Exploring Central Virginia and its Hiking Trails

When I moved to Central Virginia, I had no idea what I would find in my proverbial backyard. There are days when planning a trail and I have to just about toss a coin between going on the Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway, two iconic scenic drives that wind their way through the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.

Together, they offer over 469 miles of breathtaking views, diverse landscapes, and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking.

Skyline Drive Central Virginia

Skyline Drive is a 105-mile-long scenic road located within Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It winds its way along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and has a moderate elevation and numerous overlooks.

There are over 500 miles of hiking trails within Shenandoah National Park, ranging from easy, paved paths to challenging backcountry trails.

  • Blackrock Summit: This 1.4-mile roundtrip hike offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
  • Rip Rap Trail is about a 9.8-mile circuit hike when combined with Wildcat Ridge Trail.
Blue Ridge Parkway Central Virginia

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile-long scenic road that runs from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

There are over 200 miles of hiking trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway, ranging from easy, family-friendly paths to challenging backcountry trails. Some of the most popular hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway include:

  • Humpback Rocks Trail  a strenuous 700-foot climb that offers you the reward of a spectacular views of the Rockfish and Shenandoah Valleys
  • White Rock Falls Trail – just about 0.9m miles but you can make it a 4.7-mile loop hike by linking the White Rock Gap and Slacks Trails with the White Rock Falls Trail.

When planning your hike on Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway, be sure to factor in the following:

  • Trail difficulty: Trails are rated according to their difficulty, so be sure to choose a trail that is appropriate for your fitness level and experience.
  • Time of year: The weather in the Appalachian Mountains can vary greatly depending on the time of year. Be sure to check the websites for possible closures due to weather, be aware of the forecast, and pack accordingly.
  • Permits: Some trails may require a permit, so be sure to research this in advance.
  • Supplies: Be sure to pack plenty of water, food, sunscreen, insect repellent, and first-aid supplies.

Additional Resources:

Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway offer some of the best hiking opportunities in central Virginia.

Have you already spent some time on the trails in Central Virginia? If so, I’d love for you to share your favorite spots in the comments below.

German by birth, living, hiking, and camping in the US. Addicted to Coffee. Enjoys going to concerts. Also, Artist + Author. I love to encourage you to explore beyond your backyard. 

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