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2.09 miles

Elevation Gain

482 ft

Route Type



Added by Alyssa Gregory

This is a relatively short hike which takes you to the summit of the highest peak in Shenandoah National Park, Hawksbill Mountain.

The trailhead has a small parking area at mile marker 46.7 on Skyline Drive, just past the Old Rag overlook (on the opposite side of the road) if you're driving south.

The hike is a 2-mile out-and-back that takes you right to the summit. The first ~2/3 of it is relatively flat and very easy walking through the woods. After that, you reach the spot where the trail joins Byrds Nest 2 Road (also marked as a Fire Road), where you will start walking uphill. The incline is steep and has lots of loose rocks but it's only ~1/3 of a mile so you just have to push through for a little while. When you get to the top, you'll see the Byrds Nest Shelter on the right and a beautiful view in front of you. This is not the summit yet - Turn right and walk a little bit farther up for the real summit. From the summit you can see Old Rag. The view is great but it can get a bit windy on the exposed summit so bring a windbreaker! There are plenty of good rocks to sit on and eat lunch.

This trail is dog and kid friendly - I have seen a lot of dogs (must be on a leash) and children on this trail both times I've done it (and the children were struggling less than me to get up that hill!).

When you are finished at the summit, you can retrace your steps back to the Upper Hawksbill Parking, or you can continue on the Lower Hawksbill Loop (I wrote another post about that one!). If you retrace your steps, be careful that when you get to the junction of Byrds Nest 2 Road and the trail that you go left onto the trail and don't continue down Byrds Nest 2 Road or you will end up about a 0.5 mile farther down Skyline Drive from where you parked.

This is a really beautiful hike to do the in the fall (although that can be said about all of Shenandoah National Park!).

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly

Upper Hawksbill Trail Reviews

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