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Hike the Shenandoah River State Park Loop

Bentonville, Virginia

based on 2 reviews



8 miles

Elevation Gain

650 ft

Route Type



Added by Brandon Dewey

A wonderful trail the leads hikers from the banks of the Shenandoah River to a ridge that provides an outstanding view of the Shenandoah River as it winds through the Shenandoah Valley toward Massanutten Mountain.

Shenandoah River State Park is located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.  The park is full of well-maintained trails great for hiking and mountain biking.  The trails both parallel the banks of the river as it snakes through the Shenandoah Valley and through the rolling hills, which provides great views of the river and surrounding mountains. Shenandoah River State Park is nestled between Shenandoah National Park to the east and Massanutten Mountain to the west. 

Shenandoah River State Park is located off rout 340, 15 miles north of Luray and 8 miles south of Front Royal. The Park has over 24 miles of hiking trails to explore, including 5 miles along the shore line of the Shenandoah River.  The park is great spot for families because of the many activities the park offers including picnic areas scattered throughout the park.  There are also camping areas for both tents and RVs along the river, and if visitors want to get on the river, there are a few boat launches for visitors to put in their canoes, kayaks or tubes. 

For day hikers who want to see the highlights of the park I suggest parking in the parking lot down near the river.  It easy to reach this parking lot; after entering the park, just stay straight on Daughter of the Stars Drive for 1.5 miles until you reach a “T” intersection near the river.  Then turn left on to Canoe Launch Road, and find a place to park.  The hike will combine lots of different trails, but don’t worry, all of the trails are well-marked and well-maintained.  

The hike starts at the Bluebell Trailhead. Follow this for 1 mile along the banks of the Shenandoah River, then continue straight onto the River Trail for 2.1 miles.  While hiking on the river trail, there are multiple access points to the river, which will allow hikers the ability to take some great pictures of the river. Culler’s Trail intersects with River trail at two different points. Stay right at the first junction to stay on the River Trail.  When the River Trail dead ends into the Culler’s Trail, which is also the park’s southern most boundary, turn left onto Culler’s Trail.  Follow Culler’s Trail up away from the river for 0.2 miles, then turn right on to Shale Barrens Trail.  Follow Shale Barrens Trail, which is the one of the steeper parts of the loop, for 0.5 miles until you reach the Redtail Ridge Trail. The Redtail Ridge Trail has some breaks in the trees, which provide hikes and some views of the river, but in 0.8 miles, there is an observation point for hikers to enjoy.  Redtail Ridge Trail observation point has a great view of the river and Massanutten Mountain and is a great spot for taking pictures.  After enjoying the view, continue on the Redtail Ridge Trail for 0.2 mile.  

Turn left at the next trail junction, and take Big Oak Trail for 0.8 miles to hike down toward the river. Next, turn right on to Culler’s Trail for 0.7 miles.  Culler’s Trail looks like an old gravel road and passes through grass fields and leads hikers towards the camping areas.  Around 0.3 miles, Culler’s Trail splits; stay straight along the main trail until you reach the road.  Follow the road toward the RV campground for 0.1 miles to the Camp Ground Trailhead. Follow the Camp Ground Trail for 0.6 miles up to the ridge overlooking the park.  The Campground Trail leads to Culler’s Overlook, which in my opinion is the best overlook in the park.  Culler’s Overlook is a platform that allows hikers to get above the trees to get an outstanding view of the Shenandoah River as it winds through the Shenandoah Valley toward Massanutten Mountain.  This is a great place to take sunset pictures and to watch the sun set behind Massanutten Mountain. After enjoying the view, return to the trail, turn right onto the Overlook Trail, and follow it for 0.5 mile.  Overlook Trail hikes along the ridge, but there are a lot of trees, so there are not the many good views of the river.  When hikers reach the visitor center, stay straight on to the Hemlock Hollow Trail for 0.5 miles to start the last leg of the hike that leads down off the ridge back to the river and your vehicle.  In total, the hike is an 8 mile loops, but because of the network of trails, hikers can easily choose to make their hike longer or shorter.

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Mountain Biking
Easy Parking
Family Friendly

Hike the Shenandoah River State Park Loop Reviews

While most people flock to Shenandoah National Park nearby, this park doesn't see as many visitors. I only did a portion of this trail, which was mostly wooded with great views from the ridge. I tent-camped in the park and it was very quiet.

This spot is ripe for landscape photographers in summer and fall. The river offers a nice, natural leading line for photographers. I'd recommend bringing a telephoto for some of the birds (if you like to photograph wildlife)!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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