The 10 Best Hikes in Shenandoah National Park You Won’t Want To Miss

Planning a trip to Shenandoah National Park?

As National Park enthusiasts, avid hikers, and full-time travelers we are always looking for the best places to explore in nature.

Shenandoah is a stunning park, nestled in one of our favorite mountain ranges in the United States. You won’t want to miss these 10 best hikes in Shenandoah National Park during your visit to this special corner of Virginia!

About Shenandoah National Park

A beautiful curve of Skyline Drive in Virginia with views of layers of mountains and green trees beyond a short stone wall

Shenandoah At A Glance:

  • Location: Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, USA
  • Entrance fee: $30 for a 7-day pass (National Park Passes are accepted and will save you money if you plan to visit 3 or more NPS sites in a year)
    • Front Royal Entrance (north entrance) at U.S. 340
    • Thornton Gap Entrance at U.S. 211
    • Swift Run Gap Entrance at U.S. 33
    • Rockfish Gap Entrance (south entrance) east of Waynesboro off U.S. Highway 250
  • Best Time To Visit: Spring for smaller crowds, flowing waterfalls, and wildflowers, summer for perfect weather, and fall for beautiful foliage (fall and summer will be busier times in the park)
  • Top Attractions: Skyline Drive scenic road, 500 miles of hiking trails, nearby Luray Caverns, a section of the Appalachian Trail, camping
  • Yearly Visitors: Roughly 1.5 million visitors a year

Best Hikes in Shenandoah National Park

A woman in a blue coat walking with her brown fluffy dog over a rusty metal bridge crossing a rocky stream in the middle of a bright green forest

As full-time RVers, we travel all over North America in search of the best places to hike, camp, and explore nature.

Since 2021 we have traveled to over 35 National Parks, and countless state parks, and hiked thousands of miles.

Shenandoah National Park is one of our favorite parks in the U.S. and after hiking over 20 trails in the park, these are the 10 hikes we think top the charts in Shenandoah National Park:

1. Old Rag

Hiking couple standing on Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park, with layers of green mountains stretching out behind them

Old Rag Mountain is our favorite trail in Shenandoah National Park.

While not an easy trail by any means, the hike itself is interesting and fun (with several sections of rock scrambling) and leads to some of the most breathtaking views in the park.

Topped with granite and surrounded by panoramic mountain vistas and green valleys, Old Rag is a challenging but doable hike that should not be missed during your visit to the park.

From winding your way through lush forest to navigating through the boulder-filled playground, you will emerge at the summit feeling tired and glad you made the trek.

This is an extremely popular trail that requires reserving an advanced permit for most of the year. You will encounter many other hikers along the trail, and as hikers who prefer more off-the-beaten-path trails we thought this might impact how we enjoyed the trail, but after doing the trail it is easy to see why it is so loved!

Hikers standing below a large boulder while hiking up Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park

Important Note: From March 1 to November 30 hiking to the summit of Old Rag does require a permit. Tickets cost $2 and can be reserved up to 30 days in advance (800 tickets are available each day; 400 the full month in advance, with the other half released 5 days in advance). Tickets are slotted for the day, not a specific time – although we recommend arriving early to secure parking at the trailhead rather than down the road in the overflow lot.

You can reserve your Old Rag Ticket here on Recreation.gov

Old Rag Mountain Loop Hike Details:

  • Length: 9.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,595 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 4.5 – 5.5 hours
  • Dog Friendly?: No

2. Doyles River Falls

Male hiker standing with his arms up in the middle of the bright white Upper Doyles River waterfall in Shenandoah National Park

The Doyles River Falls trail is one of our favorite Shenandoah waterfall hikes! It features not one, but two stunning waterfalls – the Upper Doyles River Falls (63 feet high) and Lower Doyles River Falls (28 feet high).

The trail is particularly breathtaking in the spring when the dense, bright green vegetation is in full bloom, and the falls are at their fullest and most powerful.

Bright white falls in a dense green forest that make up lower Doyles River Falls in Shenandoah National Park
Lower Doyles River Falls

We felt the trail to the Doyles River Falls was one that left us feeling most removed from the outside world and most immersed in nature.

Everything was green, almost as if you were enclosed in an enchanted forest, with nothing but branches and leaves all around. 

If you are visiting in the wetter spring season we highly recommend checking out this hike!

Doyles River (Upper + Lower) Falls Hike Details:

  • Length:3.4 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,184 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Dog Friendly?: Yes

READ MORE: The 14 Best Waterfall Hikes in Shenandoah National Park

3. Dark Hollow Falls

A narrow series of falls navigating large rock boulders and green moss at Dark Hollow Falls in Shenandoah National Park

The Dark Hollow Falls trail is a well-known Shenandoah waterfall hike and is one of the most popular as it is easily accessed right off Skyline Drive and only requires a short hike to the first viewpoint.

Dark Hollow Falls is a beautiful display of multiple cascading sections and is impressive at over 70 feet high and it is easy to see why it is so popular.

This is a great choice for a short hike, but it can also be added to for a longer adventure down to the lower falls or out further to include Rose River Falls.

Dark Hollow Falls Trail Hike Details (mile marker 50.7):

  • Length: 1.6 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 583 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 1-1.5 hours
  • Dog Friendly?: No

Pro Tip: As this is a popular trail, the Dark Hollow Falls trailhead parking area can fill up quickly. Try to visit during shoulder season or arrive early

4. Whiteoak Canyon & Falls

A hiking couple sitting with their dog on a large section of gray rocks in front of a white rocky waterfall in between two sections of green trees

Whiteoak Canyon’s lower falls and upper falls are accessed through a boundary trail at the edge of the park.

This hike leads you across a series of bridges as you traverse up the canyon to the falls. 

This trail walks you right along the babbling stream, complete with crystal-clear swimming holes.

Accessed away from the heart of the park, we found this trail to be peaceful and quiet on a spring afternoon.

Packed with a number of smaller falls along the way, this hike can be great for a shorter adventure without having to complete the entire trail or a longer adventure to the top of the canyon.

Lower Whiteoak Falls via Whiteoak Canyon Trail Hike Details:

  • Length: 2.7 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 380 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Dog Friendly?: Yes

If you have time, consider hiking all the way to the upper falls as well!

Whiteoak Canyon Trail to Upper Whiteoak Falls Hike Details:

  • Length: 5.0 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,437 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 3-4 hours
  • Dog Friendly?: Yes

5. Little Devils Stairs

Pink flowers in a field of green leading up to a small waterfall at the top of the gorge the Little Devils Stairs trail leads you up

For a whole different trail experience in Shenandoah National Park, we recommend hiking Little Devils Stairs.

This trail might not be found on many “best hikes in Shenandoah” lists, but we think it deserves a spot!

This hike leads you up a series of impressively steep rock stairs through a gorge that is filled with a series of cascading falls rushing down the center, especially in the spring’s rainy season. 

Female hiker and her dog standing among a mass of large rocks in a gorge in Shenandoah National Park

Little Devil’s Stairs gives you a nice mix of steep hiking (concentrated in the first couple of miles), a bit of rock scrambling, beautiful waterfalls, impressive rock walls, and a peaceful walk in the woods among towering trees and bright wildflowers.

Little Devil’s Stairs Trail Hike Details:

  • Length: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,489 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 3-4 hours
  • Dog Friendly?: Yes

Pro Tip: We recommend hiking this trail counterclockwise. This will bring you up the gorge, navigating back and forth across the waterfalls, and then lead you back down the Keyser Run fire road and past a family cemetery for a well-rounded hiking experience. Keep your eyes open for a great overlook near the top of the fire road on your descent with plentiful mountain views!

6. Bearfence Mountain Trail (mile marker 56.4 )

Female hiker sitting on top of Bearfence Mountain enjoying 360 degree views of Shenandoah National Park after completing a fun rock scramble on the trail

This is a short trail with BIG value. The hike leads you through multiple sections of rock scrambling before leading you to spectacular 360-degree views of Shenandoah National Park, the Virginia Piedmont, and the Shenandoah Valley.

With sections of uneven terrain and sharp drop-offs, if you are afraid of heights you may want to consider the route without the scramble (making it an out-and-back trail), although the scramble makes for a fun adventure and the best views, in our opinion.

We recommend hiking this trail clockwise!

Bearfence Mountain with Rock Scramble Hike Details:

  • Length: 1.0 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 242 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 1-1.5 hours
  • Dog Friendly?: No

READ MORE: Top Hikes Near Skyline Drive

7. Hawksbill Mountain (mile 45.5)

Female hiker standing with her arms up on the rocks of Hawksbill Mountain, Shenandoah National Park's highest peak

Hawksbill Mountain is the highest point and highest peak in Shenandoah at 4,050 feet. With multiple trails leading up to Hawksbill Mountain, you can pick your adventure and be treated to sweeping views of the Shenandoah Valley.

The top is marked by a stone viewing platform where you can see for miles out into the beautiful Virginia mountains.

Unlike other parks where getting to the highest point would require a long hiking journey, here you can appreciate the remarkable vistas after only a short trek, making it one of the best hikes to do in Shenandoah National Park!

Hawkbill Mountain Trail Hike Details:

  • Length: 2.7 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 744 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 1.5 -2 hours
  • Dog Friendly?: Yes
A female hiker overlooking layers of mountains in the Shenandoah Valley just past a shelter on the trail leading from Skyline Drive to Hawksbill Mountain

Upper Hawksbill Trail Hike Details:

  • Length: 2.1 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 498 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 1- 1.5 hours
  • Dog Friendly?: Yes

8. Mary’s Rock (mile 31.6)

Female hiker and her brown dog atop Mary's Rock in front of the layers of mountains of Shenandoah National Park

The climb to Mary’s Rock from the South approach starts right away with a steep ascent up a series of steps, before winding you through the forest. Following along the single track, you are brought out to Mary’s Rock, where you can precariously climb on the rocks to appreciate the surrounding landscape from another vantage point.

The rocks here have steep drop-offs so be mindful of where you step, especially in wet conditions! If you are wary of heights, there is a flat section for taking in the views as well.

The views from Mary’s Rock surprised us in the best way. We almost skipped this trail, but we are so glad we didn’t!

Marys Rock via the Appalachian Trail Southern Approach Hike Details:

  • Length: 2.7 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 751 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 1.5-2 hours
  • Dog Friendly?: Yes

For a bit of a longer and steeper hike, you can also do Marys Rock via the Appalachian Trail North Approach

9. Stony Man (mile 41.7)

Rocky boulders in front of blue layers of mountains on Stony Man, one of the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park

This is a short hike that requires only a minimal amount of effort to reach a rocky top with sweeping views of the Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain.

This is a great option for an afternoon hike or quick trail to get some beautiful views while driving along Skyline Drive.

There are technically 2 places you can start this trail, from the trailhead near the Skyland Resort or from the Little Stony Man trailhead parking area further along Skyline Drive (both can be seen on the map below).

Stony Man via Appalachian Trail Hike Details:

  • Length: 1.5 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 321 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 45 minutes – 1 hour
  • Dog Friendly?: No

10. Rose River Falls Trail (mile 49.4)

A female hiker sitting on a rock looking down at the cascading water of Rose River Falls in Shenandoah National Park

The Rose River trail winds through lush forests and over several streams and a picturesque bridge, with several opportunities to stop and enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.

A female hiker dressed in black walking across a brown bridge on a hiking trail through the green forest of Shenandoah National Park

Rose River Falls itself is a hidden gem, tucked away in a secluded valley with a private swimming hole at the base of the falls. 

This trail is a great addition to Dark Hollow Falls and is beautiful with the lush greens and wildflowers of spring, but would be a great spot for a cool dip in the warmer summer months!

Rose River Falls Trail Hike Details:

  • Length: 2.4 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 656 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 1.5 hours-2 hours
  • Dog Friendly?: Yes

To do both Dark Hollow and Rose River Falls in a loop (which we recommend:

Dark Hollow and Rose River Falls Loop Hike Details:

  • Length: 5.1-mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 1,443 feet
  • Estimated Duration: 3 -3.5 hours
  • Dog Friendly?: No

READ MORE: How To Spend One Day In Shenandoah National Park

Map of The Best Hikes in Shenandoah National Park

With so much to do and see in Shenandoah National Park, you really can’t go wrong with whatever trail you pick.

We hope this list of the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park helps you fill out your itinerary and have your most fulfilling adventure yet!


Entry into Shenandoah National Park requires an entrance fee:

One of the best ways to visit Shenandoah National Park is by camping right in nature!

Shenandoah National Park Campgrounds:

Other Area Accommodations:

The towns surrounding Shenandoah National Park are full of great campsites, ranging from RV resorts to no-frills campgrounds. If you are looking for the perfect one-stop shop for comparing RV parks and glamping options and prices with instant booking, we highly recommend Campspot.

Our other favorite resources for finding great campgrounds and campsites and reading reviews include Campendium, RV Life, and iOverlander.

Here are some highly-rated private campgrounds not far from Shenandoah National Park:

You can also check out HipCamp and TheDyrt for more unique camping experiences and accommodations.

RV Rentals: If you are looking to get closer to nature but don’t have an RV, consider renting one through RV Share. We used this service when renting out our Casita and found them to be high quality and easy to use!

Another great option is glamping if you are looking for a more upscale nature-centric stay. Here are some great options near Shenandoah National Park:

You can explore all Shenandoah National Park area accommodations, including hotels and private rentals, and compare prices on Booking.com, which is a great resource for unique stays at the best rates. Some top towns to consider include:

Looking for inspiration for other great East Coast National Parks to explore? Check out these guides:

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