Hawksbill Summit Trail is a 1.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Syria, Virginia that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Tallest peak in Shenandoah, nothing to see until summit, then 360 degree view. This trail is steep for nearly the entire hike. You are well inside the tree line for the entire hike, so there is not much to see. Once you reach the byrd shelter the views abound, and just another 100 feet or so, you reach the summit overlook, a beautiful 360 degree view. The NPS has a stone overlook built on the summit, so it's easy to know when you have gotten there. It's a tough walk but worth it. Within an hour you can bag the tallest peak in Shenandoah! There is an alternate version of this hike that is a loop. The hike described in this report is an out an back route.
We ascended via the AT to Salamander Trail to the Summit, and descended by the Lower Hawksbill Trail (see NPS map). Overall, was a nice hike with some cool views along the way... the views from Byrd's Nest 2 and the Observation Platform are amazing - with a great view of Old Rag in the background (off to the right). Agree with the moderate rating - steady incline in the beginning, but nothing intense. Definitely will be returning in the future.
Make this worthwhile by starting at the trailhead base of White oak Canyon Trail. It's a 3000 foot elevation gain.
We did Stoney Man and hawksbill back to back as two quick, easy, rewarding hikes as we wanted to see the two highest peaks in the park in the same day. These two are very close to one another (10 minutes by car). We chose this way to the top of hawksbill because it is the shortest. It's also steep but not crazy. A steady pace will get you there and yes... It s WORTH IT. Little less than a mile up this way.
Recommendation: Park at the Hawks Summit parking area on the west side of the road. When you see the large map at the trailhead, look to the right and hook up with the AT trail and take it up and around. Much easier grade, fewer people, prettier views. Make sure to break off to the left onto the Salamander trail. There is an AT cement marker with a metal band that points out the way to Hawks Summit. Head all the way up to the summit (past Byrd's nest #2), enjoy the rocky outlooks, and then take the Summit trail back down the steeper grade to the parking area. Makes for a great loop and bigger payoff.
Definitely a great hike! 2 year old hiked up most of the way, while exploring every nook and cranny of the trail
We did this trail at the end of August. This trail is nothing but woods the entire way up and it goes up up up. There is no views on the way up just enclosed in forest really. Can be buggy in spots. But once you get to the summit wow 360 degree views over jutting rocks. pretty awesome. threw down a few yoga poses and enjoyed the breeze and views. loved. Wildflowers and butterflies where everywhere on the top. great hike would not miss if i was visiting Shenandoah.
Steep hike, but worth it to see the beautiful view at the top.
well worth the hike
Don't let the short distance fool you, for a non-athlete weekend hiker the ascent is definitely strenuous (steep) but the summit payoff wipes away the sweat immediately and is totally worth it. Lots of jutting rocks at the top make for great pics. Even on a crowded Labor Day weekend, there's plenty to see and plenty of room up there.
My family and I went to Shenandoah almost every year and this was my first major hike with them. I was 7 and still remember the amazing view. highly recommend making the time to hiking to the summit!!
steep up hill climb but worth the view. climb down the rocks at the top for a great pic