• Activities:

    Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    1.7 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    800 Feet

Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Tallest point in Shenandoah National Park. 270 degree views. Great for sunset photography.

A hike to the summit of Hawksbill Mountain will not only put you at the highest point in Shenandoah National Park (4050'), but you'll have a 270 degree view perfect for a sunset.

This moderate hike is located at MP 45.6 on the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, so you'll have to pay a $20 entrance fee (valid for 7 days) per car to enter the park if you don't have an annual pass. There is a helpful trail map at the parking lot to assist you in choosing your ascent route.

This link will also help: nps.gov

The trail on the right of the parking lot is a moderate, but very scenic hike along the Appalachian Trail to the summit (via the Salamander Trail). The trail out of the center of the parking lot is a VERY steep and the most direct trail to the summit called the "Lower Hawksbill Trail".

The Lower Hawksbill Trail climbs straight up the mountain, and you ascend 800 feet in 0.85 miles. The trail emerges from the woods at the summit, and the Byrds Nest Shelter (day use) will be on your right. Continue past the shelter to the stone platform on the summit of the mountain.

Views to the west are of Massanutten Mountain, to the north is Stony Man Mountain and northern Shenandoah, and the rocky peak to the east is Old Rag Mountain. Find a perch on the rocky outcrop and have a picnic or watch the sunset. Once done admiring the view, simply retrace your steps back down to the car to complete the 1.7 mile round trip hike.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Hiking shoes
  • Camera
  • A light jacket
  • $20 for entrance fee
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Reviews

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The AT and Salamander Trail was not scenic unless you find a walk in the woods scenic. Peaceful yes, but boring. The Salamander Trail felt a lot longer than the .7 miles to the top, but maybe that was it was our last trail after a full day of hiking.

6 months ago
6 months ago

This was a quick 45 minute hike up. It was fairly easy but closer to the summit it got very steep and we were breathing hard- but not for long! Once you get to the summit there is a big boulder with 3 trails, make sure to take the one on the right- that has the best views. You can see 360 degrees, with views of shortoff mountain and table rock. You can hear the falls below and see the Linville River. Absolutely beautiful and so fun to climb around the rocks on the summit. I wish I had brought my hammock up.

8 months ago
8 months ago

As the highest peak in the park, it is a definite 'must do' if you're ever making a trip to Shenandoah. With multiple trailhead parking locations (upper or lower) it is pretty easy to find a spot usually. At the summit is a nice day shelter as well as a directional compass thing to point out landmarks in the distance. One drawback as the highest peak and a very short hike, it gets really really crowded up top.

10 months ago
10 months ago

This is the tallest mountain in Shenandoah National Park and has a great west facing view, which makes it ideal for watching the sunset (just remember to bring your head lamp). This is also a great place to view and photography birds riding the thermals.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Hike is incredibly uphill, so if you have bad knees forewarning. That said, the view is so worth it so keep pushing!!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I went there twice this past summer. I did both the Appalachian Trail/Salamander Trail and the short uphill hike straight from the parking lot. Both are amazing. The views are gorgeous for both sunrise and sunset.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

The hike is short and sweet -- my go to day hike when I'm short on time but want to get in a breathtaking view. As the highest accessible point in Shenandoah National Park, the view never fails -- whether in the summer with blue skies, green and flowery in the spring, bright with autumn colors in the fall, or snow covered in the winter!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Very easy short trail that leads to an incredible view! Great for families with little kids too.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

This is a great hike for viewing the sunset in Shenandoah. You can take the 3 mile loop hike (via the Appalachian Trail - to the right at the parking lot) counterclockwise - getting to the summit for sunset and then taking the steeper and shorter Lower Hawksbill trail on the way down in the dark.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Always enjoy this one (except for the steep part right before the end) - the views are hard to beat! It's also nice to connect this with the Upper Hawksbill loop for a longer hike :)

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Very rewarding hike! Watch for bears if you're doing a sunrise/sunset hike. We ran into a momma and a couple Cubs on our hike back following the sunset.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Elyse Clark Explorer

Explorer. Hiker. Photographer.

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