Some of the best easy hikes in Virginia are along Skyline Drive!
Skyline Drive is the approximately 105-mile-long road through Shenandoah National Park. This historic road allows visitors to enjoy some of the most magnificent unspoiled vistas in the United States without having to leave their car.
Whether you’re looking for beautiful mountain views, wildlife, or breathtaking displays of wildflowers, Skyline Drive is worth a visit!
However, Skyline Drive is not just for those in cars. The roadsides are dotted with trailheads for hikers, trail runners, and horseback riders alike to enjoy.
One of the best things about these trails along Skyline Drive is the variety —- there are so many great trails for beginners and experienced hikers alike to enjoy.
Whether you’re lacing up those hiking boots for the first time, or are just looking for a relaxed day of hiking for which you won’t have to bring a huge pack full of gear, these are the easy hikes on Skyline Drive that I would recommend!
Top 5 Best Easy Hiking trails on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park
1. Land’s Run Falls Trail
Land’s Run is at Milepost 9.2 along Skyline Drive, so it’s not too far from the north entrance. It’s sort of a “choose your own adventure” trail.
Depending on how long you have, and how far you want to walk, Lands Run can be a quick hike down to the falls and back, which is just over a mile round-trip and should take you about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace.
Or, if you get to the falls and feel like you could keep walking, you can continue onto the Land’s Run Gap fire road for another couple of miles.
There aren’t any spectacular views or anything beyond the falls, but the forest along the fire road can be truly beautiful. Plus, following the fire road is easy and wide enough for you to walk side-by-side.
If you add on the fire road, this hike is more like 5 miles round trip, depending on where you decide to turn around.
2. Mary’s Rock North Trail
Mary’s Rock is one of the must-see spots in Shenandoah National Park.
The entrance to the trail is at the end of a large parking lot just off of Skyline Drive at Milepost 31.6 near the Thornton Gap entrance. This trail may be a bit more challenging than some of the other trails on the list, but believe me when I say that the payoff is huge.
You’ll definitely want to save this hike for a clear day because the view from the summit is something you won’t want to miss.
If you’re feeling brave, you can even do a little careful rock climbing to get an even better view, and I highly recommend that you do!
This 3.6-mile trail is relatively steep and rocky so you’ll definitely get a workout on this hike! From personal experience, I recommend that you bring along more water than you think you’ll need.
3. Stony Man Loop
This one is for the wildflower lovers!
The trailhead for Little Stony Man is at milepost 39.5 along Skyline drive.
This hike is under a mile all told, so it should only take you about an hour to hike it, but you’ll definitely want to allow yourself time to take in the panoramic views and the wildflowers.
This trail is definitely best to do in spring or summer when the park’s wildflowers are out in full force.
Because of the relatively short hike and the big payoff with flowers and the view from the summit, Little Stony Man is also a great option if you’re looking to elope in Shenandoah National Park!
4. Dark Hollow Falls Trail
If you were only going to pick one hike along Skyline Drive from this list, it should be this one. At milepost 50.7 on Skyline Drive, Dark Hollow Falls Trail is just a hop skip and a jump from Big Meadows, one of my absolute favorite places in Shenandoah National Park.
Dark Hollow Falls Trail is a very popular and relatively short hike.
And as with most waterfall trails, this is a fine one to do on a foggy or overcast day. It’s just under 1.5 miles out and back, but this is one you should allow yourself some extra time to tackle. The descent down to the falls can be very slippery, so definitely make use of the handrails when present!
According to a popular rumor, Thomas Jefferson was quite fond of spending his time at the base of Dark Hollow Falls, and I think you’ll see why when you get there. It’s truly a spectacular view.
You’ll want to spend some time at the falls, taking in the scene and resting your legs before heading back up to the trailhead. The trip back up can be quite the workout.
Pro Tip: This is one of the most popular hikes in the park, so if you don’t want to hike with a crowd, go early on a weekday morning.
5. Bearfence Mountain Trail
At milepost 56.4, Bearfence Mountain Trail is the southernmost trail on my little list.
This is a short (1.2 miles) but somewhat challenging hike, and might not be the best hike for children or those who have problems with heights.
However, if you’re up for a little bit of a challenge, the 360-degree view from the summit is well worth the effort!
Near the top, the trail turns into a rock scramble to the summit. But don’t worry, – the best path to the summit is clearly marked with blue blazes painted on the rocks.
If an exhilarating climb and an incredible view aren’t enough of a reason to do this hike, this trail is also an excellent spot to see the incredible variety of wildflowers in the park.
When you enter Shenandoah National Park, the ranger at the station will give you a great Skyline Drive Map.
If you’re looking for more easy hikes on Skyline Drive, I definitely recommend that you pick up a copy of The Falcon Guide’s “Best Easy Day Hikes – Shenandoah National Park and the accompanying Shenandoah National Park trail map. It’s a great little book packed full of information, and the map is super helpful and detailed.
Another great resource for discovering new hikes is AllTrails, an awesome website and app for finding, rating, and tracking your favorite hikes.
As always, when hiking in our National Parks, it is important that you practice the basic Leave No Trace Principles.
Our public lands are an invaluable resource and it is the responsibility of everyone who uses them to care for and respect them. To learn more about Leave No Trace principles, visit the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
What are your favorite easy hikes on Skyline Drive? Are you mad that Upper Hawksbill Trail didn’t make my list? Let me know in the comments!
Meet The Author
Leah is an elopement photographer and avid hiker who grew up right outside Shenandoah National Park. She loves that S.N.P. has something for everyone, regardless of their activity level or hiking ability. If you’re interested in more hiking content, check out my passion project: www.sustainablehiking.com