Hiking with the family is a great way to get the kids outside and in tune with nature. One of the top choices for families embarking on an outdoor adventure is Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The mostly forested park features stunning waterfalls, wetlands and rocky peaks that will make you want to camp out and stay awhile. But if sleeping under the stars isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of Shenandoah vacation rental options near the park as well. For a trip that will whisk you away from the hustle and bustle of the city to a haven under the canopy of trees, there’s no place quite like Shenandoah.
1. Fox Hollow Loop
Take a walk in the woods on the Fox Hollow Trail, which is an easy hike about 1.2 miles. The path meanders through an area where homesteaders lived back in the 1850s. Though the trail cuts through the forest now, there was a time when the area abounded with fields of wheat and corn. You and your kids might still be able to find piles of stones that homesteaders made when they cleared the land for farming.
2. Upper Hawksbill Trail
The summit of Hawksbill Mountain has two lookout areas providing fantastic views of the park. Theyre at the highest points in the national park and a cant-miss destination for those who can manage the 2.1 miles round trip. The lookouts are some of the more popular destinations for hikers, but there’s plenty of room at the top for visitors to relax and drink in the view. Near the summit, you’ll find a day-use stone hut where you can have a picnic overlooking the valley. The trek itself is suitable for most hikers, with an even ground that follows paved road for part of the way.
3. Dark Hollow Falls Trail
The Dark Hollow Falls Trail is widely popular with families, and almost always recommended by the park staff. It’s a short 1.4-mile hike that runs over the mainly even ground. Despite the few rocky patches along the way, even very young children should be able to walk on the path without too much trouble. The trail leads to the Dark Hollow Falls, one of the most accessible waterfalls to reach while hiking. The falls tumble from above into pools at the trails end. From there, hikers can turn back, or continue on to the Rose River Trail.
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4. Rose River Trail
The Dark Hollow Falls Trail and the Rose River Trail intersect at a cascading waterfall thats a lower section of the Dark Hollow waterfalls. It’s not so hard to continue along the Rose River Trail, but note that the return trip is mostly an uphill walk. Youll have plenty of shade on the path but plan for a longer return trip if you continue down the Rose River Trail. The main attraction on this hike is the Rose River Falls, and it is about four miles to complete.
5. Bearfence Mountain Trail
If a stunning view is rewarding enough, you’ll want to attempt the Bearfence Mountain Trail. It’s a short but challenging hike, more suitable for older kids who can scramble over rocks. But if you have kids who can and enjoy using their hands and feet to climb over rock ledges, you will all be rewarded with a 360-degree view of the surrounding area at the finish line. The view, which extends over the mountains and valleys, is reachable after just a 1.2-mile hike.
6. Appalachian Trail
Those who prefer less of a challenge than the Bearfence Mountain Trail can hike the Appalachian Trail for an 180-view. This trek leads to a lookout just short of the Bearfence Mountain peak. Though the view isn’t as panoramic, hikers don’t have to scramble over rock ledges using their hands and feet to reach the lookout point.
7. Stony Man Trail
If attempting to hike the highest point in Shenandoah National Park seems like too much of a challenge, the second highest point also offers a spectacular vantage point over the valley. From Stony Man peak, you can see the Massanutten and Allegheny Mountains, the expanse of the Shenandoah Valley and even the town of Luray. The trail is family friendly, with an incline that rises gradually, and a total distance of about 1.6 miles.
8. Lewis Falls Trail
Waterfalls have such a wow factor for people of all ages, but the Lewis Falls is especially breathtaking. Considered one of the most beautiful falls in the national park, the Lewis Falls can be reached by a 3.3-mile loop trail. The hike is not for the very young, as parts of the trail are rocky and steep. However, for families with older kids who can make the trek, the Lewis Falls are well worth the effort.
9. Old Rag Trail
If you have hiking enthusiasts in your midst, the Old Rag Trail is a favorable all-day hike option. The trail is a favorite among those who seek a challenge. It’s 9.2 miles, not all of which is easy. Parts of the trail run over rocky ground and through narrow corridors. It even requires hikers to scramble over rocks and big boulders. While the views from the trail are the biggest draw, it’s a fun one to attempt even for part of the way.
10. Cedar Run Trail
The Cedar Run Trail is part of the Whiteoak Canyon area, which offers a varied selection of hikes. The entire trail circuit from Cedar Run to Whiteoak is more of an all-day hike, but visitors can choose to walk just a part of the trails. The loop passes the Whiteoak Cascades, which is an 86-foot-high vision of beauty, as well as an area where hikers can swim and slide down rocks. The entire circuit is considered a difficult hike, but its not as hard to see even just a few of the eight waterfalls.
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