The Skyline Drive follows the crest of the Appalachian Mountains for 105 miles through Shenandoah National Park offering visitors an array of outdoor opportunities including hiking, rock climbing, wildlife viewing or just relaxing in nature. The Skyline Drive offers over 500 miles of hiking trails so finding somewhere to hike is easy…but which trail should you choose? The following 5 trails are my favorite places to hike along the Skyline Drive.
1) White Oak Canyon Trail (Milepost 42): This is one of the most popular hikes on the Skyline Drive and it is my favorite trail in the park. You pass 6 waterfalls, including one that is 82 feet, and hike through ancient Limberlost Hemlock trees. It is a 4.6 round trip hike to the first and biggest falls. If you want to see all 6 falls, you will have a strenuous 9.6 mile day so plan accordingly.
2) Cedar Run Falls (Milepost 46): This is the sister hike to Whiteoak Canyon and another one of my favorite hikes in the park. You will find this hike less crowded but just as beautiful. The falls are not as high and dramatic as the White Oak Canyon Hike, but you will pass through old growth forests, ferns, and countless smaller waterfalls. It is an out and back hike so you can make it as short or long as you see fit. It’s about 9.5 miles if you go all the way to the bottom of the falls.
3) Riprap Hollow (Milepost 89) : If you crave solitude and great views, head to Riprap Hollow on the southern end of the Skyline Drive. This 9.5 mile loop offers great views from Chimney Rocks and the rest of the ridge that you will follow during this hike. You will also pass a spring and a nice swimming hole that is great for cooling off on a hot day.
4) Camp Hoover (Milepost 53): For those who want a close look at history, the hike Camp Hoover (also known as Rapidan Camp) will be perfect. It’s a moderate 7.5 miles and you pass by the former retreat of President Herbert Hoover. The camp is restored and there are many signs that will educate you on the history of the camp.
5) Stony Man (Milepost 41): This is a great hike for people of all ages and ability levels. At only 3.7 miles, it is the shortest hike listed here but what it lacks in distance is made up for in scenery. Make sure you go on a clear day because this hike offers some of the best vistas in the entire park.
On your next visit to the skyline drive, grab a map and find one of the hikes listed in this article. Any of them would be a great way to spend the day.