)
- The Marshalls – North District
(4.5 miles. elevation gain: 900 ft – excellent view hike)
- Mill Prong – Rapidan Camp Trail – Central District
(4 miles, elevation gain: 750 ft. – waterfall, pretty stream, old presidential retreat)
- Millers Head – Central District
(1.6 miles, elevation gain: 475 ft. – views, hang glider launch)
- Moormans River & Big Branch Falls – South District
(4.5 miles, elevation gain: 625 ft. – waterfalls and streams)
- Neighbor Mountain – Jeremy’s Run Loop – North District
(14.7 miles, elevation gain: 2610 ft, views and beautiful stream scenery)
- Old Rag via Weakley Hollow – Central District
(8.8 miles, elevation gain: 2600 ft. – views and challenging rock scrambling)
- Old Rag via Berry Hollow – Central District
(5.4 miles, elevation gain: 1725 ft. – views and no rock scrambling)
- Overall Run – North District
(4.8 miles, elevation gain: 850 ft. – views and a tall waterfall)
- Pocosin Mission Trail – Central District
(2.2 miles, elevation gain: 450 ft. – mission ruins)
- Powell Gap – South District
(1 mile, elevation gain: 300 ft. – nice view)
- Riprap Trail – South District
(9.8 miles, elevation gain: 2300 ft. – nice views, small waterfalls, stream)
- Robertson Mountain – Central District
(6 miles, elevation gain: 1250 ft. – great views of Old Rag/valley below, lots of fire road walking)
- Rocky Mount – South District
(6.8 miles, elevation gain: 1,937 ft. nice views, lots of solitude)
- Rocky Mountain – South District
(not the same as Rocky Mount! – 3.2 miles, elevation gain: about 1160 ft., views)
- Rockytop – Big Run Loop
(14.3 miles, elevation gain: about 2880 ft. – nice views, great campsites, poorly blazed)
- Rose River Loop – Central District
(4 miles, elevation gain: 900 ft. – several waterfalls)
- Saddleback Mountain Loop – Central District
(6 miles, elevation gain: 1080 ft. – just a nice walk in the woods)
- Simmons Gap – South District
(1.6 miles, elevation gain: 200 ft. – unremarkable fire road walk)
- South River Falls – Central District
(4.4 miles, elevation gain: 1315 ft. – waterfall, fire road)
- Snead Farm – North District
(3 miles, elevation gain: 300 ft. – pretty barn)
- Stony Man and Little Stony Man – Central District
(2.9 miles, elevation gain: 750 ft. – super views)
- Story of the Forest Nature Trail – Central District
(1.8 miles, elevation gain: none. – walk in the woods, portions paved)
- Sugarloaf-Keyser Run-Hogback Mountain Loop – North District
(4.9 miles, elevation gain: 700 ft. – nice view from Little Hogback)
- Traces Trail – North District
(1.7 miles, elevation gain: 200 ft. – just a nice walk in the woods)
- Trayfoot Mountain – Paine Run – South District
(9.5 miles, elevation gain: 2200 ft. – nice views from Blackrock summit and great backpacking loop)
- Turk Mountain – South District
(2.2 miles, elevation gain: 690 ft. – great view, interesting rocks)
- White Oak Canyon – Central District
(5.4 miles, elevation gain: 1200 ft. – waterfalls)
32 thoughts on “Trails in Shenandoah National Park”
Is this a complete list?
No… nowhere close!
The Toffees top scorer has been linked with a move back to former club Chelsea but looks set to stay at Goodison Park for now.
Such an information site, and love the feedback and questions and answers that come back from readers and admins. I wonder could I get some help with my below query?
Nov 7 – Nov 9
Leaving from Charlottesville, so ideally enter the south end of SNP and moving northwards.
We want to go to our First Location, check into a location, then go for a day hike loop, come back to the accommodation, and stay the night, then the next morning, travel northwards to the other and so on.
Where is your first accommodation? Do you know that yet (I think some of the facilities are already closed by the beginning of November)? Are you camping or staying in a lodge? I can make hike recommendations based on where you’re staying.
Hi! I am a New Englander hiker traveling to VA to see my boyfriends dad in late august. We are looking for a 3 day, 2 night backpacking trip that is on the more northern side of the park but still has good views and waterfalls. I’ve never been to VA so I would love to see what they have to offer 🙂 Thank you for any advice!
Hi Kim – I would suggest looking at an Appalachian Trail segment paired with Jeremy’s Run (using either Neighbor or Knob mountain for access). It has beautiful views and small waterfalls. You can easily create a 3 day, 2 night hike using trails in the vicinity. I think it’s one of the park’s most scenic areas. Due to the linear nature of the park, sometimes the best idea is to hire a shuttle service and do a segment hike rather than try to make a loop. Leave your car at the end point, and have a shuttle meet you to drive to your start point. We’ve used Open Arms Hostel in Luray for rides (https://openarmsluray.com), but there are other shuttle services out of Front Royal as well. I recommend looking at the park’s list of suggested backpacking routes: https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/backcountry-trips.htm They have the information broken down by distance, features, challenge, and number of nights. I hope this helps!
I would like to do about a 50 mile hike through Shenandoah Park. Looking at hiking middle of May. Fairly new at backpacking so would like a little easier route. (Mom hiking with my college boys) Also would prefer not to be around people the whole time. ( heard busy that time of year with At hikers). If you have info on bears, weather and water that would also
Im beginner (35 years Male),Havent done much hiking..but would like to see if i can cover Overall Run Falls.Its mentioned as Moderately strenuous and 4 hours.Im ok with 4 hours of round trip hike,but by moderately strenuous would it be rock terrain and steep inclines,Could you please suggest
Overall Run as an out-and-back to the falls is moderate, dirt terrain. The trail is fairly well graded and there are few rocky parts.
My girlfriend and I, along with our 2 dogs are trying to plan a 3 night backpacking trip in the last week of October. We are not too familiar with the area. We’ll be driving out from New York so we are looking for a loop (easy to park the car at one point and finish at the same point). Or, if you think hitchhiking is easy to get back the the starting point a one way trail would be awesome. 6-10 miles per day would be ideal. Any inside tips and help would be appreciated!
Hi Andy – what kind of features do you want? How important is solitude?
Thank you for your quick response. We are definitely looking for solitude. We would like to pass through some nice look outs and definitely some falls, particularly to replenish our water supply as we will be needing to have water for not just myself and my girlfriend but also our two dogs. We may try to avoid river crossings or wading through deep water.
Great! That helps narrow things down. You’re not going to find any true 3 night loops in Shenandoah, as the park is very long and narrow. It’s like a corridor, so most of the longer hikes are linear. It is easy (and legal) to hitchhike for hiking transportation in the park. But, there are also shuttle services in Luray (Open Arms hostel). You might want to consider a section hike along the Appalachian Trail through the central district of Shenandoah. You could start at Thornton Gap and hike to Swift Run Gap. It’s a little over 30 miles to do the whole section. There are good campsites spaced out along the Appalachian Trail. There are a couple nice waterfalls (which are unfortunately very low to completely dry due to the lack of recent rain) that would require short detours from the Appalachian Trail. You would have many nice views along the way. You could also make figure 8 loops using the AT as a connector – some nice areas are Austin/Furnace/Trayfoot/Payne (at the southern end of the park) and Jeremys Run paired with Knob/Neighbor and the Appalachian Trail (northern section of the park). The downside to any hiking in the park during October is the lack of solitude. The park and all its trails are busy during the fall season. If solitude is your number one priority, I would suggest looking at trails in the adjacent George Washington National Forest.
We are looking to hike 30-35 miles on the AT in Shenandoah in May. Can you help provide a good starting place where we can park cars or where we could catch a ride and hike back to our car? Thank you!
I suggest hiking the central district of the park. It’s right around 35 miles and takes you past many of the park’s best viewpointss (Bearfence,Hawksbill, Stony Man, The Pinnacle, Marys Rock). There is good camping – both trailside and at AT shelters You’ll also pass Lewis Mountain, Big Meadows, and Skyland – three of the park’s main campgrounds/lodges. They’re great places to get a shower and a good meal along your hike. There is ample parking at both ends of the section. I think Open Arms hostel in Luray can provide shuttle services. Also, hitchhiking is allowed in the park for hikers and is pretty easy to come by (if you don’t want to pay a shuttle).
Hi.. thanks for providing such a comprehensive list of hikes. I am curious what will be the ideal hiking trail circuit for a 3 days 2 nights backcountry hiking/camping trip in shenandoah during first week of september. I am looking for hikes with some degree of solitude and some nice views. Thanks in advance
Hi Ankit… can you tell me how far you like to hike per day and what features you would like to include on the hike (views, history, waterfalls), and I’ll give you some sample itineraries/routes.
I’m looking for same. Maybe 15 miles per day. View would be nice.
I think you’re going to have a hard time finding loops that let you cover 15 miles a day. The park is so long and narrow, so there aren’t many significant loop hikes. You could do some figure-8 hikes that use the Appalachian Trail to connect loops. The option I think I’d recommend is to hike the Austin-Furnace circuit (13 miles if you take the spur to the Furnace viewpoint, 12 if you don’t) he Trayfoot-Paine circuit (9.5 miles) and the Doyles River-Jones run circuit (7-8 miles depending on if you walk the shorter fire road option), using the Appalachian Trial to connect the three circuits (it would add a few miles and there would be some backtracking/repeating to make the loops connect). There are reliable water sources, nice campsites, and many views. The Jeremys Run area (looping with Knob and Neighbor Mountain) is nice, too. But it’s shorter than you prefer and there aren’t many great views.
Another thought is to hire a shuttle and do a long segment of the Appalachian Trail. If you go three days and hike 15 miles a day, you can finish almost half of the park’s length. If you chose this option, there are hiker hostels in Luray (Open Arms) and Waynesboro (Stanimals). They can provide shuttle services. We usually have them drop us off at our start point, and hike back to our car. You might see a few more people on this option, but honestly early September is a quiet time in the park. We’ve done some AT backpacking in Shenandoah in September and only camped near a small handful of people – even when we stay right by a backcountry shelter. If you choose dispersed sites, you should have quite a bit of solitude.
The park also has a list of route suggestions on their website, but I find a lot of them to be kind of… odd (weird mileage splits). Here is that link: https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/campbc_trip_plans.htm
We are looking to hike 6-7 miles per day. And we are thinking of a hike that includes some part of wilderness valley, good swimming holes and streams for water options. We were first considering Overall Run Falls and Heiskell Hollow circuit. But we are not sure if the swimming holes and streams will be dried up during the first week of september. Alternatively if there are not any hike circuits with good swimming holes and streams this season, we can also consider a hike that covers a peak and wilderness valley and has water options along the way. We are thinking Brown Mountain and Rockytop circuit for that. Kindly let me know your advice. Thanks in advance
Ankit… Would you consider hikes outside the park? If so, consider Dolly Sods or Spruce Knob/Seneca Creek. They’ll allow you the mileage you want and give you some of the best stream scenery and swimming holes in our region. Water in the park is pretty low right now.
Thank you very much for creating this. I’m looking at spending 6 weeks from October 15th 2017 hiking at a slow and steady pace along this route, from start till I run out of time. Can you please tell me what the temperatures will be? I have high quality camping gear to 0 degrees comfortably. Able to go to -2.
Also can you please tell me will there be stores along the routes for food/water/showers? And how far apart are they.
Thank you very much
Hi Tom! You might want to check with Shenandoah National Park about permits. I’m pretty sure the park limits people to 14 consecutive nights in the backcountry. I’m not sure if you’re planning on spending all of your six weeks on the trail, but you might want to look at the permit regulations before planning. Most of the amenities (campgrounds, restaurants, stores, water, showers) will be open when you start on October 15, but most of them start closing by the end of October. The exact dates for closings change from year to year, so you should look for exact dates on the park’s website. All of the amenities are along Skyline Drive. Some are as close as 6 trail miles apart, but sometimes you have to walk 20+ miles to get to services. As far as temperatures, I’ve hiked in mid-October in shorts and a tee-shirt, but I’ve also hiked in mid-October in a down jacket and base-layers. It’s a shoulder season – you never know what you’ll get.
Thanks for putting this up. Are these all the trails available in Shenandoah, or there are others that are not listed here?
There are many more trails in Shenandoah! These are just the most popular and worthwhile (in our opinion). All told. the park has just over 500 miles of hiking trails and fire roads.
This is a great site.Thanks for putting this up. Wondering if you are hiking this July 4th weekend. I’m camping for 4 days at Big Meadow. Would love some company !!
Thanks for the visit and the nice feedback! We’re planning oh hiking outside the park this weekend – closer to the WV border. I hope you have a great trip!
This is a great site! Makes it very easy to access a lot of trails conveniently. Thanks! I have Elkwood to Jenkins and Bear Church rock on my list.
Thank you so much for the detailed descriptions and directions for each trail in Shenandoah! It really helped me decide what trails to do in my short visit to Shenandoah.
It’s our pleasure, Emily! What trails did you choose for your visit?