A Hiking Getaway to Madison County, VA

As we head into fall, what better place to get outside and experience the changing leaves than Madison County, Va. Rich in history and scenic views, you will find adventure is all around you.

While you are in the area, you can’t miss Shenandoah National Park, the crown jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Access overlooks with sweeping views and dozens of trailheads from Skyline Drive or start your hike from one of the parking lots along the park’s boundary.

Old Rag Mountain, photo by John Berry

Old Rag Mountain, one of the most popular hikes in the region, features a challenging rock scramble and beautiful panoramic views of the county. Depending on how much time you want to spend and how many miles you want to hike, choose from a variety of routes to reach the summit, including an alternate route if you are hiking with pets. If you are doing the full 9.4-mile circuit, plan to be hiking for at least 5.5 hours so pack lots of water and snacks. Head out early in the morning or during the week to beat the crowds.

Just down the road, White Oak Canyon is another iconic spot in the area. A number of different routes and parking lots allow you to customize your trip to fit into your day. As you revel in the crisp autumn air, you will cross several cool mountain streams to see the magnificent cascading waterfall. Whether you do the lower falls hike, two miles round trip, or the Cedar Run and Whiteoak Canyon Trail, a 7.3-mile circuit, it’s easy to see why this is a favorite hike in Shenandoah for many people.

For a less strenuous outing, the trails at Hoover Ridge Park offer a scenic walk through the woods. You will find a range of trail surfaces, including natural, paved, and gravel. While you are there, take advantage of the other park amenities like the frisbee golf course, picnic shelter by the pond, sand volleyball court, and a farmers market.

At the end of the day, discover all of the charming shops and restaurants serving up mouth watering delights in town. At Yoder’s Country Market, you can pick up snacks and souvenirsor visit the alpacas, turkeys, goats, and more at the petting zoo. If you are visiting on a weekend in October, Graves Mountain Farm and Lodges is hosting their Apple Harvest, a ticketed event this year to maintain safety guidelines. Pick your own apples, choosing from 27 varieties, go for a hayride, and grab some goodies from the local vendors.

Stop by one of the locally-owned wineries or breweries for a scenic place to kick back, relax, and enjoy a post-adventure craft beverage. When you are done for the day, cozy up at one of the area’s cabins or inns for a restorative night’s sleep before doing it all over again the next day. Many lodging options available, from rooms, cabins, and houses at Graves to Spirit Dancer Lodge, luxurious yurts at Rose River Farm, and many more.

When planning your socially-distanced getaway, Madison County provides a quiet retreat surrounded by the natural beauty of Virginia.

Places to Go, Things to See: