Explore the most popular dog friendly trails in George Washington National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

This is a great short trail. It is always my default for a spontaneous hike. Just enough of a climb on the way up and a rewarding view once you get to the tower.

Great day hike! Difficult enough to get your heart rate up, but easy enough for most folks to enjoy.

Great views from almost above the clouds. It’s a fun hike with lots of wildlife on the trail

off road driving
27 days ago

Our '91 XJ has a 4" lift and 33" tires
This trail was not very challenging for us but we chose it because we were traveling alone (no extra spotters or tow assistance) and had our 7yo kid and two dogs with us. We had a lovely trip and made it through in a 3-4 hours, while taking plenty of time to explore the creeks, puddles, and overlooks. Before we got there, there had been several days of rain, and a massive thunderstorm the night before, so the puddles were quite deep. Our XJ handled them all just fine, but there were a few I would not recommend trying in a stock vehicle; don't go right after it rains unless you have a lift! The 0.8 mile bypass/alternate trail on the north half of Bald Mountain trail was more challenging than the main trail, but not impossible (we were coming down the hill) for stock vehicles with drivers who have been wheeling before.
My husband's AT&T iPhone was able to get at least one bar of cell service for most of the trip, but there's very little connectivity on the way there.
Overall, this would be a fun trip for anyone who's been wheeling before, but probably not engaging enough for experienced drivers who are looking for a real challenge.
Camping at Sherando Lake Recreational Park was a dream, but there are a bunch of (free) campsites with fire pits near the Southern trailhead by the Blue Ridge Parkway where we will camp if we go again. 4/5 stars, will do again. :)

we loved this but our dog was way more excited to get to the top and splash around

hiking
1 month ago

Got a little lost at one point and there was one place of some fairly serious rock scrambling, but the view was amazing and a picnic at the top just fantastic.

Worth?
Sure..

We did this coming up from the fish hatchery. Pretty blah hike up. Spy Rock almost 360° view pretty cool. Ran into GM and Chef for Devil Backbone brewery on trail. Went and checked DB out after it got 5 stars.

Love this trail. Great for the dogs. Some river crossing but enjoyable.

This hike is one of my favorites in the area, but think maybe it should be marked as hard. Great views at the end but also cool waterfalls on the way up. Trail is a bit confusing after the waterfalls and before the AT. Follow the signs to the trail head for a quarter mile up the hill. Great breweries on the way back to C’ville as a reward

hiking
2 months ago

Views were spectacular and easy enough for kids. Straight uphill to get there but all downhill coming off the mountain and a good wide “road” if you park at the hatchery. Little spotty figuring out the best way to get up and down the rock but we all did fine and well worth the climb.

hiking
2 months ago

Nice trail to get out and stretch your legs. Not the best hike in the region but a good change of pace and with it coming in over 10 miles and more than 2000 foot of altitude gain it is more exercise that some of the "hard" hikes on this list despite being described as "moderate." I went clockwise but do not think it makes too much of a difference.

hiking
2 months ago

Great moderate hike although it was made a tad bit more difficult hiking through the snow. The snow on the trail was packed down due to all the foot traffic which made it easier to trudge through then fresh snow but also made it slippery on the steeper parts. We were glad we brought our trekking poles as they helped tremendously on the steeper, slippery sections. The trail is very well marked in yellow the entire way up and easy to follow. Relatively easy a good deal of the way with some steeper areas especially the last half mile to the tower. The fire tower at summit more than makes up for the lack of a ton of sights most of the way up as the 360 views of Virginia and West Virginia peaks was incredible!!! You can go inside the tower and get out of the elements if needed. Great family hike and moderate is a good description

Awesome view of the wv snow covered mountains in the distance, nice little challenging trip up too.

We hiked this on one of the windiest days of the year with 4 very small children & it kicked our butts! The view was worth it, and we’d definitely do it again, but this was a huge challenge for us! We parked in the Priest Wilderness parking lot on 56 & hiked in from there to the overlook. Did about 7 miles total, as we skipped going to the shelter.

Thia is the easy way to get to the high knob fire tower. Try going down to the Brandywine recreation area, and get on the high knob fire tower trail in the back of the campground. That is still the shortest, hardest hike Ive yet to find, with almost 0 switchbacks and a HUGE elevation gain in about a 5 mile hike.

...if you get tired at points you have to lean your back against a tree to keep from going backward..m

hiking
3 months ago

Krista, thanks for posting your review on the alternate route to Spy Rock. The more people that try this route, the more it will become recognized as superior to the Fish Hatchery route to Spy Rock (hopefully the National Forest will eventually support it). Yes, you can take a normal car up Meadows lane road when the weather is good but you need to be careful and take it slow. There are plenty of good camping areas along the alternate route because it’s all on NF property. However, camping at the base of Spy Rock is not recommended (no water and to much traffic). E-mail me if anyone wants recommendations on camping areas (I know the area very well). Spyrock“at”Mac”dot”com

By the way, the alternate route parking is in Crabtree Meadows. Little grassy spot, be careful of foliage.

backpacking
3 months ago

The fish hatchery is open, thank you, Mike Y.! I let my GPS take me there from northern. VA and I ended up at the alternate route. No problem. A little longer but easier on the body. This was the 4WD route, but my little Honda Accord made it up and down just fine. Just took it slow and watched for holes. Warning - it’s easy to get turned around hiking back down the morning after. Next time I do an overnight i’ll take the fish hatchery route just to east my mind. All in all an amazing trip! The sunset and sunrise simply cannot be beat! Great pick for my first overnight :)

off road driving
5 months ago

This is a great trail with anything from rocks to mud. However if you are concerned about scatching your vehicle I would not recommend this trail. As others have mentioned it gets very narrow in places. I have a 2017 Toyota Tacoma and it rubbed on both sides in many places. Didn't bother me since this is what I bought the Off road addition for (and white). One of the few trails in VA available to the public.

hiking
5 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

Fantastic hike, and great views at the peak. Though, as many others have said: that last quarter/half mile is not easy in the least. Very high grade with a small amount of places to stop to catch one's breath.

Other than that, it's a fantastic trail.

hiking
6 months ago

Awesome trail, awesome views. The last half mile kicked my buff though. It got pretty steep the closer we got to the tower.

Great campsites. Few people.

Laura, it sounds like you were on the correct route. The AT trail takes you to a saddle at the base of Spy Rock but you need to scramble to the top and there is no marked trail to the summit. There is a small sign that reads “Spy Rock” with an arrow at the saddle. It is easy to miss...

Fav place for a short hike

hiking
7 months ago

*Tried* to hike this yesterday....we definitely hiked something. Followed the alternate route directions but weren't entirely sure which gravel road with car camping spots was Cash Hollow as we didn't have reception. Parked off road next to the most obvious road that was at least 3 miles up Meadows Lane & hiked up past a gate & turned Right up the AT like directions said. We never came to a definitive summit or saw other trails leading to one before the AT started to descend again. Was still gorgeous, and an enjoyable hike with no other people in sight/sound. Could someone post photos of the 4WD road or parking area?

hiking
7 months ago

Followed the current recommended route to avoid trespassing. Started the hike in the early morning when it was still dark so that we could watch sunrise from Spy Rock. Good times scrambling at the end. About 2.4 miles each way.

hiking
7 months ago

I love this one. It's a nice steady up hill walk that gets a little rocky and steep towards to the top. Once you get to the top as an FYI u do have to climb the spy rock which can be a challenging both for ppl and dog. I had a husky and a Boston terrier. We came one a foggy day which was amazing to walk through but at the top we didn't see anything so we will be coming back.

7 months ago

Great trail with 360 view at top!

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