If you’re just getting started hiking in Virginia, you may not know where to start. That’s understandable since there are over 1,000 trails to choose from! There are more than 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail alone to explore.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best hiking trails and broken it down by difficulty.

Read on to learn more about hiking in Virginia to pick a trail and explore the beautiful state!

View in Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. Best hiking in Virginia.View in Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. Best hiking in Virginia.

Best Easy Hiking Trails in Virginia

1. Stony Man Trail

Shenandoah National Park

The Stony Mail Trail is excellent for families hiking in Virginia with children. The 1.6-mile roundtrip hike should take about an hour.

There’s a steep, rocky part at the end, but the effort is well worth it. Your reward is panoramic views of the Shenandoah Valley.

The trail is open year-round, but it’s best to visit April-September. The earlier you go, the fewer fellow hiker you’ll encounter. And make sure to leave your animals at home because no pets are allowed on this trail.

The view from Little Stony Man Cliffs.The view from Little Stony Man Cliffs.
View from Little Stony Man Cliffs.

2. High Bridge Trail

High Bridge Trail State Park

High Bridge Trail is so remarkable that an entire state park centers around it! The 31-mile trail is wide and flat, with many sections to enjoy.

If it’s your first visit, you’ll want your hike to include the High Bridge. It stands 125 feet high over the Appomattox River and is full of history. During the Civil War, the Confederate and Union troops aimed to take the bridge down to hinder the other side’s movements. If you want even more history, travel 12 miles down the road to the trail’s western end, and you’ll see Appomattox Courthouse, where General Lee surrendered to end the war.

3. Roaring Run Falls

Roaring Run Recreation Area

Almost any hiker can enjoy the unique beauty of a waterfall on Roaring Run Falls Trail. You could quickly finish this 1.5-mile trail in about an hour or make a family day of it!

You’ll hike along Roaring Run Creek on the way to the falls. There are fun bridges to cross, perfect spots for a picnic lunch, and even places to hop in the stream to cool off or ride a natural waterslide!

On the way back to your car, you’ll pass an old iron furnace built and used to melt iron down to make tools, weapons, and railroad tracks.

4. Bear Den Park Trail

Bluemont, Virginia

If you want to introduce your family to the Appalachian Trail, take them on the Bear Den Park Trail an hour outside of D.C.

This trail is about 1.5 miles. At Bear Den Overlook, you’ll get a west-facing view of the Shenandoah Valley, which makes this a prime location for breathtaking sunset views.

Take a short detour by the Bear Den Trail Center to look at life for overnight and thru campers on the Appalachian Trail!

5. Scott’s Run River Loop

McLean, Virginia

Hiking in Virginia doesn’t mean you’ve got to go in the middle of nowhere. If you live in or visit the metro D.C. area, you can still explore nature on Scott’s Run River Loop.

The waterfall at Scott's River Run Loop.The waterfall at Scott's River Run Loop.

Several trails make up this loop, but you can experience all of them in a couple of hours, walking a little over three miles.

This is a very popular spot because of its proximity to a metro area, especially on the weekends. For less crowds, visit early on a weekday.

Also, while getting in the water and enjoying playing by the waterfall may be tempting, don’t do it. The water is dirty and polluted. Instead, enjoy a picnic on the ground nearby.

6. Burke Lake Trail

Burke Lake Park

Burke Lake Trail is a scenic 4.8-mile loop around beautiful Burke Lake. It’s a well-maintained trail that hikers of all ages and abilities will enjoy.

For a bit of an extra challenge, use the fitness centers along the trail!

While visiting this trail, check out Burke Lake Park’s other offerings, like a snack shack, mini golf, and seasonal train.

Best Moderate Hiking Trails in Virginia

The view from the summit of Sharp Top Mountain, one of the Peaks of Otter Mountains in Virginia.The view from the summit of Sharp Top Mountain, one of the Peaks of Otter Mountains in Virginia.
The view from Sharp Top Mountain in Virginia.

7. The Channels Trail

Channels State Forest

A lot of hiking in Virginia will take you to historic sites. The Channels Trail may take the cake.

The Channels Trail dates back to the Ice Age. Ten million years ago, ice wedged down into the earth and split the soft rock underneath, creating otherworldly channels ready for exploration!

You can take two different trails to get to the channels– one is 3.5 miles and moderately difficult, while the other is 5.5 miles and takes a steeper approach. Either way, you’ll end up at the Channels and can spend as much time as you want to explore the 20 acres of natural wonder.

8. Cascade Falls National Recreation Trail

Jefferson National Forest

The Cascade Falls National Recreation Trail is a 4-mile loop trail that will take you by Cascade Falls, which is over 60 feet high.

There is a lower trail and an upper trail. The lower trail is rocky, which makes for some adventure, especially if wet from rain. The upper trail is wider and smoother but has a steeper incline.

There’s a small fee associated with parking, so have cash on hand when visiting.

9. Compton Peak Trail

Shenandoah National Park

If you’re hiking in Virginia and looking to see some natural wonders, take the Compton Peak Trail. The view on top of Compton Peak is awe-inspiring, and something else nearby makes it even better.

This 2.4-mile in-and-out trail is home to a geological feature called columnar jointing. While the earth was forming, lava flows cooled quickly and turned the rock around them into a geometric pattern. It sounds complicated, but you’re left with a massive group of stones that looks like you’re looking at a group of cut-off number two pencils made out of rock.

While you can find columnar jointing worldwide, this is one of only three places you can see it on the east coast of America.

10. Rose River Trail

Shenandoah National Park

The sound of running water in the cool shade of trees on a hot summer day makes Rose River Trail one of the best hiking trails in Virginia.

This trail follows over two miles of Rose River as it winds and cascades through the forest. You’ll walk past 67-foot Rose River Falls and then have the option to take a quarter-mile detour to visit Dark Hollow Falls, too.

Wear shoes that can get wet on this hike because you may have to cross some creeks, depending on the water levels.

11. Hawksbill Loop Trail

Shenandoah National Park

The Hawksbill Loop Trail will take you to the highest mountain in Shenandoah National Park and give you a 360° view of the valley and nearby Blueridge Mountains.

The view from the Hawksbill Loop Trail observation deck.The view from the Hawksbill Loop Trail observation deck.

This nearly 3-mile hike is a nice mix of inclines and flat spaces to catch your breath. When you reach the top, a pretty view will be to your left, and a shelter nearby. Take the path past the shelter to get to the top to experience the summit fully.

Because of the 360° views, this trail is excellent for sunrise or sunset hikes!

12. Sharp Top Mountain Trail

Jefferson National Forest

Sharp Top Mountain Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in Virginia.

The hike to the peak is only 1.5 miles, but you’re quickly gaining 1,300 feet in elevation. It’s a steep hike!

At the top of the mountain, you’ll find more than just some rocks to scramble up to see the views. Because this was once thought to be the tallest mountain in Virginia, extra infrastructure was added at the peak.

There’s an old stone building that was a restaurant in the 1950s and 1960s and other stone walkways and terraces.

Best Challenging Hiking Trails in Virginia

Hikers at McAffee Knob in Virginia.Hikers at McAffee Knob in Virginia.

13. Devils Fork Trail

Jefferson National Forest

If you’ve quickly googled “hiking in Virginia,” you’ve probably heard of Devil’s Bathtub. It’s a natural, bright bluish-green swimming hole in the middle of a forest, perfect for cooling off.

Devil’s Fork Trail will take you to the Devil’s Bathtub and beyond, through thick forests, across many creeks, and up rocky scrambles.

The initial 1.5-mile hike to the Bathtub is relatively easy. Still, the rest of the seven-mile loop is much more strenuous and complicated. Be prepared with plenty of water and sturdy hiking boots.

14. Old Rag Mountain Loop

Shenandoah National Park

Old Rag Mountain Loop isn’t just some of the best hiking in Virginia. It’s ranked as one of the 25 best hiking trails in the world on popular outdoor websites!

This hike will require you to use your hands, feet, knees, and even elbows to scramble up nearly a mile of boulders. It’s not for the faint of heart, but the end is worth it.

Old Rag Mountain is named from the boulders made entirely of “old rag” granite at the top. Take time to sit and relax on them, enjoying the beautiful views surrounding you.

Tickets are required for hiking to help with crowd control and can be purchased through the National Parks website.

15. Raven Rocks Hike

Bluemont, Virginia

If you’re looking for hiking in Virginia to backcountry camp, look no further than Raven Rocks Hike.

The trail is 5.5 miles of steep inclines, flat stretches, and steep declines. It’s very rocky, so walking poles are recommended.

A hiker taking in the view at Raven Rocks.A hiker taking in the view at Raven Rocks.

At the top, you’ll find several large rock outcroppings and even a campsite. If you stay the night, wake up before dawn to watch the beautiful sunrise on the east-facing mountain.

It’s a popular hike since it’s only an hour’s drive from D.C. For less crowds, visit early on weekday mornings.

16. Strickler Knob

George Washington National Forest

While most hiking trails in Virginia are up to a point, Strickler Knob is a path along the point. You’ll spend much of your time on this 5.5-mile hike adventuring along the ridge, scrambling up and down rocks, and climbing over a few large boulders.

Several campsites along the ridge provide lovely sunrise and sunset views of the Shenandoah Valley, but bring water with you if you plan to stay, as there are no fresh springs up there.

17. Dragon’s Tooth

Catawba, Virginia

Dragon’s Tooth Trail gets its name from the 35-foot tall pieces of Tuscarora quartzite that burst out of the ground at the top of the trail.

The first mile of the trail is pretty straightforward, but once it joins with the Appalachian Trail, there’s over a mile of strenuous, technical trail that will require you to nearly climb up a rock wall.

Once you reach the top, you can continue climbing to the tip-top of Dragon’s Tooth if you’re feeling adventurous!

Wrapping Up the Best Hiking Trails in Virginia

A view of the winding New River in Virginia.A view of the winding New River in Virginia.

Virginians like to say, “Virginia is for Lovers,” and that’s undoubtedly true for lovers of the great outdoors! Hiking in Virginia is so varied and beautiful that there’s something for everyone.

Whether you’re hoping for an afternoon outdoors with your whole family or looking to push yourself outside your comfort zone physically, there’s a hiking trail in Virginia that you’re sure to love.Want to learn more about hiking? Check out our page, All About Hiking. There, you’ll learn more about accessories to give you a better experience, reviews on some hiking products, and more incredible hiking trails across the country.

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