16 trails in the Shenandoah Valley that you don’t want to miss
Stephanie didn’t grow up hiking – or really being outside other than playing with friends. Kyle was a regular boy scout. It wasn’t until our late twenties that we even started hiking together. It is one of the only hobbies that we both enjoy, mostly, as long as there are minimal switchbacks.
Not everyone likes the same kind of trails, and that is totally ok. But we are rounding up our favorite ones for you. Some are popular, some less so. Most have great views (something we love), water access (something Marietta loves) and are dog-friendly.
We recommend getting to the trailhead by 9 am for a morning hike to beat the crowds and get the most comfortable weather. Remember to recreate responsibly when you get out and explore.
Short and sweet hikes
These are all less than three miles with little to no elevation. Unless stated otherwise, they are also free and dog-friendly.
- Stoney Creek Park Trail– Gravel path with lots of benches to sit and birdwatch from.
- Rockfish Valley Trails– Plenty of options based on your time and preferences.
- Wintergreen Mountain Trails– tons of mini hikes to try! We like to drive around and do a handful at a time. Raven’s Roost is very popular!
- Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail– Bring a flashlight! If you start at the East trailhead, it is less elevation.
- Jack Albright Loop Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway- Start from the parking lot by going to the trailhead on the left. It’s a little over 3 miles and tends to be quieter since most people are going to Humpback Rocks.
- Sherando Lake Loop Trail– There are plenty of spots for a quick swim on the 2.5 mile loop. Additional fees may apply.
- South River Greenway in Waynesboro- Easy, paved trail. When the water is high enough, you can float in intertubes down the river! Pro Tip: Grab lunch from Alex’s Taco Truck and frozen custard at Kline’s Dairy Bar while you’re in the area.
- Rivanna Trail in Charlottesville- Squeeze in a walk before dinner on this beautiful path around downtown.
- Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail in Piney River- excellent for long distance cycling, horseback riding, and flat trail runs. It is an out and back so you can turn around when ready.
Trails that warrant a half-day commitment
Whether it is because of the commute or the distance on the trail, these are best when you have a few hours to spend exploring. On the weekends, we love stopping at Kings, the popcorn and hotdog truck, at the Afton Overlook for a snack. Their Chicago and spicy cheese flavors are amazing!
- Humpback Rocks on the Blue Ridge Parkway- Start from the parking lot by going to the trail on the right. It will get your heart rate up immediately. It has excellent sunset views but the rock scrambling at the top can be risky for your dog. Bring your water bottle and some snacks – you’ll want to sit at the top for a while!
- Black Rock in Shenandoah National Park- A short hike with a great view. Because of that, we love to bring dinner and eat at the summit or at one of the roadside overlooks during sunset. This one takes some time because it is a bit of a drive from the Indigo, but well worth it. Additional fees may apply.
- Big Run in Shenandoah National Park- A quiet and peaceful loop, this one is excellent for the greenery. Half is uphill (and therefore, the other half is downhill); choose your direction based on preference. Additional fees may apply.
- Turk Mountain in Shenandoah National Park- Another excellent sunset hike. We love this one because there is a viewpoint to the west and the east. Rock scrambling at the top. Additional fees may apply.
- Jones Run Falls in Shenandoah National Park- A smaller waterfall than Crabtree (and a little easier incline) but lots of fun stream crossings and shallow pools to play in. Additional fees may apply.
- Crabtree Falls– Whether you cut the hike short or go the whole way, you have multiple opportunities to see the falls. It’s can be a hard, crowded path to the top, but well worth it. Additional fees may apply.
- Three Ridges off the Blue Ridge Parkway- This trail can take the full day and be fairly challenging. Pro Tip: Stop by Devil’s Backbone for dinner and drinks on the way back.