Short hike along the Appalachian Trail to two viewpoints. Interesting geologic formation. 2.4 mile round trip hike with 835' elevation gain.

This unique hike on the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park is 2.4 miles round trip with an 835' elevation gain, and leads you to two viewpoints as well as a cool rock outcrop.

Access this hike from the Compton Gap parking area (elevation 2,145') on the Skyline Drive at Mile 10.4. Cross the Skyline Drive and take the white-blazed Appalachian Trail south for a moderate but rocky 0.8 miles.

At this point you'll come to a T-intersection with a concrete trail marker. At this marker the Appalachian Trail continues straight, and there are two blue-blazed trails, each 0.2 miles, that break off to the right or left. Turn right at this intersection and hike 0.2 miles to a viewpoint on a rocky outcrop. Views are oriented North with a 180 degree visibility.

Return to the intersection with the Appalachian Trail and continue straight across the trail on the other blue-blazed trail. This 0.2 mile trail descends very quickly and is quite steep and rocky. You'll come to a large boulder with a blue blaze leading to the top. Climb up the boulder for a nice viewpoint; however, parts of the view are obstructed by trees.

Climb down the boulder and descend around the left side of the outcrop to the bottom. Here you'll see one of the best geologic formations in Shenandoah National Park: 700 million year old columnar joints, which are ancient lava that cooled quickly and shrank into hexagonal forms.

When finished, simply return to the T-intersection and turn right on the Appalachian Trail, heading north to Compton Gap and cross the Skyline Drive to return to your car.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Camera
  • Hiking shoes
  • $20 for Shenandoah National Park entrance fee
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Activities Photography, Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Features
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Great view of fall leaves

Why rake leaves when you can hike up to look at them instead! Nice even in mid-November.

Good Quick Hike - Less Crowds

Great views toward the north where you can see Skyline Drive snake further up through the park towards Front Royal. It is also a fairly short hike that you can knockout and enjoy in about an hour, perfect for if you're heading out of the park towards the FR entrance and have time for one more quick hike.

Nice Fairly Easy Hike

Very nice views at the top. Well worth the effort. Just takes around 1 or 2 hours so you have plenty of time to do some other great hikes in this park.


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