Outdoor Adventures:

Hiking & Natural Wonders

Known for its showstopping vistas from both the Valley and the ridges above it, the Shenandoah Valley offers hikes for every ability level. Hop off the Blue Ridge Parkway for a short leg-stretcher leading to a scenic overlook with views for miles, or venture into Shenandoah National Park or the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest to discover waterfalls, hidden meadows, and even a historic railroad tunnel. We’ve also included caves and natural wonders like limestone bridges, towers, and cave systems. We can’t possibly list them all, but here are a few of our favorites.


Appalachian Trail and Shenandoah National Park

  • Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, Buena Vista, and Glasgow are Appalachian Trail communities. This means that they allow easy access to the trail as well as support for weary hikers.  
  • Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails including 101 miles of the A.T. Lots of resources are available online to find a hike that fits your skill level and time frame. Or you can drive the stunning Skyline Drive and enjoy the views from more than 75 scenic overlook stops.

Augusta County

  • An ideal destination for both hikers and history lovers, the 4.5-mile Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail cuts under Afton Mountain along an old railroad bed. The tunnel was originally constructed in the 1850s and was the longest of its kind.
  • Crabtree Falls is a beautiful waterfall hike with a series of five cascades falling 1,200 feet. The trail provides views of the falls from overlooks, and the first one just 700 feet from the lower parking lot. After reaching the top, more adventurous hikers can continue on to Crabtree Meadows where the trail ends, or to the Appalachian Trail, just a half mile further.
  • Humpback Rocks on the Blue Ridge Parkway features the Mountain Farm Trail and a rock outcropping at the end with an amazing view of the Valley. 

Rockingham County

  • If you’re looking for a moderately difficult hike with a rock scramble and a beautiful, 360-degree view, the 7.7- mile Church Rock hike is a good bet. Bonus: it’s rarely crowded.
  • You can’t beat High Knob Fire Tower hike for views – even the one from the parking lot is pretty good. The hike is only 2.7 miles and includes a visit to the historic 1940s fire tower.
  • 3,587-foot Hightop Mountain is one of the highest points in Shenandoah National Park and it offers amazing views that stretch west across the Valley. The 3-mile hike is near SNP’s Swift Run Gap Entrance. You’ll climb steadily through the trees to the peak, but the way back is all downhill.
  • The moderately challenging 7.7-mile Furnace Mountain hike gives you a choice of two summits to tag: Blackrock and Trayfoot. 

Rockbridge County

  • In Rockbridge County, heading up the 3,645 ft. summit of Big House Mountain results in panoramas like no other. 
  • Goshen Pass, another favorite, has a swinging bridge to traverse before starting up the rugged Chamber’s Ridge Trail

Natural Wonders

One could refer to the Valley itself as a natural wonder, but tucked away in its folds and around the next curve are some awe-inspiring natural formations. 

  • Once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, Natural Bridge arches 215 feet above Cedar Creek. Nearby, Natural Bridge Caverns extend 34 stories underground. They’re the deepest caverns on the East Coast. Natural Bridge State Park, which was recently named a Dark Sky Park. Because of limited light pollution, it offers incredible views. You can also find dark skies in Shenandoah National Park and George Washington National Forest.
  • Natural Chimneys formed 500 million years ago when the entire region was underwater. The 120-ft. limestone chimney-shaped rocks are the centerpiece of a family campground and recreation area and home of the annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival.
  • Grand Caverns is a National Natural Landmark as well as the oldest commercial “show cave” in the country. Visitors can take walking tours or get dirty on one of the extensive rugged tours. 
  • Not only can you explore Melrose Caverns interesting geological features, but you’ll also explore areas used by soldiers during the Civil War. Visitors can still see well-preserved drawings and name carvings in the rock.

Other Adventures

  • Pit yourself against mud and obstacles with an adventure race. Try tackling a mud run like Waynesboro’s Mad Anthony Mud Run or Daytons’ Muddler Adventure Race. Lexington’s Road River Relay combines biking, running, and paddling.
  • Want more mud? Tackle the national forest with Terra Overland. Not only will you get plenty muddy, but you’ll also see amazing scenery, lakes, and wildlife. Book a chauffeured tour, rent a Jeep to drive yourself, or bring your own rig but make use of their guide services.

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