Top 5 beginner hikes with gorgeous views around Shenandoah National Park

By: Allison Foyles + Save to a List

If you’re new into hiking or looking for an easy hike that the whole family can join, Virginia is a great place for your next adventure. Located in the heart of the state is Shenandoah National Park, famous for the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and gorgeous scenery. With the numerous hikes surrounding the mountains, it can be overwhelming to pick the perfect one. Listed below are the top 5 quick and easy hikes with the best views SNP has to offer.

Don't miss these Shenandoah National Park hikes

1. Bearfence Mountain Loop

Starting off the top of the list is a park favorite. This 1.04 roundtrip hike has a mild elevation gain and leads to an unbelievable 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The last section of the hike has a fun rock scramble, so some mild climbing is needed. Unfortunately, your fury friends have to stay at home for this one. This is one of the few hikes in Shenandoah National Park that does not allow pets.
(1.04 Miles Roundtrip) (220ft Elevation Gain)

2. Hawksbill Mountain Summit

Photo courtesy of Elyse Clark

This hike adds something special because it is the tallest point in Shenandoah National Park. Moderate steepness throughout the trail but can be completed in under 45 minutes. Even though it’s quick, you’ll want to take longer to soak in these spectacular views.
(1.54 Miles Roundtrip) (669ft Elevation Gain)

3. Little Stony Man

Not to be confused with the popular “Stony Man” hike, Little Stony Man is a shorter trail, but still offers the gorgeous views with your head above the clouds. The climb consists of switchbacks through the forest with the trail ending at a perfect overlook. This hike is great option for those who want to see the sunset sink into the mountains.
(1.23 Miles Roundtrip) (422ft Elevation Gain)

4. Humpback Rocks

Out of the five hikes listed, this is the only one not directly located in Shenandoah National Park - but don’t let that stop you. This is a popular hike, not only because you do you not need a national park pass, but the views are absolutely breath taking. There are two ways to reach the top of this hike, one being 1.73 miles round trip. This is the most strenuous hike on the list due to the steep elevation gain of 833 feet but can be completed in an hour. If you’re near or around the Charlottesville area this is a great addition to your day.
(1.73 Miles Roundtrip) (833ft Elevation Gain)

5. Blackrock Summit

Last but certainly not least is Blackrock Summit. This short hike has a minimal elevation gain and is fairly flat the whole way to the viewpoint - perfect for all fitness levels and ages. Once reaching the top, you are welcomed with full views to the north and south, making this a gorgeous option for anyone wanting to view sunrise or sunset. This is a great recommendation for any first-timers stepping into nature.
(1.11 Miles Roundtrip) (175ft Elevation Gain)

All the above hikes are open year-round. Skyline Drive may be closed due to weather conditions so be sure to check closures before you head out. Bears have been spotted in these areas so stay aware and maintain your distance if you come across one. Always come prepare by wearing proper shoes, packing water, snacks and a first aid kit. If you choose a hike that is located directly in SNP, you will need a park pass. More information can be found directly on their website.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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