View Full Version : Recommend a day hike?

12-03-2011, 18:24
My sister, her grandson(10) and I are hoping to do a short day hike in Shenandoah National Park or the area south of the park off the Blue Ridge Parkway in late December. Is it possible to get into the park or parkway and do day hikes at that time of year? Is there a hike anyone could recommend? I figure we could do a three mile round trip hike, or a little more. I want them to like it so they are willing to go again. Any suggestions would be welcome. Thanks. Pringles

12-03-2011, 19:14
The Skyline Drive in Shenandoah Nat'l Park stays open from dawn to dusk during hunting season . The fee to enter is $15 a car ($10 possibly now) and is good for 7 days.
I'm not sure where you plan on entering SNP , but I'll mention a few in each of the three districts inside the park.

Northern District : Jeremys Run is a 5 mile circuit hike with moderate elevation changes . This hike has stream crossings which your nephew will enjoy .
The trailhead starts at the back end of Elkwallow Picnic Area at milepost 24.1

Central District : Hawksbill Summit is a 2.8 mile hike to the highest elevation in the park with a 280 degree view of the valley below . This hike can be a loop or an out-an-back .
The trail begins at the north end of hawksbill parking lot at mile post 45.6.

Southern District: Calvary / Chimney Rocks is a 3.2 out and back hike which is moderately easy and is a walk through old growth trees
This hike starts at the Rip Rap parking lot at milepost 90 . Take the Appalachian Trail north.

12-03-2011, 19:14
Humpback Rocks, Crabtree Falls, and Spy Rock are all short, popular day hikes in the area south of Reeds Gap. Both the Drive and the Parkway are open unless there is closure due to snow- they do not clear the roads up there. The Last two hikes I mentioned are accessible off St Rt 56. Hope this helps.

12-04-2011, 14:09
Thanks for the great suggestions! Pringles

12-06-2011, 18:22
You can park at the southern terminus of Skyline Drive, aka Rockfish Gap, which is by definition also the northern end of the Blueridge Parkway. The parking lot is outside the gate/kiosk, and therefore you don't have to pay to park and walk in, as opposed to driving in which does cost as noted above. They don't frown on this fee avoidance; it's what the lot is for. Perhaps the small fee doesn't matter to you, but just so you know... From there you can do an in-&-out, or you could walk in and hitch a ride out. While hitching in Shenandoah is comparatively easy and safe, I personally wouldn't do it with a 10 year old.

The park has a recorded message at 1-540-999-3500. Among the message's various options is regularly-updated road/park closing info. After dialing, you'll push 1, and then 1 again, to get the message for current closings. Generally Skyline road will either be open, closed, or closed in the northern half, or closed in the southern half. As of today, the message says that it's all open. If it's closed, you can still park at Rockfish Gap and walk south. And for that matter, you could still walk north from there, for it's the road--not the park--that closes. But from my perspective, if the road is closed then the park is cold/snowy/wet enough that you may not want a 10 year old on the trail in there anyway.

The Trails Illustrated/National Geographic map for SNP is especially good, giving more detailed mileage than most TI/NG maps that include AT sections. Plus, there's surely a map available at the gate, though perhaps for a small fee.

12-06-2011, 22:41
....The Trails Illustrated/National Geographic map for SNP is especially good, giving more detailed mileage than most TI/NG maps that include AT sections. Plus, there's surely a map available at the gate, though perhaps for a small fee.

The only maps I know of at the entrance station are the freebie Park brochures - adequate for a short hike perhaps but I'd recommend a better quality map. The PATC (http://www.patc.net/PublicView/Shop_at_the_PATC_Store/BrowseCategories/Core/Orders/category.aspx?catid=5) sells maps for each of the 3 SNP districts (Nos 9, 10, and 11) plus areas of the AT both south and north of SNP.

12-06-2011, 22:43
Thank you. I don't mind the fee, I buy the yearly national parks pass. I drove by Rockfish Gap a few years ago during the winter, and Skyline Drive was closed. I wasnt sure if the road closes in the winter, or only when there's snow, so that number is good to know. Thanks again! Pringles

12-17-2011, 22:35
A good 3 mile day hike is the lewis falls loop. You can park at Big Meadows and take lunch to the falls. I did that last year with a non-hiking friend and he loved it.

12-31-2011, 21:08
We did the hike to Calvary Rocks/Chimney Rocks. The weather was beautiful, and I think the 10 year old had a good enough time that he's hooked! That's exactly the intended goal. Thanks for all the suggestions! Pringles