Winter Hikes Along the Beerwerks Trail

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There’s nothing better than an exhilarating hike in the crisp winter air. Trails are less crowded, sightlines are clearer when the leaves are off the trees, insects aren’t an issue, and you’ll score an excellent workout without sweating so much. Since you’ll burn extra calories just keeping your body warm, you’ll definitely earn a beer or two after your hike. Read on for some of our favorite cold-weather hikes and Beerwerks brewery pairings.

Augusta Springs Wetlands / 2735 Little Calf Pasture Hwy, Augusta Springs, VA 24411

16 minutes from Skipping Rock Beer Company

The universally accessible Augusta Springs Wetlands is a nice destination for a stroll with kids or dogs on a chilly day. The main trail is a loop that’s under a mile long, and it’s flat, wide, and relies on boardwalks to traverse marshy areas. Random stonework that is all that remains of a long-vanished resort and educational stations offer interest. You can also add additional, more rugged distance to the hike by taking the .7-mile Upland Trail spur. This is a popular place to see birds and look for wildlife.

Bearfence Mountain / Skyline Drive MP 56.4

31 minutes from BrewHaHa Brewing Company

The Bearfence Mountain hike is only 1.4 miles long, but it’s tough. Generally busy in warmer months, winter is an excellent time to visit, but steer clear if there’s snow or ice. You’ll soon be out of breath as you scramble and crawl over the rocks. A wonderful, long-ranging view in all directions awaits you at the top. Leave the pups at home for this one. Dogs aren’t allowed on this trail, and it also may not be suitable for small children.

Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail / 483 Three Notched Mountain Hwy, Waynesboro, VA 22980

3 minutes from Basic City Beer Co.

The Crozet-Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail stretches for 4.5-miles out-and-back between parking areas on either side of Afton Mountain. Perfect for the winter, the wide trail follows an old railroad bed, so it’s relatively flat, and it’s clear of rocky areas that could be hidden under snow or leaves. The tunnel itself was built in the 1850s and recently restored and opened for public hiking and biking. It stretches for nearly a mile and maintains a temperature around 60 degrees, regardless of the weather outside. The inside of the tunnel is very dark, so bring a light.

Cedar Creek Trail / 6477 S Lee Hwy, Natural Bridge, VA 24578

9 minutes from Great Valley Farm Brewery and Winery

Rockbridge County is named after Natural Bridge, a geologically formed 215-foot-high natural arch over a limestone gorge carved by Cedar Creek. For an easy hike with the family, visit Natural Bridge State Park for a view of the bridge, a replica of a Monacan Indian Village, and a two-mile scenic hike along the Cedar Creek Trail to Lace Falls. The trail begins (and ends) with 137 steps, but is fairly flat after that. Check out the short spur trail leading to Saltpeter Cave, which was used as a storage place for ammunition during the Civil War.

Crabtree Falls / 10636 Crabtree Falls Hwy, Tyro, VA 22976

41 minutes from Rockbridge Vineyard and Brewery

Hike the up-and-back 3.8-mile trail for incredible winter views of 1,200-foot Crabtree Falls. One of the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfalls east of the Mississippi, the falls feature five major cascades and many smaller ones. Better yet, the trail employs switchbacks that return you again and again to knockout views, so if you just want a quick stroll, you can shorten the hike and still have it pay off. This steep climb employs steps and railings for safety on the slipperiest sections and the large, walled viewing area at the top features a magnificent view of the Tye River Valley.

Dobie Mountain / Humpback Gap Overlook, Afton, VA 22920

21 minutes from Seven Arrows Brewing Company

The Dobie Mountain loop starts at the parking lot for Humpback Rocks. While it doesn’t have quite the same showstopping summit view, it’s much less crowded, includes fewer steep climbs, and its lovely Glass Hollow Overlook faces west into the Rockfish Valley. If you keep your eyes peeled in the final ascent, you might catch a glimpse of a Beechcraft airplane that wrecked in 1962. The hike is 6.8 miles long but can be shortened to a 4-mile loop.

Montgomery Hall Park / 1000 Montgomery Ave, Staunton, VA 24401

5 minutes from Redbeard Brewing Company

Though there are no tremendous views or water features, the miles of looping trails in Staunton’s Montgomery Hall Park will give you a sense of isolation that’s surprising for an area located within city limits. The well-kept wooded hiking trails cover hilly terrain that will get your heart pumping. The trails are interconnected, so it’s easy to adapt your hike if it becomes too challenging for beginners. This is one of Staunton’s birding hotspots, so bring your binoculars. You might also see deer and other wildlife. 

Natural Chimneys Park Loop / 94 Natural Chimneys Ln, Mt Solon, VA 22843

28 Minutes from Queen City Brewing

Another short hike for families with young children is the flat Natural Chimneys Loop at Natural Chimneys Park and Campground, which skirts the borders of the park and follows a stretch of the North River. Altogether, the park has 2.5 miles of hiking trails that include close and distant vantage points of the imposing limestone chimneys as well as other scenic views from overlooks. Some trails will be too steep for a stroller.

Rocktown Trails at Hillendale Park / 710 Hillandale Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22801

10 minutes from Brothers Craft Brewing

A convenient way to stretch your legs in Harrisonburg is to design your own hike on the looping Rocktown Trails trails at Hillendale Park. Intended for use by hikers, runners, and bikers, the trails are rated by difficulty, so it’s easy to develop a route that feels comfortable for your needs. Hillendale Park also has a 1.3-mile hiking loop.

South River Falls Trail / Skyline Drive MP 63

16 minutes from Elkton Brewing Co.

Don’t forget to take advantage of Shenandoah National Park in the colder months. Many views open after the leaves fall, and water features sport their cold-weather ice formations. The entire South River Falls Trail hike is a 10.6-mile loop, but you can cut it to a manageable 4.8 miles after you see the 83’ falls, one of the largest in Shenandoah National Park. If you choose to do the entire thing, you’ll encounter two old cemeteries, the ruins of the  Upper Pososin Mission, and some lovely views from the ascent and summit of Bald Face Mountain.

Trimble Mountain Hike / Fr 95, West Augusta, VA 24485

41 minutes from Restless Moons Brewing

The 4-mile Trimble Mountain Hike sports pretty views in the winter when the leaves are off the trees. Rated easy to moderate, it’s suitable for families and is relatively quiet. The trail climbs slowly as it wraps around the mountain and offers views of Big Bald and Little Bald Mountains. After the steep descent in the last section of the hike, continue across the road to follow the yellow-blazed trail up the Todd Lake dam for a view of the lake.

Turk Mountain Hike / Skyline Drive MP 93.5

40 minutes from Stable Craft Brewing

Winter is an ideal time to visit the easy 2.5-mile Turk Mountain Hike. This popular destination is often crowded during warmer months, so winter provides more solitude on this trail. Expect some rocky areas near the summit, but also incredible views to the west. If you’re feeling really motivated, this hike can be done as part of a challenging 10-mile loop, which includes multiple stream crossings.

Tips for Winter Hiking

  • Dress in layers. Hikes at higher altitudes may be colder than at home.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Phone service in natural areas can be limited, so leave your plans with a friend.
  • Trails can be icy, so use caution and your trekking poles.
  • Natural areas and roads may close due to weather. Check on the status of your destination before you set out.
  • Keep an eye on the time and carry a flashlight. Daylight is in short supply this time of year.