The 13 Best Hikes With A View In Virginia

Virginia isn’t just for lovers, it’s for hikers too!

By: Sarah Giek
June 8, 2016

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With one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world lining the western border, Virginia is filled with history and beauty. You can experience it all on one of the many trails throughout the state – from easy, family-friendly walks to challenging rock scrambles – you’re sure to find a hike for your skill level. If you’re after amazing view, these hikes will get you there. From north to south, here are the top 13 hikes to Virginia’s best views:

1. Mary’s Rock

This hike is conveniently located just south of the Thornton Gap entrance to Shenandoah National Park. There are many trail options – ranging from a moderate 2.8 mile out-and-back hike to a more challenging 9 mile loop. The summit provides 180 degree views to the west and is a great spot for watching the sunset. Learn more.

2. Old Rag

This is probably the most popular hike in Shenandoah National Park, but it is also the most challenging. The 8 mile hike requires roughly 1 mile of rock scrambling – be prepared to climb up, on, and over boulders to reach the summit. If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with 360 degree views. Start early to avoid the crowds! Learn more.

3. Stony Man

One of the most recognizable images of Shenandoah National Park comes from the Stony Man summit. After the easy 0.8 mile hike from the parking area, you will be treated to expansive views – including Skyline Drive to the north and Skyland Resort to the south. This is another great option for watching the sunset. Learn more.

4. Bearfence Mountain

This short hike has just enough rock scrambling to make it feel like a challenge. Bearfence Mountain is one of the few hikes in Shenandoah National Park that provides views to both the east and west – making it an ideal location for sunrise or sunset. Learn more.

5. Blackrock Summit

Blackrock Summit provides some of the best views in the Southern District of Shenandoah National Park. There are few hikes that provide as big of a reward with such little effort. The half mile hike to the summit will take you to 270-degree views, stretching from north to south. This is another excellent choice for sunrise or sunset. Learn more.

6. Humpback Rocks

Humpback Rocks is a popular choice for anyone living in Central Virginia. Although the hike is short, be prepared for the elevation gain – over 1000 feet in just under a mile! The climb is worth it though, as the rock outcrop provides nearly 270-degree views of the east and west – a local favorite for sunrise or sunset. Learn more.

7. Spy Rock

There aren’t many hikes where you can get 360-degree views without a long slog to the summit – but Spy Rock is one of them! There is a fair amount of elevation gain – roughly 1200 feet over a mile and a half of hiking – and a little rock scrambling is required to get to the top of the rock. But you’ll forget all about it once you see the view! Learn more.

8. Cole Mountain

Commonly referred to as Cold Mountain, the summit of Cole Mountain is unlike any other in Virginia. Its open meadows provide a 360-degree view; a unique experience that makes the 6 mile journey worth every step. You might even be tempted to start singing like Julie Andrews. Learn more.

9. House Mountain

A hidden gem in Central Virginia, House Mountain consists of two out-and-back hikes, with views that rival the more popular McAfee Knob. If you choose to complete both sections of the hike, be prepared for a considerable amount of elevation change. If you’re up for the challenge, the expansive views won’t disappoint! Learn more.

10. Sharp Top

Sharp Top is one of three peaks that make up Peaks of Otter. This is the most popular hike of the three, boasting 360 views from the summit. You’ll have to earn these views though with a steady climb to the top (1300 feet of elevation gain over 1.5 miles each way). Learn more.

11. Mcafee Knob

McAfee Knob is probably the most popular hike in Virginia, and its unique outcrop is the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail. Although this is one of the longer hikes on the list – just under 9 miles – the elevation gain of 1700 feet is more moderate than some of its counterparts. And its 270-degree views make it a must-do hike in Southern Virginia. Learn more.

12. Dragon’s Tooth

If you’re looking to get away from the crowds at McAfee Knob but don’t want to sacrifice the views, head down the road to the Dragon’s Tooth trail. This shorter hike will provide more of a workout, with 1200 feet of elevation gain over just 2.5 miles of trail, and a short stretch of rock scrambling. Although many hikers like to climb the “tooth” to enjoy the view, it is equally enjoyable from the comfort of the solid ground (i.e. be safe!). Learn more.

13. Mount Rogers

The highest point in Virginia provides a beautiful and challenging hike. And as an added bonus – ponies! The best views are along the trail, as the rainforest-like summit doesn’t provide any. Be prepared to scramble some rocks along the way, and pay attention to the trail markers, as there are many alternate routes. Learn more.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.