Since I live in lower Pennsylvania, Shenandoah National Park is probably one of the easiest to visit since it’s about 3 or so hours away in Virginia. I saw my first bear there as a kid, and have visited the park 5+ times over the years.
You can read about my tips for how to spend a day in the area here. What’s not included in that post is a recent hike I went on with Teddy in Shenandoah called Stony Man Trail which is a short hike with incredible views. A great way to experience the park and the mountains if you don’t have time for a long hike.
- It has a pretty large parking lot so parking shouldn’t be an issue if you get there early
- Round trip, the trail is about 1.6 miles (I told you it was short!)
- It takes about an hour or so to hike depending on how much time you spend at the top. We spent closer to 1.5 hours hiking because we hung out at the top for a while.
- Elevation gain on the trail is about 340 feet.
- No pets are allowed on this hike (for good reason as it has some steeper drop offs at the top)
- It’s open year round and you don’t need reservations for this hike like you do some others!
- It does intersect with the Appalachian trail near the beginning of it, so you may see some though hikers or people camping nearby
- If you stay overnight at Skyland, you can walk to the trailhead from your cabin or room. It’s so close!
- Wear sturdy shoes. There’s a decent amount of rocks, especially at the top
- Bring your camera or phone. You can see for miles from the summit and it’s beautiful I’m sure for both sunrise and sunset.
- Bring water (and maybe a snack) if you want to hang out on the rocks for a while after getting to the top
- Cell service in the area is likely not great, so download any maps you may need ahead of time
- Enjoy yourself! Go solo or with a friend. It’s beautiful throughout the park.
And if you want to explore the area further after the hike, here are a few additional recommendations
- Check out new River Gorge National Park (our newest National Park as of 2021). It’s about 2.5 hours away
- Visit the town of Staunton, VA which is about 1 hour away
- Visit Luray Caverns in Virginia, about 20 minutes from the northern entrance
- Visit Harpers Ferry VA, which I share a bit on in this post. About 2 hours from the north entrance
- Spend some time at Monticello, George Washington’s home, about 1 hour 15 minutes from the northern entrance
Enjoy your travels!