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Virginia Backpacking Trails

Asheville, NC: Mount Rogers via Massie Gap

Mount Rogers via Massie Gap: A state high point, the Appalachian Trail, and wild ponies all in one hike—jackpot!

Washington, D.C.: Old Rag via Berry Hollow

Take the lesser-traveled route up one of Shenandoah National Park's most storied peaks.

Shenandoah National Park: Moormans River

This 4.2-mile out-and-back hike is a local’s favorite, climbing gently from the flood-torn banks of the Moormans River to one of the most impressive waterfalls in the park.

Shenandoah National Park: Little Hogback to Overall Run Falls

Take this 8.8-mile out-and-back dayhike or overnight to escape high-season crowds; it stitches together a lesser-known route leading to a photo-worthy waterfall.

Charlottesville: Three Ridges Loop

Enjoy a quiet weekend on this 12.3-mile loop to creekside campsites, a sea of mountains, and an excellent waterfall in the 4,608-acre Three Ridges Wilderness.

Washington, DC: Sky Meadows State Park

Centuries-old settler ruins and fabulous forest overlooks make this quiet 4.7-mile loop one of the best dayhikes within an hour’s drive of downtown D.C.

Roanoke: New River Trail (Hiwassee to Shot Tower)

This 15.9-mile hike or bike trip follows an abandoned railroad along the banks of the New River, which local geologists claim is the second oldest river in the world.

Shenandoah National Park: Riprap Trail

Gurgling mountain streams and peaceful vistas line this 9-mile loop in southern Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park: Whiteoak Canyon Trail

This 6.6-mile out-and-back canyon hike is fantastically verdant and loaded with glistening cascades, including the park’s second highest waterfall.

Shenandoah National Park: Turk Branch Trail

Solitude rules on this 6.2-mile out-and-back past the headwaters of a lively mountain stream where deer and black bears roam by the skeleton of a weatherbeaten homestead.

Assateague National Seashore: Park Loop

Watch wild ponies trot by the seashore on this 11.1-mile loop along a unique barrier island. Bring a bucket and hunt for clams on the isle’s massive, undeveloped beaches.

Shenandoah National Park: Mathews Arm Loop

This rugged, 16.8-mile, 2-day backpacking trip reveals classic Appalachian wonders: idyllic waterfall-laden hollows, reborn woodlands, and scenic backcountry campsites.

Washington, DC: First Manassas Trail

March 4.2 miles back in time to July 21, 1861, where General Stonewall Jackson led an epic battle on this ground at Manassas National Battlefield Park.

Washington, DC: Three Top Mountain Loop

In just a weekend, you can travel from wooded ridges to gentle peaks to quiet hollows on this 16.5-mile lasso in George Washington National Forest.

Shenandoah National Park: Big Devils Stairs

This 5.6-mile lasso loop departs the popular Big Devils Stairs hike, scramble upstream to waterfalls and connecting with a forgotten trail free of crowds.

Richmond: Beaver Lake Trail

Flee summer’s heat spells on this relaxing 2-mile loop around a breezy lake in Pocahontas State Park, which is just a few minutes by car from downtown.

Shenandoah National Park: Hazel Mountain

This 9.6-mile hike into a narrow wooded valley passes through old settler farmlands, impressive waterfalls, and mountain overlooks to a quiet creekside lunch spot.

Washington, DC: Wild Oak Loop

Find your inner hermit on this 26.3-mile loop in George Washington National Forest, complete with endless scenery, heaps of wildlife, and oh-so-quiet campsites.

Roanoke: Mount Rogers

Catch great views on your way up Virginia’s highest mountain on this 7.2-mile out-and-back through the open balds and ridges of the Appalachians.

Washington, DC: South Fork Quantico Creek Loop

Go ahead: Bag work early and swing off the Beltway for a quick 4-mile hike or trail run through the rolling piedmont of Prince William Forest Park.

Roanoke: Pine Mountain Loop

Scattered along this 11.3-mile dayhike (or overnighter) is a bumper crop of mountain views, considered some of the best in southern Virginia.

Shenandoah National Park: Thornton Gap to the Pinnacles

Go 5 or 10 miles on this dayhike, which features skyline views of migrating hawks, the Shenandoah River Valley, and nearby towns.

Roanoke, VA: Little Stony Creek

Twist through a sandstone gorge with a handful of waterfalls on this 7.8-miler topping out at a tabletop overlook above Jefferson National Forest.

Appalachian Trail: Mount Rogers Headquarters to VA 86

This succinct 3.8-mile dayhike winds across Brushy Mountain’s ridgetop, traverses a small saddle, then crests Locust Mountain before a final descent.

Washington, DC: Manassas Bridle Trail Loop

Avoid the crowds on this 3-miler that explores less-traveled trails and an old Confederate headquarters in Manassas National Battlefield Park.

Shenandoah National Park: Skyland to Big Meadows via Appalachian Trail

Save this 13.6-miler for a weekday in the spring when crowds are thin and haze-free views stretch for miles (patches of flowers and wildlife, too).

Washington, DC: Great Falls Loop

This 4.5-miler runs along steep cliffs to two photogenic overlooks above an impressive waterfall on the Potomac River.

Shenandoah National Park: Beahms Gap to Thornton Gap

Mature oaks, overgrown homesites, a mountain hut, and a scenic viewpoint highlight this 3.6-mile dayhike on the Appalachian Trail.

Appalachian Trail: Damascus, VA to Summit Cut, VA

Tackle a rigorous 1,000-foot climb, traverse fields, and cross an impressive gorge on this 15.8-mile section.

Appalachian Trail: Summit Cut, VA to Dickey Gap

This weeklong hike tours photogenic balds, rhododendron-choked valleys, and grassy hillsides with wild ponies in Grayson Highlands State Park.

Appalachian Trail: VA 86 to US 11

Highlights along this 6.7-mile section hike include: long-stretched views from Glade Mountain, colorful wildflowers, and Settlers Museum (fresh water, seasonal fruits and veggies available to hikers).

Appalachian Trail: Dickey Gap to Mount Rogers Headquarters

This 13.1-miler twists around several 3,400-foot peaks then dips into wooded valleys and traces an old narrow-gauge railroad route.

Appalachian Trail: US 501 to VA 607

Take a Blue Ridge summit tour to the tops of Big Rocky Row, Little Rocky Row, Bluff Mountain, and Punchbowl Mountain on this 10.7-mile hike where views extend south to the James River.

Appalachian Trail: VA 56 to Three Ridges Overlook

You’ll travel past Harpers Creek Shelter and continue on a steady ascent over the summits of the Three Ridges in George Washington National Forest on this 10.2-mile trek.

Appalachian Trail: US 60 to VA 56

Wander hills painted in wildflowers and crest several crags before charging down 3,000 feet to the Tye River on this 24-mile trek.

Appalachian Trail: VA 607 to US 60

This 10.2-miler crosses a new suspension bridge over the Pedlar River and curves around the southern tip of Lynchburg Reservoir. Bonus: Cool off and snap photos at the waterfall next to Brown Mountain Creek.

Appalachian Trail: US 460 to VA 635

Thump. Thump. Thump. Raise your heart rate while climbing to the postcard-worthy balds on Peters Mountain. This 19.6-mile ridgewalk traces the Virginia-West Virginia border.

Appalachian Trail: VA 663 to US 460

Before you lose 2,500 feet in the final two miles on this 11.2-miler, enjoy the fern-draped ridges and sweeping valley views on Angels Rest.

Appalachian Trail: VA 606 to VA 663

This 15-miler starts out gently along Dismal Creek then cranks up 1,300 feet to Sugar Run Mountain. Take the side trip to Falls of Dismal—a multi-tiered cascade and local swimming hole.

Appalachian Trail: VA 608 to VA 606

This 4.6-mile dayhike leaves Lickskillet Hollow and follows Brushy Mountain’s ridgetop before dropping down to cross Kimberling Creek on a suspension bridge.

Appalachian Trail: VA 601 to VA 42

Follow an old gravel road on this 5.7-mile dayhike from Rocky Gap to Kelly Knob where mountain skylines turn fiery pink at sunset.

Appalachian Trail: VA 42 to VA 624

Go from the watery flats of Sinking Creek to the knifelike ridges of Cove Mountain on this 26.5-mile leg. Other highlights: A 300-year-old Keffer Oak and the Medieval-named rock called Dragons Tooth.

Appalachian Trail: VA 635 to VA 613

Wind Rock. The first explorers nailed the name of this breezy point perched above a sea of wooded wilderness in two states.

Appalachian Trail: I-77 to VA 608

Numerous campsites, two shelters, and a viewpoint dot this 12.7-mile section hike. Note: Native wintergreen grows along the trail.

Appalachian Trail: VA 613 to VA 601

Overnight at War Spur Shelter on this 7.7-mile ridgeline tour linking Potts Mountain and Lone Pine Peak then drop into Rocky Gap (one of many Rocky Gaps along the AT spine).

Appalachian Trail: VA 624 to VA 311

This popular 5.9-mile stretch crosses rolling farmlands before climbing Catawba Mountain at Beckner Gap. Bring your camera: Major viewpoints showcase magnificent views of valley.

Appalachian Trail: Blue Ridge Parkway to US 501

Travel under The Guillotine–a large boulder hanging precariously over the trail–and test your mettle with a ridge climb to Highcock Knob on this 13.7-miler. Watch for seasonal blueberries and box turtles along the trail.

Appalachian Trail: VA 614 to Blue Ridge Parkway

You’ll gain 3,000 feet by the end of this 12.9-miler that runs from Jennings Creek to the top of Apple Orchard Mountain.

Appalachain Trail: VA 43 to VA 614

This 6.1-miler runs from Bearwallow Gap, traces the horseshoe-shaped ridge of Cove Mountain, and descends to a great swimming hole in Jennings Creek.

Appalachian Trail: FS 191 to VA 43

There’s no shortage of scenic overlooks on this 14.8-mile section that crisscrosses the Blue Ridge Parkway four times.

Appalachian Trail: US 220 to FS 191

Wind through mid-Atlantic woodlands and farmland to Fullhardt Knob on this 5.3-mile dayhike. Along the way, pass a collier’s pit where charcoal was made for nearby iron furnaces during the 19th century.

Appalachian Trail: VA 311 to US 220

Highlights of this 19.8-miler include an overhanging rock ledge at McAfee Knob, spectacular views along Tinker Cliffs, and a ridgewalk above Carvin Cove Reservoir.

Appalachian Trail: Bootens Gap to Fishers Gap

Link the wooded summit of Hazeltop Mountain, the rugged cliffs of Blackrock, and Big Meadows (home to deer and black bear) on this 6.9-mile route in Shenandoah National Park.

Appalachian Trail: Fishers Gap to Stony Man Overlook

This 8.5-mile hike passes vertical cliffs, weaves through spruce and fir stands, and traverses the northern slopes of Hawksbill Mountain, the highest peak in Shenandoah.

Appalachian Trail: Stony Man Overlook to Thornton Gap

Treat yourself to far-reaching panoramas from Marys Rock—arguably some of the best views in Shenandoah National Park—before a steady descent to Thornton Gap on this 6.9 miler.

Appalachian Trail: Swift Run Gap to Bootens Gap

Countless views, fragrant pines, and a worthy side trip to South River Falls highlight this 11.6-mile hike in Shenandoah National Park.

Appalachian Trail: Doyles River Overlook to Pinefield Gap

On this 8.8-mile hike, you’ll wind around Big Flat Mountain and gaze at Shenandoah peaks from Ivy Creek Overlook. Kodak moment: Take the side trip down Doyles River Trail to photograph several waterfalls.

Appalachian Trail: Pinefield Gap to Swift Run Gap

Savor postcard-worthy views of the Blue Ridge from Hightop Mountain on this 10.9-mile hike in Shenandoah National Park.

Appalachian Trail: Blackrock to Doyles River Overlook

This quick 3.2-mile hike in Shenandoah National Park traverses the Blue Ridge to Doyles River Overlook, where views extend south across wooded slopes.

Appalachian Trail: Rockfish Gap to Beagle Gap

This rolling Blue Ridge hike travels 5.2 miles and features bird’s-eye views from Bear Den Mountain before its descent to Beagle Gap.

Appalachian Trail: Beagle Gap to Blackrock

Find your rhythm as you ascend, descend—again and again—between rocky overlooks and deeply cut gaps on this 15-mile trek in Shenandoah National Park.

Appalachian Trail: Gravel Springs Gap to US 522

Travel through white ash and yellow poplar, skid down steep ridges, and sing Hallelujah at the scenic outposts on this 12.3-mile leg in Shenandoah National Park.

Appalachian Trail: Thornton Gap to Gravel Springs Gap

Frequent overlooks, lush landscapes, and three Blue Ridge summits highlight this 14.3-mile section in Shenandoah National Park.

Appalachian Trail: US 522 to Ashby Gap

This 18.8-miler traverses High Knob’s southern slopes, passes three shelters and ends with an optional side trip into Sky Meadows State Park.

Appalachian Trail: Ashby Gap to VA 605

Go up, down, and around several geological obstacles and into shady stream hollows on this 6.8-mile dayhike.

Appalachian Trail: US 11 to VA 42

On this 11.8-mile stretch, you’ll climb a seven-foot stile (arguably the AT’s tallest), cruise cow-filled fields, pass a centuries-old cemetery, and briefly trace the North Fork Holston River.

Appalachian Trail: VA 42 to VA 623

Go from flat lowlands to high ridgetops–you’ll gain more than 2,000 feet–on this 17.1-miler that traverses wildflower-laced Chestnut Ridge and the rocky backbone of Garden Mountain.

Lexington, VA: Roaring Run/Hoop Hole Loop

Reach waterfall nirvana in the Jefferson National Forest.

Appalachian Trail: Three Ridges Overlook to Dripping Rock

This 4.3-mile hike starts at Three Ridges Overlook, then contours wooded Blue Ridge slopes to Dripping Rock—a prime spot to watch the sun drop over pastoral landscapes.

Appalachian Trail: VA 623 to I-77

This relocated section avoids frequent stream crossings along Little Wolf Creek. Instead, you’ll cruise an old road and railroad grade, then contour the slopes of Brushy Mountain (covered in seasonal mountain laurel blooms).

Richmond: Shenandoah Mountain Trail to Jerrys Run

Camp two nights on this 15.7-mile loop through a remote and rugged corner of Ramseys Draft Wilderness in west-central Virginia.

Shenandoah National Park: Sugarloaf Loop

A fantastic four-season trek, this 5.5-mile hike near the Appalachian Trail roams around Hogback Mountain in Shenandoah National Park.

Lexington, VA: Apple Orchard Falls via Appalachian Trail

Catch the Jefferson National Forest in peak wildflower bloom on this 27-miler in the Virginia mountains.

Washington, DC: Bull Run-Occoquan Trail

This 18-mile trek winds in and out of regional parks, wooded valleys, and open fields on a two-day trip that’s a short drive from D.C.

Shenandoah National Park: Old Rag Mountain

Navigate switchbacks, boulder scrambles, and rock mazes on this 8.6-mile loop that ascends Old Rag Mountain, one of Shenandoah’s most famous peaks.

Virginia Beach, VA: Long Creek Overlook

A casual day hike along the dunes of the coastal forest where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Roanoke, VA: Rock Castle Gorge Loop

Explore the summits and history of a rare trail network along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Shenandoah National Park: Knob Mountain Loop

Sample both high ridges and stream-filled valleys on this challenging 12.1-mile dayhike in Shenandoah National Park.

Washington, DC: G.R. Thompson Loop

Pick a sport: fish, bird watch, or hike. Next: tour parts or all of this 5.8-mile loop for a quick getaway from the noisy Capitol City.

Shenandoah National Park: Overall Run

Follow this cascading stream to scenic Shenandoah vistas along this 12.1-mile loop.

Virginia Beach, VA: First Landing State Park

Brimming with beach and bay views, this Virginia Beach 9.9-miler tours cypress swamps, coastal forest (shrouded in Spanish moss), and idyllic marshlands.

Appalachian Trail: VA 605 to Snickers Gap

The AT continues its rollercoaster ride across the Blue Ridge on this 7-mile ridge-to-hollow route that passes Bears Den Rocks overlook where classic views of Shenandoah Valley are revealed.

Virginia Beach, VA: Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Sea turtles, white-tailed dear, and snow geese are just a few of the diverse wildlife species you might spot on this 7.6-mile coastal hike.

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA: Sharp Top Mountain

Popular with Blue Ridge Parkway travelers for more than 150 years, this steep, 3.2-mile out-and-back climbs to the rocky summit of one of Virginia’s highest peaks.

Read Mountain Preserve, VA: Buzzards Rock

Roosting buzzards, a city skyline, and a 2,350-foot peak lure hikers to this 3.4-mile out-and-back inside Roanoke’s new Read Mountain Preserve.

Roanoke, VA: McAfee Knob

The reward on this famous, 7.5-mile hike is a sweeping ridgeline view of the Catawba Valley framed by a striking rock ledge.

Charlottesville, VA: White Rock Falls

On this 4.6-mile loop, enjoy lunch beside a boulder-lined creek then burn off your meal with a steep climb beside the White Rock Falls cascades.

Roanoke, VA: Dragon’s Tooth

This rocky climb up Cove Mountain ends with a heart-pounding scramble to the top of the Dragon’s Tooth, a 35-foot quartzite and sandstone tower.

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA: Flat Top Mountain

This 5.4-miler in the Blue Ridge Mountains climbs through poplars and oaks to the 4,001-foot summit of Flat Top Mountain, the tallest of the Peaks of Otter.

Mount Rogers National Recreation Area: Iron Mountain Loop

This well-trodden route passes fishermen, cyclists, and AT thru-hikers before ascending the quiet, sun-dappled slopes of southwest Virginia’s Iron Mountain.

Shenandoah National Park: Lewis Spring Falls

This *3.3-mile loop behind Big Meadows Lodge drops past rocks and ridgelines to Shenandoah’s 4th highest falls.

Shenandoah National Park: Hawksbill Summit Loop (WP414 – 453)

This *2.8-mile loop swings past talus fields, wildflowers, and a falcon nesting area, capping them off with a gob-smacking view from Shenandoah’s highest peak.

Roanoke, VA: Crabtree Falls Trail

Five cascading waterfalls are the draw on this popular 4.2-mile out-and-back that starts with a climb and ends with a leafy streamside ramble.

Blue Ridge Parkway: Humpback Rocks Loop

Explore an 1890’s mountain farm on this 4.3-mile lasso loop that tackles a 700-foot climb to craggy boulders for expansive parkway views.

Blue Ridge Parkway: Harkening Hill

Highlights along this 3.5-mile loop include whitetail deer, a 3,364-foot summit, precariously perched boulders, and a 19th-century farmhouse.

Lexington, VA: Lake Robertson Loop

Look for blackberries and bears on this 4.4-mile loop around an activity-filled lake complex in the southern Shenandoah Valley.

Washington, DC: Duncan Knob

This 8.7-mile round-trip has two tough, rocky ascents that lead to solitude atop the Massanutten Range.

Richmond, VA: Belle Isle Loop

This seven-mile circuit traverses a mini wilderness right downtown, cruising the south banks of the James River before crossing onto the maple-shaded shores of Belle Isle. From there, head to the north shore hills and views of the river’s class IV whitewater.

Shenandoah National Park: Rocky Top Loop

Escape Skyline Drive to discover secret summits and hidden valleys.

Shenandoah National Park: Rocky Top Loop

This seldom-travelled loop hike in the Southwestern section of Shenandoah National Park offers an incredible sampling of what the park has to offer (wildlife, rocky ridges, trout steams, lush forested valleys) without the crowds and traffic that can take the “wild” out of the Shenandoah wilderness.

Roanoke, VA: Little Dry Run Wilderness

Score quiet views of the southern Virginia highlands on this lush loop.


Charlottesville: Three Ridges Loop

Enjoy a quiet weekend on this 12.3-mile loop to creekside campsites, a sea of mountains, and an excellent waterfall in the 4,608-acre Three Ridges Wilderness.

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