top of page
  • Writer's pictureCampBrood

Shenandoah National Park Best Hikes

Come hike with us as we share with you 4 essential hikes in Shenandoah.  Read until the end as the last hike is a must that no one ever talks about.  To watch a video version of this blog click here or continue reading below.

Shenandoah National Park, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, is a haven for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike. With over 200,000 acres of protected lands and 500 miles of hiking trails, the park offers a variety of adventures, leading to breathtaking vistas, cascading waterfalls, and unique geological formations.  One of the best hikes is Stony Man So let’s get started with, 

How Long Does it Take to hike Stony Man?

One of Shenandoah's most iconic hikes, Stony Man, promises a rewarding experience for hikers of all skill levels. The trail spans approximately 1.6 miles with an elevation gain of 340 feet.  The peak elevation is just over 4,000 feet above sea level. Plan on an hour for this hike and to pause a moment at the amazing views from above.  The highlight of the Stony Man Trail is reaching the summit, where hikers are treated to a sweeping panoramic view of the Shenandoah Valley and the surrounding mountains.

Stony man is located near Skyland which is between the middle and northern part of the park near mile marker 42 on Skyline Drive.  The trail leads you through the forest.  The trees envelop you as you hike the trail and provide for a great experience.  You’ll come across evergreens and broad leaf trees.  The variety of trees on the trail show the health of the ecosystem and stimulates you with a variety of textures and depth as your eyes focus on the trail beneath your feet but gazes through the changes in the forest.  

What can you see on Stony Man?

At the viewpoint, which is the second highest point in Shenandoah,  make sure to identify a few landmarks below.  Of course the Shenandoah Valley sprawls out on the landscape far below.  But to your right you will see Skyline Drive and the Little Stony Man outcropping.  To the left see the rolling mountains in the distance and the Skyland lodge closer and lower beneath the horizon. 


Rose River Falls Trail is our next essential hike in Shenandoah.  But first,

What is the most popular waterfall hike in Shenandoah? 

We would be remiss if we didn’t talk about Dark Hollow Falls trail.  This hike is the most popular waterfall hike for a couple of reasons.  One, it is the easiest way to see a waterfall in Shenandoah.  The parking lot for this hike is just South of mile marker 50 which starts the 1.4 mile round trip hike with 440 feet of elevation gain to Dark Hollow Falls which is a cascading waterfall 70 feet tall.  The sight and sound of the waterfall is worth the hike and there is room on the trail and at the base of the falls to rest and take in the scenery.  Plan on 1.5 total hours to complete this top 10 hike in Shenandoah National park returning on the same path.    

But, we advise you to skip the out and back Dark Hollow Falls Trail and hike the Rose River Falls Loop Trail instead.  So,

How Long is the Rose River Falls Hike?

Rose River Falls is 4 miles long and takes about 4.5 - 5 hours to hike and enjoy.  But don’t skip because this trail is too long.  You need to see this hike.  The trail has 900 feet of elevation gain.  The length provides for a greater adventure but what excited us is the opportunity to see the 67 feet tall Rose River Falls, one of the other 11 named waterfalls in Shenandoah while also seeing Dark Hollow Falls.  But, even better, this trail is less popular than Dark Hollow Falls and goes deep into the National Park to make you feel like you are hiking the trail by yourself.  

We found this hike to be amazing in the fog.  The forest is made of trees that are much taller than Stony Man and the forest floor is more open for viewing through the forest.  But along Rose River Falls Trail you can hike miles along the Rose River.  The view of the cascading water over rock and through the forest is priceless.  The trail is moderately difficult but has a technical level that makes the hike fun and focused.  There is no boredom on the way to Dark Hollow Falls. 

But the Rose River fire road does let you relax after dark hollow falls which takes you back to the parking lot at mile marker 49.4.  But near the end of the road there is the Cave Cemetery which gave our brood a new adventure that you will also enjoy exploring.  Here you will find the resting place of the Cave family.  We have two more hikes to go but, 

which hike will you take to see Dark Hollow Falls? Join the conversation in the comments.  But if you need more details read this to learn more about these two hikes

Every good hiking video needs a dad joke:  Why can’t you play Hike and Seek with mountains?  They always peak!  

Speaking of peaks, have you heard of Bearfence Mountain.  If you have, you might be wondering.

How Hard is Bearfence Rock Scramble?

For most of your hike the Bearfence Mountain trail is what you would expect on most trails in Shenandoah.  The hike is only 1.4 miles with 300 feet of elevation gain.  The footing is generally rocks, roots and moderate to easy.  The bearfence rock scramble is just a portion of the trail.  You can see it here.  But, there are some things to keep in mind when rock scrambling.  You will have to climb up and over rock on this trail and you will want to stow your trekking poles and use your hands and feet to scramble like a bear.  But if you take your time and enjoy the adventure this trail can be successfully completed by most novice hikers.  

What is it like Hiking Bearfence Rock Scramble?

The trail starts at the parking lot near mile marker 56.4 and quickly ascends up and into the forest.  Soon you will cross the Appalachian Trail and continue higher.  While in the forest the trail slowly transitions to rock and before you know it you are scrambling.  Follow the blue blazes to the rock overlooks that provide for sweeping views of the valley below.  But the bearfence mountain trail is a loop so you will continue on after the viewpoints and return to the Appalachian trail where you will turn right and hike back to the parking lot.  Read our description to learn about an alternate route if you want to see the views but would rather bypass most of the rock scramble.

Now that we’ve seen spectacular views from above, let’s hike at a lower elevation.  When you look for hikes in Shenandoah National Park you won’t find this hike in your search results….

What is so special about Luray Caverns?

Luray Caverns isn’t technically in Shenandoah national park.  But it should be included when planning your trip to the region.  Luray Caverns is located in the Shenandoah Valley and is a step back in time.  The Caves were discovered in the late 1800s and have been open for tours ever since.  While not a hike in the traditional sense, a visit to Luray Caverns is a sprawling underground wonderland of stalactites, stalagmites, and unique geological formations. The caverns boast an awe-inspiring atmosphere, making it a captivating excursion for those interested in the Earth's underground marvels.  

So, your next question might be

How far is Shenandoah National Park to Luray Caverns?

The drive from Shenandoah National Park to Luray Caverns is a scenic adventure in itself. The drive is only 15 minutes and less than 12 miles.  Covering a relatively short distance, the drive takes you through picturesque landscapes, providing a seamless transition from the natural wonders of the park to the small town feel of Luray and the fascinating underground formations of Luray Caverns. This combination allows explorers to appreciate both the external beauty and buried treasures of the Shenandoah region.

How long does it take to walk through Luray Caverns?

Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley is a cave with many rooms to explore and discover.  The walk is about 1 ¼ miles in length and plan on at least an hour in the cave and 2 hours total. But, if you like to take it slow and explore the details, and take pictures, plan on more time.  Oh and don’t pass up the largest musical instrument you’ll ever see.  The stalactite organ in the cave provides musical entertainment by tapping the stalctiites with mallets to familiar music.  All of these experiences can add time or reduce the time if you choose to bypass anything.  For more on this grand experience check our post here

These essential hikes are special for their own reasons but, 

Why is Shenandoah National Park so special?

Shenandoah National Park best hikes and allure lies in its forests and untouched natural beauty with viewpoints above the famous valley below. The park is home to an abundance of flora and fauna, and its network of trails caters to hikers and travelers of all levels. The stunning vistas, cascading waterfalls, skyline drive, and unique geological formations make Shenandoah a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, photographers, and anyone seeking a respite in nature. The park's commitment to conservation ensures your brood can continue to marvel at the wonders it holds.

What are the Shenandoah National Park Best Hikes?

The best hikes in Shenandoah are often the hikes to waterfalls and grand views. These would include Stony Man, Rose River Falls, Dark Hollow Falls, and Bearfence Rock Scramble. Other hikes to consider are Mary's Rock and Old Rad Mountain. With so much to see and do it's hard to hike all your favorites. But you also need to take time and walk the Appalachian Trail.

Are you enjoying this post? Use the below to pin to your favorite board!

What Gear Should you Take when Hiking in Shenandoah National Parks Best Hikes?

Here is a list of gear we used when hiking Shenandoah.

Teton Sports Hydration Pack Video Review:

Amazon Link: 2021 model

Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E hydration backpack Video Review for younger hikers:

Merrell Moab II Men's Hiking Shoes:

The First Aid Kit we carry:

Tactical Flashlights:

Here are dad joke books for great gifts: Dad Jokes Around the Campfire: 600 Funniest Dad Jokes: To view any product mentioned by us in our videos, click this link: As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

To learn more about Shenandoah National Park Best Hikes watch read these posts next!

34 views0 comments


bottom of page