Updated: 2 days ago
I've been sharing a bunch lately about Shenandoah National Park in Virginia on my website. As a DC local, I've been dozens of times and had the opportunity to do some of the best hikes there, but what about the easiest hikes?
Shenandoah offers a variety of easy hikes that are great for all ages and skill levels. Here are some easy hikes in Shenandoah National Park. For this post, these are all considered easy hikes, but I am going to put them in order from shortest to longest easy hikes so you can choose what works best for you!
This short hike along the Appalachian Trail leads to an incredible geologic feature, Fort Windham Rocks. After following the Appalachian Trail for around a 1/4 mile, you will turn onto the Dickey Ridge Trail, which leads to Carson Mountain. You will begin from Compton Gap Trailhead, along Skyline Drive, at mile 10.4.
The Fort Windham Rocks are deeply split boulders rising 50 feet above ground. If not paying attention, it's easy to miss the little spur off to the rock outcropping. AllTrails has it mapped spot on.
You can spend a few minutes scrambling up to the top (50ish feet) and check out the narrow slot you can squeeze through from one side to the other (start on the far side of the rock outcropping opposite the trail). The hike is almost all shaded as well, which is really nice! It only takes about 30 minutes.
This short 1.1-mile loop trail near mile 85.5 on Skyline Drive provides panoramic views, and the trail itself is relatively flat and easy.
This is an easy trail that comes with a big payoff. This short hike leads to the summit of Blackrock, which features impressive views of Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain.
If you choose, you can get to the true summit by doing some scrambling, so be sure to wear shoes with good traction and do not attempt it if the rock is wet.
There's a good amount of parking, but expect to see other adventurers with kids and dogs. Snakes also love to sun themselves on the warm rocks, so keep a watchful eye on your pets.
This is a wheelchair-accessible 1.4-mile loop trail near mile 43 on Skyline Drive. It's an easy, level hike with informative signs about the area's natural history.
This is a perfect, mild, flat trail to experience the solitude and sounds of nature in the park. Lots of birds, deer, and not very many people. It's considered very easy and great for all ages. It's stunning in the fall when the colors of the trees really pop!
This easy 1.2 mile hike starts at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.6, go left onto Dickey Ridge Trail). Explore the rich history of the Shenandoah Valley and National Park as you travel through this path featuring remnants of rock walls, a cemetery, and beautiful periwinkle flowers planted by residents who used to inhabit the area.
This hike is also a designated TRACK Trail, featuring a self-guided brochure and informational sign that turns your visit into a fun and exciting outdoor experience for kids of all ages. To find out more information about TRACK Trails and to log your adventure, visit the Kids in Parks website. Self-guided informational signs give visitors a brief history of the area.
This is an easy 1.3 mile hike on Loft Mountain that features several picturesque overlooks as it passes through woodlands of varying ages.
From the north end of the Loft Mountain Wayside Parking Area (mile 79.5), cross Skyline Drive and follow the blue-blazed Frazier Discovery Trail. Go right at the intersection and follow the steep uphill grade. Turn left where the trail joins the Appalachian Trail, staying on the blue-blazed trail. Turn left again at the next trail post to descend to your starting point.
This spot is also known for beautiful sunsets, making it a perfect end of the day hike after a day in Shenandoah National Park.
This is an easy 1.3 mile short hike down a fire road to a series of cascades that descend about 80 feet into a gorge. It is often waterless in dry season, so it's best to check conditions before going if you decide to do this hike.
Start from the Lands Run parking area (mile 9.2), follow the fire road downhill for about 0.6-mile and look for a small stream that flows under the road.
At just over 1.5 miles, this popular trail takes you to the summit of Stony Man Mountain. The views from the top are stunning, and the trailhead is at mile 41.7 on Skyline Drive.
Flat about half the time and rocky about half of the time, but it only required careful stepping—no jumping or scrambling. It is a great hike for beginners wanting to try something a little out of their comfort zone, and the great payoff at the summit is totally worth it! The path would likely be slippery and muddy after rain, but we went about two days after some rain occurred and found it to be perfectly stable in most areas
This is an easy 3.7-mile loop trail with a great view at the top. To access Snead Farm Trail, begin on Fox Hollow Nature Trail, which starts at mile 4.6. Snead Farm Trail (mile 5.1) may be accessed at the end of Fox Hollow. Park in the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center parking area.
This is one of the more difficult trails on this list because of the length and a small incline toward the top, but is well worth the effort!
Always check trail conditions and carry enough water and snacks, even on easy hikes. Shenandoah's trails vary in terrain, and being prepared for a safe and enjoyable hike is essential.
Starting at mile 49.4 on Skyline Drive, this easy 2-mile trail each way (4 miles round trip) takes you to the historic Rapidan Camp, the summer retreat of President Herbert Hoover. It's relatively flat and provides a glimpse into the past.
The trail takes you through a picturesque forest and follows the Rapidan River. Along the way, you'll pass remnants of the historic Rapidan Camp, including the Brown House, the Prime Minister's Cabin, and other structures. This is a great hike for the history buffs out there!
This is also drivable, but if you choose to hike, take the beautiful Mill Prong Trail a mile and a half south of here. It's a 4-mile round trip hike along a stream to the Camp. You can also start here and take the Mill Prong Horse Trail that is ahead on the right. If you follow the road all the way, it's a 12.6-mile round trip, and you may encounter dust and vehicles along the road.
There you have some of the easiest hikes in Shenandoah National Park. I hope this helps as you plan your trip! For the best hikes in Shenandoah, check out this post with more details!