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Hike the Appalachian Trail


Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park

The Appalachian Trail is a 2,181-mile public footpath that traverses some of America's most scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands.

Shenandoah National Park includes a 101-mile portion of the Appalachian Trail. The trail traces the ridge of the Blue Ridge mountains, often following the same route as Skyline Drive. The trail crosses Skyline Drive numerous times in the park. 

Hiking the Appalachian Trail can be a great adventure. We encourage all visitors to download this guide, published by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for detailed information, “Step by Step: An Introduction to Walking the Appalachian Trail."

The AT is open to walkers, hikers, and backpackers.  It is closed to motor vehicles and bicycles.  It is closed to horses, except in certain limited sections where they are expressly allowed. Section hikers are encouraged to plan hiking in mid-July through mid-May (not in or near June) due to busy "thru-hiker season".

Listed below are a few short hikes that cross, utilize, or are located nearby the Appalachian Trail. More detailed information, including maps and trail guidebooks, is available from Appalachian Trail Conservancy at (304) 535-6331 or contact our local resource, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) for trip planning assistance.

Hike Name

Compton Gap to Compton Peak

Closest Town Front Royal
Difficulty Level Moderate
Distance 2.4 miles round trip
Features Good views, basalt formation, Compton's Peak

Parking area for Compton is located south of Front Royal, at Skyline Drive MP 10.4


Hike Name

Mary's Rock

Closest Town Luray
Difficulty Level Moderate
Distance 4 miles round trip
Features Panoramic views, wildflowers in most seasons, 360-degree view
Directions The trailhead is located next to Panorama in Thornton Gap, at the intersection of US 211 and Skyline Drive (9 miles east of Luray). 

Hike Name

Hawksbill Loop

Closest Town Luray
Difficulty Level Moderate
Distance 2.7 miles round trip
Features Highest mountain in Shenandoah National Park, views
Directions The hike begins from the Hawksbill Gap Parking Area at Skyline Drive MP 45.6.  This is about 15 miles south of US 211 in Thornton Gap

Hike Name

Lewis Spring Falls

Closest Town Harrisonburg/Shenandoah
Difficulty Level Moderate
Distance 3.3 miles round trip
Features Views, waterfalls, cliffs at Blackrock
Directions Start from Big Meadows Lodge amphitheater parking, near Skyline Drive MP 51

Hike Name


Closest Town Harrisonburg, VA
Difficulty Level Moderate
Distance 2 miles round trip
Features Outstanding views from Blackrock
Directions The Jones Run Parking Area is a Skyline Drive MP 83.8

Hike Name

Bear Den Mountain

Closest Town Waynesboro, VA
Difficulty Level Easy to Moderate
Distance 2.2 miles round trip
Features Panoramic views, hawks during the annual fall migration
Directions There is a small dirt parking lot in Beagle Gap at Skyline Drive MP 99.3


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did you know?

Benton McKaye, the “father of the Appalachian Trail,” was also instrumental in passage of the Wilderness Act. Shenandoah National Park carries on Benton McKaye’s legacy with 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail and almost 80,000 acres of designated wilderness.


These last dog days of summer are the perfect time to leave the the sand-and-surf set behind and head for the hills. Plan your getaway now.