Calling all hikers! If you’re looking for a vacation destination that offers plenty of opportunities for day hikes, as well as a bit of pampering at one of the region’s finest bed and breakfast inns, you should consider planning a trip to Harrisonburg, VA. Located in the Shenandoah Valley, the region offers a wide variety of activities for the outdoor enthusiast, including a network of hundreds of miles of Shenandoah Valley National Park Hiking Trails at varying levels of difficulty.
Experience Shenandoah National Park Hiking
Shenandoah National Park has a whopping 500 miles of trails, about 30 percent of which are in designated wilderness areas. About 100 miles of the trails are actually part of the Appalachian Trail, as well.
It’s easy to head to the Shenandoah National Park Hiking trails when you stay at By the Side of the Road Bed and Breakfast in Harrisonburg, VA. The closest entrance to the park, Swift Run Gap, is an easy 20-mile drive from the inn. Be sure to fuel up with a delicious breakfast before you head out on your adventure!
Once you enter the park, you’ll find parking areas at various trailheads. Three trails that are close to the Swift Run Gap include Bearfence, Hawksbill north of the entrance and Doyles River Falls south of the entrance. Every hike offers something different, whether it’s seasonal wildflowers, a beautiful waterfall or wading pool, or the lush forest.
- Bearfence features two options: Bearfence Rock Scramble, a moderate 1-mile lariat trail with an elevation gain of 311 feet; and Bearfence Viewpoint, an easy 1.1-mile round-trip trail with an elevation gain of 305 feet.
- Upper Hawksbill is an easy 2.1-mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 520 feet.
- Doyles River Falls has two options: Upper and Lower Doyles River Falls, a moderate 3.3mile hike with an elevation gain of 1,189 feet; and Doyles River Falls and Jones Run Falls, a strenuous 7.7-mile hike with an elevation gain of 2,233 feet.
Is There a Trail Right for Me?
While it might seem daunting that the park offers 500 miles of trails, hikers of all skill levels can rest assured there is something for everyone. There are five different ratings for the hiking trails, starting with “Easiest,” which means the trail is mostly level or might have a slight incline and that it’s generally less than 3 miles long. At the other end of the spectrum are the “Very Strenuous” trails, which are steep, including challenging terrain and are usually 8 miles or longer. Take a look at this Hiking Difficulty Key to familiarize yourself with the different levels so you can select a hike that’s right for you!
A Few Important Reminders!
While you’re on your amazing adventure, don’t forget to:
- Take plenty of water with you on your hike. You’ll need at least one quart of water per hour to stay hydrated.
- Take your map! You can print map from the park website, or pick up a free map at the entrance station.
- Leave what you find and pack in-pack out. You might discover some really interesting artifacts along the way, however, they are protected by law, so you can look but don’t touch. In addition, you can help keep the park clean and in pristine condition for others to enjoy by keeping your trash in your backpack while you’re on the trail and throwing it away when you return to the park entrance.
Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive
If you aren’t much on hiking, no problem. You can experience the Blue Ridge Mountains in your car on the Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive. This 105-mile drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains offers incredible views and plenty of photo-worthy overlooks along the way. In fact, there are 75 of them!
Download Our Free Vacation Guide
Before you begin planning your trip to the Shenandoah Valley, download our free Vacation Guide for all kinds of helpful information on things to do and see in the area. When it comes to accommodations, we invite you to stay at By the Side of the Road while you’re in Harrisonburg. Whether you are looking for a charming cottage or a luxurious suite, we have something for everyone.
Photo Credit: Alex Ansley / Shenandoah Valley / Flickr