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Best Shenandoah National Park Hiking Trails

Shenandoah National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks on the east coast. It is home to some of the greatest hiking trails for experiencing the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We have hiked several of these trails numerous times, yet there is always something new to see and experience.

Here are our favorite Shenandoah hiking trails to fuel your outdoor “adventurelust”.

Best Hikes in the Shenandoah

Old Rag

I went to college in the Shenandoah Valley and had always heard about this hike (Shout out JMU Dukes!). Originally, I misheard the name of the trail and for the longest time remembered the name as “Old Hag”. I have since been corrected.

We have climbed Old Rag a number of times and it never gets old. I am particularly fond of the rock scramble where there is no defined path. You kind of just find your own way, hopping from rock to rock, pulling yourself up and then crawling back down through crevices. It is by no means a rock climbing adventure requiring special equipment or exceptional strength. With just a bit of agility, anyone can complete this portion of the hike. The challenging rock scramble followed by the incredible view, make for one rewarding hike.

Old Rag is a Shenandoah favorite and one of the most popular hikes on the east coast. It is not uncommon for a long line of hikers to be waiting for their turn to go through the rock scramble. My best advice is to go early, or if you are feeling particularly adventurous, make it into a sunrise hike for a view you won’t forget.

Duration: Approx. 5.5 hours
Distance: About 9 miles (loop)
Elevation Gain: 2,415 ft
Click here for map and trail info.

 Strickler Knob

This hike is a bit more challenging with a rock scramble, a small rock wall, and several ups and downs. The trail leads up to Strickler Knob summit, a 360 degree overlook of Luray and New Market. While I am not generally a fan of “out-and-back” hikes, this one still makes my list of favorite hikes for its challenging and fun aspects.

Duration: Approximately 5 hours
Distance: 5.4 miles (out-and-back, distance can be shortened)
Elevation gain: 2,140 ft.
Click here for map and trail info. 

Strickler Knob hiking trail, Shenandoah National Park
One of the many viewpoints along the Strickler Knob hiking trail.

Mary’s Rock

Thousands of people visit Skyline Drive each year as it is one of the most scenic drives in Virginia. Although you can easily take in the views from any overlook along the road, many of the outstanding views can only be seen after a few miles of hiking. Mary’s Rock is one of the many hikes along Skyline Drive that provide incredible views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

Starting from Jewell Hollow Overlook, we hiked along the trail passing the remains of an old homestead and several outlooks. Following the lead of some hikers in front of us, we stopped at Pinnacle overlook to enjoy a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trail to Mary’s Rock also overlaps with the Appalachian Trail, so about half way up you will run into the hiker hut (Byrd’s Nest #3).

The summit is a great place to enjoy a snack or lunch, but don’t stop there. Most hikers crowd this area as they stake out a spot on the rock for lunch, but if you keep climbing upward toward the back, you can escape the crowds for a moment of solitude. This is where we had our most rewarding moment, alone with the gorgeous view.

Distance: Approximately 6 miles (out-and-back from Jewell Hollow Overlook)
Duration: 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,000 ft.
Click here for map and trail info.

White Oaks Canyon / Cedar Run Loop

Last but certainly not least is White Oaks Canyon, the hiking and water adventure all wrapped up in one. Combining two out-and-back trails to make one big loop, this hike is a little over 8 miles, some of which are switch backs. (Everybody loves switch backs.)

Unlike the other hikes included on this list, the White Oaks Canyon Trail does not feature grand mountain top views. Instead, it is known for its many waterfalls, smaller cascades, natural swimming holes and even a water slide! Don’t be shy! Take off your boots, plop your bum on the top of the rock slide, push off and enjoy your way down. It is definitely cold, but also refreshing.

Duration: Approximately 5 hours
Distance: 8.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,450 ft
Click here for map and trail info.

Scott White Oaks Canyon hiking trail, Shenandoah National Park
Scott resting along the trail.

Shenandoah National Park is undoubtedly one of the best national parks in the USA for hiking. Trails are plentiful, diverse, well maintained, and accessible. These mountains also contain a wealth of trails, rock climbing opportunities, and swimming holes, so go out, explore, and find your next adventure!

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Shenandoah National Park hiking trails, Pinterest


Cecilia is a bubbly Filipino-American with an affinity for constant change...that or a 10 second attention span. Refusing to sit still, she travels the world, in pursuit of adventure, excitement and meaningful experiences. She holds a Masters degree in International Development and Public Policy, and a BA in Business Management.

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