A cool breeze greets your face. A cicada’s song tickles your ears. Your footsteps meet a well-worn trail. There’s hiking – and then there’s hiking in the Shenandoah National Park. Home to 500 miles of trails which include waterfalls, overlooks, and 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, your backyard national park is truly a hiker’s paradise.
While there are favorite trails in Shenandoah like Old Rag and Stony Man, the 200,000 acre national park holds many more for you to explore. What are these hidden gems, you ask? We looked to the experts and asked supporters of the Shenandoah National Park Trust for their favorite ‘hidden hikes’ – those trails less travelled in this beautiful park.
MILLER’S HEAD TRAIL
Immerse yourself into a patchwork quilt of fall foliage. This 1.6 mile round trip jaunt takes you to a lookout where you can see the surrounding valley. And bring the kids! This trail is great for families. The Miller’s Head Trail starts near the Skyland Resort and Massanutten Lodge and heads west, descending for a half mile before leveling out. Great views await you at the Miller’s Head Viewpoint.
GRAVES MILL TRAIL
The Graves Mill Trail is a relatively easy hike that runs along the Rapidan River, on the eastern side in the central district of the park. You will find the trailhead is in a small gravel parking lot at the end of Route 662. The 2.2 mile hike crosses two streams which hikers find can easily be crossed using rocks and boulders. Horses, mules and park-loving pups are allowed to join you on this trail.
LAUREL PRONG TRAIL
Another great option to see the Shenandoah National Park show off its fall colors is the Laurel Prong Trail. This out-and-back 2.3 mile trail starts at the Booters Gap parking lot where you turn left and head north along the white-blazed Appalachian Trail for about a half mile until you meet up with the blue-blazed Laurel Prong Trail. There are several stream crossings which are often more muddy than wet. This low foot traffic trail offers space for peaceful reflection.
If you’d like a full list of 10 of Shenandoah’s ‘Hidden Hikes,’ and to learn about supporting trails in Shenandoah National Park through the Happy Hiker Fund, sign up for The Shenandoah National Park Trust’s newsletter at snptrust.org.
The Shenandoah National Park Trust is an official nonprofit partner of Shenandoah National Park. The Trust touches every aspect of the park we all enjoy, helping to protect what you love about Shenandoah National Park, while creating programs to inspire the next generation of national park stewards. The Trust invests in programs and initiatives which help ensure that Shenandoah remains a crown jewel of the Park Service, an economic driver for the region, and a national treasure for all to enjoy, for generations to come.