Enjoy fall hiking with a Virginia hike that’s just right for you. Whether you’re looking for an easy hike or an all-day strenuous adventure, Virginia is the perfect place to hike your own hike.
A surge in hikers along the Appalachian Trail is expected following the release of the movie A Walk in the Woods. The movie, based on travel writer Bill Bryson’s 1998 memoir, features Robert Redford and Nick Nolte as long-lost estranged buddies who decided to hike the Appalachian Trail. Among AT sites featured in the movie is McAfee Knob, the most photographed site along the Appalachian Trail..
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics recently selected McAfee Knob on the Appalachian Trail as an endangered “Hot Spot” and plans community events and educational activities, including a clean-up day at McAfee Knob and the surrounding Catawba Valley, held in September 2015.
There’s no better place on the East Coast to hike your own hike than the Appalachian Trail. Thousands of hikers attempt to thru-hike the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail each year, but only about one in four completes the hike. Many more enjoy day hikes or shorter sections hikes on the AT. About 550 miles of the AT are in Virginia. The trail begins at Springer Mountain, Georgia and ends at Katahdin, Maine.
McAfee Knob is one of the most popular day hikes on the Appalachian Trail. Located near Roanoke off Route 311, McAfee Knob has an almost 270-degree panorama of the Catawba Valley and North Mountain to the west, Tinker Cliffs to the north and the Roanoke Valley to the east.
One of the premiere hikes in the U.S. brings you to the summit of Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia at 5,729 feet. Begin the 9-mile hike at Massie Gap in Grayson Highlands State Park, located in Southwest Virginia. You’ll enjoy the sights along the way and may even see some wild ponies.
Fall hiking is great at the rest of of the Virginia State Parks too. With 189 dedicated hiking trails and more than 200 mixed-use hiking, biking and equestrian trails, find your favorite hike at a park to the east, west, north or south.
Enjoy a scenic fall drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and stop for a hike along the way. The 469-mile Parkway runs from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. With over 360 miles of hiking trails along the Parkway, you’ll find the perfect hike.
Whether you’re looking for an easy family-friendly hike, a moderate short hike or a strenuous day hike, try one of these popular Blue Ridge Parkway hikes, listed from north to south.
Farm Museum Trail is an easy .25 mile self-guided trail from the Humpback Visitor Center at MP 5.9.
Humpback Rocks Trail is a favorite strenuous hike on the north end of the Parkway at MP 6.0. The 2.0 mile trail takes you to spectacular views from the Humpback Rocks at the top.
White Rock Falls Trail is a moderate .9 mile trail following a stream to a small falls at MP 20.0.
Yankee Horse is a moderate .2 mile trail to a logging railroad display and small waterfall at MP 34.4.
Indian Gap is a moderate .3 mile trail to a huge Indian Rocks display and a seasonal rhododendron display at MP 47.5.
Otter Lake Trail is a moderate .8 mile trail around Otter Lake at MP 63.1.
James River Trail is an easy .2 mile self-guided trail to a display with canal locks at MP 63.6.
Thunder Ridge Trail is an easy .1 mile trail to a great view of Arnold Valley at MP 74.7.
Apple Orchard Falls Trail is a strenuous 1.2 mile National Recreation Trail starting at Sunset Field Overlook and leading to Apple Orchard Falls at MP 78.4.
Fallingwater Cascades Trail is a moderate 1.6 mile National Recreation Trail to a waterfall at MP 83.1.
Flat Top Trail is a moderate 4.4 mile trail leading to Flat Top Mountain, the highest of the three Peaks of Otter at MP 83.5.
Abbott Lake Trail is an easy 1.0 mile loop trail around Abbott Lake at MP 85.7 at the Peaks of Otter. The entire trail has recently been paved and is completely accessible.
There are several additional moderate trails, including Elk Run Trail (.8 mile), Johnson Farm Loop Trail (2.1 miles) and Harkening Hill Trail (3.3 miles) — all starting at the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center at MP 85.9.
Sharp Top Trail is one of the most popular strenuous hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Start at MP 86.0 for the 1.5 mile hike to the top of Sharp Top Mountain, where you’ll enjoy 360-degree panoramic views.
Roanoke River Trail is an easy .35 mile trail with views of the Roanoke River at MP 114.9.
Rock Castle Gorge Trail is a strenuous 10.8 mile loop trail from the Rocky Knob Campground into the Gorge at MP 167.1.
Black Ridge Trail is a moderate 3.1 mile loop trail starting at Rocky Knob Visitor Center at MP 169.0.
Mabry Mill Trail is an easy .5 mile trail to Mabry Mill and other displays depicting rural life at MP 176.2. This trail is especially beautiful when blazing with fall colors.
There are many hikes available off the 105-mile Skyline Drive, which travels through the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. The Skyline Drive has four entrances between Front Royal and Waynesboro.
You’ll receive a basic park guide when you enter the Skyline Drive. For more hiking trails, pick up a hiking guide book at one of the Visitor Centers.
Compton Peak Trail begins at MP 10.4. The 2.0 mile hike takes you on a 605-foot climb with great views from the top.
Overall Run Trail begins at MP 21.1. The 6.4 mile hike takes you on a 1850-foot climb with views of Overall Run Falls, the tallest falls in the park.
Mary’s Rock Trail, another very popular hike in the park, begins at MP 33.5. The 2.8 mile hike takes you on a 830-foot climb with great views.
Hawksbill Mountain is the highest point in the park. Begin at MP 46.7 for the 2.1 mile hike which takes you on a 520-foot climb with views to the east and west.
Dark Hollow Falls Trail begins at MP 50.7. The 1.4 mile hike takes you to the closest waterfall off the Skyline Drive with a 440-foot climb.
The Frazier Discovery Trail on Loft Mountain begins at MP 79.5. The 1.3 mile trail takes you on a 455-foot climb with excellent views at the top.
Choose your distance when hiking to Doyles River Falls at MP 81.1. Enjoy a 2.6 mile hike to the upper falls or a 3.2 mile hike to the lower falls.
One of Shenandoah National Park’s favorite hikes is Old Rag Mountain — and it’s also the most dangerous hike in the park. Although Old Rag can be seen from the Skyline Drive and is located within Shenandoah National Park, all hikers must use the parking area at the Old Rag Fee Station. Enjoy challenging rock scrambles and breathtaking views on the 8.0 mile hike.
If you like waterfalls, you’ll love hiking Crabtree Falls, located in Nelson County. Plan to spend half a day hiking Crabtree Falls, the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi. Bring your camera for photos, but stay on the trail. Climbing onto the slick rocks has resulted in a number of deaths.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation compiled a list of favorite Virginia hikes, as voted by Facebook and Twitter fans. Check out any of these hikes when you’re looking for a new hike. You’ll find great hiking in Virginia — with a bonus of autumn colors during fall.