There are over 500 miles of hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park. The trails vary in length from short-stretchers to a 101 mile segment of the Appalachian Trail that runs the length of the park. Many of the trailheads are located on Skyline Drive and in the developed areas. The Whiteoak Canyon Trail leads to six waterfalls and an old-growth forest.
All trails, except self-guided nature trails have blazes, (marks on trees made with paint). The color of the blaze indicates the following:
|Color of Blaze||Meaning|
|Yellow||Open to hikers and horseback riders|
|Blue||Open to hikers only|
|Unblazed||Nature trails for hikers only|
Protect yourself against ticks.
As you walk through foothill grasses, a tick may hitch a ride. Tick bites are painless, but a small percentage of ticks carry Lyme disease. If you have been hiking in brushy or grassy areas, check yourself thoroughly when you return from your hike. Use tick repellent to all clothing, including footwear, according to label instructions. Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers and seek a ranger's or doctor's advice. Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water.
There are seven picnic areas. Tables, fireplaces, drinking fountains and restrooms are provided.
|Big Meadows||Mile 51|
|Dickey Ridge||Mile 4.6|
|Lewis Mountain||Mile 57.5|
|Loft Mountain||Mile 79.5|
|South River||Mile 62.8|
|Blackrock Summit||Mile 84.8||1.0||1.25||175||Easy, outstanding views and rock outcroppings|
|Compton Peak||Mile 10.4||2.4||2.5||940||Easy to moderate, somewhat rocky, occasionally steep, exceptional scenic views. Great examples of columnar jointing|
|Crescent Rock||Mile 45.6||3.3||2.25||500||Fairly easy, begins across from Crescent Rock Overlook, leads to a grove of Limberlost hemlocks where Indian pipes and other shade-loving plants grow|
|Dark Hollow Falls||Mile 50.7||1.5||1.5||440||Moderate, excellent view of Dark Hollow Falls|
|Deadening Nature||Mile 79.4||1.3||1.5||455||Moderately easy, fairly steep trail through a forest to a spectacular overlook at the top of Loft Mountain|
|Fox Hollow Nature||Mile 4.6||1.2||1.25||310||Easy, leads to old Fox homesite with remnants of cemetery and farm fences visible|
|Hawksbill Mountain Summit||Mile 46.7||2.1||2.0||520||Moderately easy, rocky trail to summit of park's highest peak, 4,049 ft, balsam fir and the rare red spruce can be seen|
|Hickerson Hollow||Mile 9.2||2.2||2.5||940||Fairly easy, horse trail that descends through Hickerson Hollow|
|Limberlost||Milepost 43||1.3||1.25||70||Easy, gently winding through virgin hemlock, old homesteads, wetlands, and over Whiteoak Canyon Run|
|Little Stony Man Cliffs||Mile 39.1||0.9||1.0||300||Easy, excellent views|
|Overall Run||Mile 22.2||6.0||5.5||1,200||Moderate, occasionally steep, leads to park's highest waterfall|
|South River Falls||Mile 62.8||2.6||2.25||850||Moderate, fairly steep through lush wood and view of the falls|
|Stony Man Nature||Mile 41.7||1.6||1.5||340||Fairly easy, gradual climb to the second-highest peak. Follows a portion of the Appalachian Trail|
|Traces Nature||Mile 22.2||1.7||1.5||335||Easy, Winds through a mature oak forest and an old mountain settlement. Might see wild turkey and white-tailed deer|
|Whiteoak Canyon||Mile 42.6||4.6||4.25||1,040||Strenuous, 4.6 round trip hike to the first falls with views of the ancient Limberlost hemlocks|
|Falls||Location||Section of Park||Height (ft)|
|Cedar Run||Mile 45.6||Central||34|
|Dark Hollow Falls||Mile 50.7||Central||71|
|Doyles River No 1||Mile 81.1||South||28|
|Doyles River No 2||Mile 81.1||South||63|
|Jones Run||Mile 84.1||South||42|
|Rose River||Mile 49.4||Central||67|
|South River||Mile 62.8||Central||83|
|Whiteoak No 1||Mile 42.6||Central||86|
|Whiteoak No 2||Mile 42.6||Central||62|
|Whiteoak No 3||Mile 42.6||Central||35|
|Whiteoak No 4||Mile 42.6||Central||41|
|Whiteoak No 5||Mile 42.6||Central||49|
|Whiteoak No 6||Mile 42.6||Central||60|
Recreational Fishing Guide
The fishing season has been extended to year-round and are catch-and-release only, unless specifically designated open for consumptive use, ( there are approximately 25 streams open for harvest ).
Fishing with a single-hooked, artificial lure (with or without barbs) is required.
The minimum size for trout is nine inches, and the maximum creel limit. Size and creel limits for other game fish species follow Virginia regulations.
If handled properly, fish have an excellent chance of survival after they are released.
Play and release your fish as quickly as possible. A fish that is played to the point of exhaustion may not survive.
When you're about to land the fish, avoid removing it from the water. Keep it in enough deep water to protect it.
Do not let the fish flop in shallow water over rocks and never on dry land.
Cradle the fish gently with two hands, one supporting the belly and the other just ahead of and underneath the tail section.
Keep your fingers out of and away from the gills. Gills are delicate and full of blood vessels. Once a fish begins to bleed from his gills, it is likely to die.
Pressure against a vital organ will often prove fatal.
Use soft wet gloves or at least wet your hands before handling a fish.
If you wish to photograph a fish, have a camera ready and take the picture quickly. Get someone else to take the picture or hold the fish. If possible, keep the fish in the water by cradling it or by keeping it in a net.
Always try to remove the hook quickly and gently, keeping the fish underwater.
Firmly grasp the hook with your fingers, or better yet a long-nosed pliers or hemostat, and roll or back the hook out of the fish's mouth.
Never throw, drop or kick a fish back into the water. Cradle it gently, well behind the gills, and lower it back into the water.
Revive a stream fish by pointing its head into the current until its gills are working and it maintains an upright position.
1. Waters - All streams within Shenandoah National Park, including all tributaries, are open for catch and release recreational fishing unless (1) designated as closed or (2) designated as open for harvest. Streams designated as open for harvest are also considered to be open for catch and release fishing. Those streams that are closed or designated for harvest are listed at the above link.
2. Season - Streams and their tributaries designated as Open for Harvest or Catch and Release are open all year.
3. Licenses - All residents 16 years and older fishing within the park must have a Virginia State fishing license in his/her possession. A 5-day nonresident license ($6.50) may be purchased at Panorama Restaurant, Big Meadows and Loft Mountain Waysides, or from local sporting goods stores. Non-residents 12 years and older must have a Virginia license.
4. Size Limits - No trout under nine inches in length may be kept. Undersized fish must be immediately and carefully returned to the water. Size limits on other species of game fishes are those established by applicable State law.
5. Creel Limits - No person may retain more than six trout per day nor have more than six trout in possession. Creel limits on other species of game fishes are those established by applicable State law.
6. Lures - Only a single hook (barbed or barbless) artificial lure may be used.
7. Commercial Fishing Guides - Anyone who serves as a fishing guide or instructor for compensation must apply for an Incidental Business Permit from the Concessions Management Office prior to entering the park.
There are more than 150 miles of horse trails in the park. Visitors may bring their own horses, or sign up for a guided trail ride from the Skyland Stables (May through October).
Riders must be at least 4 ft 10 in height. Pony rides are available for children.
There are numerous trails in Shenandoah National Park well suited for riding horses and the use of pack animals. Legally defined, horses, mules, burros, and llamas are all designated as "pack animals"; collectively, they are referred to as "horses."
To prevent conflict with other trail users, horse may be taken only into areas designated for their use. Horse trails are marked with yellow blazes; these include most of our fire roads.
The Appalachian Trail (white blazed), Nature Trails, and other hiking trails (blue blazed) are for foot traffic only and are not maintained for horses. The paved roads and developed areas in the park (such as lodges and campgrounds) have high vehicle traffic and other visitor use and are not suited for horses. Use of horses in these areas is prohibited.
The park recommends PATC Trail Map #9 for the trails in the North District, from US Hwy 211 to Front Royal. Map #10 shows the trails in the Central District, between US Hwy 211 and US Hwy 33. Map #11 is for the South District, south from US Hwy 33 to Waynesboro. Horse trails are specifically shown on these maps, which are sold throughout the park and local stores.
Hitching posts have been placed in areas of high horse use. Please use them wherever provided. Please don't tie your horse to a tree; the horse's pawing causes "doughnuts" of eroded areas around the tree, compacting the soil and killing tree roots. Pickets and other tethers or restraints that will not damage trees or other vegetation should be used where hitching posts are not available.
Grazing is not permitted; you must bring your own feed for your horses. The park encourages the use of pellets or certified clear feed for your animals, since oats and hay bring damaging nonnative grass species into the park.
Many horses are trailered into the park and ridden out on the horse trails from points on Skyline Drive. Trailhead parking may be very limited, on both Skyline Drive and the park boundary access points. Please be considerate: do not block private property or park access roads. Please remember to clean up after your animals in the paved parking lots and around high-use developed areas.
Please slow down to a walk when you pass hikers. There may be vehicle traffic on several of the fire roads; please ride single file until they pass by.
No unattended horses: please leave someone to watch the horses while your group is away, especially in Big Meadows, Skyland, and other developed areas. Young children have been known to approach horses and may be kicked or bitten. Bears are present in all areas of the park and may frighten your animals. Picnic tables have been placed near hitching posts in developed areas for your convenience while you rest with your horses.
Reporting accidents and getting help: in an emergency, please call the Park Communications Center at 1-800-732-0911. Cell phones have limited range from many trails. Pay phones are located in most developed areas in the park, including lodges, campgrounds, visitor centers, gas stations, and entrance stations.
Shenandoah National Park has no facilities for horses to stay overnight. The campgrounds and concessions are not able to accommodate horses. Horses may not be kept at the lodges overnight, nor left overnight in trailers.
Several commercial facilities near the park will board horses and their riders overnight to facilitate early starts on the trail. See local chambers of commerce pages in the Adjacent Visitor Attractions section for details.
Backcountry camping with horses is strongly discouraged in the park: horses are required to remain on the trails at all times to reduce their impact on the natural resources. A free permit is required and all backcountry regulations apply. Please contact us ahead of time when making your plans.
Be Bear Aware
Avoid surprising animals at close range. Whistle, talk, sing, or otherwise make noise when hiking in areas where visibility is limited or bear sign present. Take no pets; they are prohibited in the backcountry. A dog's valor may turn into retreat bringing an infuriated bear to you.
Be alert to sign (droppings, diggings, fresh tracks, etc.), sounds, or other indications of bears. Be particularly wary when hiking wildlife trails or other areas where bears concentrate.
Food and beverages should never be left unattended. Foodstuffs with strong odors such as fish, cheese, sausage, and fresh meats should be stored in a food cache, a bear resistant container, or suspended 10 feet above ground. Carry all refuse and garbage out! Buried refuse will attract bears.
Keep packs and other personal gear on your person. It is easy to become separated from belongings left lying on the ground when a bear unexpectedly approaches. Bears will investigate, often destructively.
Do not approach bears.
The minimum safe distance from any bear is 50 yards; from a sow with young it is 100 yards. These are MINIMUM distances, there are many times that greater distances are required!
Regardless of precautions taken, you may come across a bear. Usually they will run away. A bear standing on hind legs may only be trying to sense you better, not preparing to attack. Even a charge is often a bluff, ending abruptly short of physical contact.
If you see a bear at a distance, turn around or make a wide detour. Keep upwind if possible so the bear will get your scent and know you're there. Talk in an assured tone to communicate your presence. Treat animals as if cubs are nearby. Assume the bear will be defensive. Do not approach closer to scare a bear away as you may be considered a threat.
Avoid actions that interfere with bear movement or foraging activities.
Be satisfied with a distant photograph, or use a telephoto lens. Many fatalities and injuries have been related to photography.
Do not corner an animal. Allow them plenty of space and an escape route.
Activities & Calendar
Address & Phone
Be Bear Aware
Brochures, Maps, Written Info
Civilian Conservation Corps
Horseback Riding Info
Jobs, SCA, Volunteer Positions
Junior Ranger Program
Natural Resources Guide
Seasons of Shenandoah
Stony Man Camp
Virginia White Tailed Deer
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