Hike to Compton Peak

Virginia Compton Peak Parking Area

Added by Elyse Clark

  • 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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Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn



Easy Parking

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How to Get There

7 months ago

One of the most underrated peaks in the Shennandoah

I love the overlook here and it doesn't get nearly as much love as it should. It's also especially awesome to do along a backpacking trip in the summer where the views are essentially this big sea of green.

7 months ago

8 months ago

Check out the trees growing from a fallen tree

Check out the 3 large trees growing from a fallen tree on the Indian Run Shelter Fire Road. Located just off the Appalachian Trail on the left. Nature is amazing!

8 months ago

Added by Elyse Clark

Explorer. Hiker. Photographer.

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