This strenuous 12.1-mile loop delivers a top-to-bottom look at classic Appalachian scenery, from high ridges to trout-filled streams to grassy valleys. Start the tour by heading left on the Appalachian Trail, then join the Jeremys Run Trail and switchback down along the stream; turn right on the Knob Mountain Cutoff Trail at mile .7. Climb steeply back up, then veer left on the Knob Mountain Trail and roll to the 2,865-foot summit at mile 3.4, where views of the Shenandoah Valley await. The trail then descends again, offering peeks of Massanutten Mountain and the town of Luray through the trees, before tracing a ridge—watch for Jeremys Run below and Neighbor Mountain across the valley. At mile 6.7, hang a left on Jeremys Run Trail and walk on to pass a mini-cascade, old stone walls, and a forest of white pine and sycamore. You’ll cross the stream more than a dozen times as you hike past rocky waterside bluffs to the Knob Mountain Cutoff Trail junction at mile 11.4. Bear right and retrace your steps to return to the trailhead.
Info: (540) 999-3500; nps.gov/shen
Hike provided by Johnny Molloy, author of Day and Overnight Hikes in Shenandoah National Park (Menasha Ridge Press).
Location: 38.7383499145508, -78.3085098266602