Explore the most popular camping trails in Shenandoah National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

As an experienced hiker I wouldn’t rate this as easy for SNP. Great for camping.

1 day ago

Loved this hike! Fall weather is perfect for this trail because I hardly sweated at all (even though the hike is long)! Super beautiful views from so many spots and everyone is really friendly. No pets are allowed for a good reason (some parts are very challenging climbs)!

backpacking
1 day ago

We didn’t actually do the full loop because we were just backpacking in to camp one night by the river. We parked at Elkwallow Wayside and backpacked along the AT for about half a mile, then onto Jeremy’s Run Trail. We saw a bear about a mile into our hike. The path down to the river had a gentle grade then along the river it was very easy. There were several river crossings, and on a few of them we had to work hard to keep from getting our feet wet. We walked along the river for about six miles, then turned around and backtracked to a place we’d passed by earlier that was perfect for setting up our tent. It was a very pleasant night and we were awakened by what sounded like a group of barred owls calling to each other. The next day the hike out was very quick, and we saw a bear along the AT behind Elkwallow. There weren’t very many people on this trail. I think it’d be perfect for a family with young children because you don’t have to go very far before getting to the river.

Amazing experience! Just watch the weather because it was dry and sunny at the base but rainy and slippery at the top. Also carry an extra jacket and leave your hands free; you’ll need them!

hiking
5 days ago

Only managed to do part of the trail due to time restrictions, but decent hike. We went counter clockwise so had a decent amount of elevation change. Hope to return to finish the rest of the trail.

It was great!! We ended up starting at Hawksbill Gap parking lot because the Whiteoak lot was closed. We also went all the way down Nicholson Hollow to link up with Old Rag instead of going south on Indian Run, but the trail was absolutely stunning. We set up camp next to a stream and the sound of the water at night was so relaxing. I would suggest doing more miles on the first day because if you do the loop clockwise, most of your energy will be spend hiking Old Rag and Cedar Run. Old Rag is the most strenuous hike in the park and pretty challenging but doable with a 50L pack. Cedar run is straight uphill. Pretty much like climbing stairs for a few hours.

If you can start at whiteoak parking lot, I would suggest doing that so you can start with cedar run and end with old rag. I would just highly suggest doing those two trails on separate days.

There was some great camping spots all along Nicholson hollow. We camped about a mile or so past Corbin Cabin (a completely random cabin in the middle of the woods).

All in all, AMAZING hike and would definitely do it again!!

We did this as a 3 day/2 night backpack. The SNP website has it listed as one of their “backcountry camping” trips. We started on Patterson, which was quite the 3 mi descent, then had a pleasant, flat walk along Big Run Portal. While walking alongside the river a black bear crossed the river and passed right in between my husband and me. There were a few river crossings, and one we had to slosh through (not enough rocks to step on). We camped along Big Run Portal, and that first day/night we never saw another person. The next morning we proceeded along the route and started coming across people right away, all of whom had hiked in from the other direction. We accidentally turned left onto Big Run Loop Trail North (instead of turning R onto Big Run Loop Trail South) and after a steep 3 mile climb we unexpectedly found ourselves at Big Run Overlook. We were tired and decided that instead of hiking south along the AT to pick up where we were supposed to be, we would just cross over Skyline and go down Doyles River Trail and set up camp earlier than planned. There were a lot of people on this trail, which was a stark contrast from the day before. We hiked down about 3 miles, past the beautiful waterfalls, and found a great place to camp and soak my sore, tired feet. We actually met some other backpackers who suggested where to camp, and I think he might be the previous reviewer (Jordan Cox) because I see from the photos that we camped at the same spot! The next morning we started back in the reverse direction, going uphill, which was back on track for the intended route. It was also a lot easier on the toes but harder on my sore legs. The last few miles along the AT and Frazier Discovery Trail just seemed to go on forever and we were so happy to get back to Loft Mtn Wayside and have a bean burger before getting in the car to head home. All in all, it was a great weekend. Lots of challenge, beautiful scenery, and terrific camping. I know I couldn’t do it in a day, but would highly recommend it for the 3 day backpacking/back country camping.

A great weekend trip. We definitely underestimated the number of river crossings. I suggest water shoes or be prepared to stop and take your boots off and put them back on once you cross. The crossings were an inconvenience but they made the trip interesting. I will do this one again.

Beautiful hike. Lots of water(falls), plenty of wildlife, amazing scenery. Last 6 miles is a bit tough. Definitely start with Patterson, though.

Lots of rocks! I had tennis shoes and definitely wished I had hiking boots. Tough hike for a novice and I think I nearly sprained my ankle 4-5 times. It was very challenging but lots of fun.

Fantastic & dynamic trail with large boulders to climb over

As always - Old Rag never disappoints. Took a leisurely 8 hours with stops for views, lunch, rests (we're in our late 50s/60s). Saw about 20 people on a Tuesday. Not much color yet. Check the humidity before going. It was 70 degrees, but humid. Shirt was soaking wet in no time. Drink 16 oz water at parking lot, and carry at least 48 oz. I only took 32 oz and was thirsty. No bears or snakes. But fun to watch the birds soaring beneath you. With no passes, it will cost you $20-$30 for entrance fee, based on the number of people in your car. There is a ranger at the parking lot.

Fantastic hike! The view on the rocky part of the hike is truly beautiful.

3rd time for me. I’m 63 years old. It is very hard but very rewarding when you reach the summit. I wear Solomon hikers, low tops, and have zero issues with gripping on rocks, and toes pushing forward in long downhill. Can’t say enough how important lightweight but strong soled shoes are. Also good fitting gloves. Mine are leather and sinch at wrist and are actually garden gloves but they work awesome for getting traction in rock crevices and surfaces. Unless you are doing it alone, it’s important to check the condition of your companions along the way.. Sometimes I can go without a lot of breaks, other times I’m stopping 5 min after each obstacle. I use 1-1/2 liters of water for the entire loop. But I bring 2 in case someone doesn’t have enough. PB and Js, nuts, and fruit seem to work for me. Water pack should be small and fit well for climbing. So far I’ve seen 2 black snakes, one on path and one in the rock scramble, and a bear crossed the path in front of me a while back. I don’t carry bear spray because this trail is so busy. We were there in a Monday, and still there were maybe 20 cars in the parking lot and we saw folks all along the way. But no backup at the rocks and everyone helped each other get through the obstacles. It took us 6 hours RT back to parking lot. Don’t plan a lot of physical stuff for the next day! It’s an awesome place though and I will go again. There was a little water on some off the rocks, and they could be slippery in places....again good gripping shoes help tremendously.

hiking
13 days ago

Definitely recommend going counterclockwise on the loop! We went clockwise and skipped right past all of the scenic parts. We had a great time but got really frustrated having to cross the river three times and the water was up to our knees. Bring water shoes!

hiking
14 days ago

Tough due to all the rocks but a good hike. Not many view opportunities but a great day in nature.

hiking
15 days ago

Nice quick hike.. great views from the summit

Rock scramble was awesome

I was in Richmond for buisness and had a free morning. Went early on a Wednesday, no crowd. Was a little wet so some rocks were slippery. About 4 hrs. Trail was amazing. The boulders up high and rock formations were awesome. I would definitely recommend this hike. Worth the drive.

hiking
21 days ago

Definitely would have rated this moderate. You go down 400 feet before an uphill incline of that and more. Lots of rocks on the trail and the last bit involves climbing over giant rocks. Still I beautiful view though.

A little crowded on the rock sections yesterday but overall great views and weather. Would suggest some caution given all the rain recently through the rock sections, finding alternative areas to grip may present additional challenges but overall still a great hike.

Did it today, definitely a couple parts that are challenging. Ensure you have a good set of shoes or boots with some grip for the areas of the boulders that are slippery. Awesome views, would love to get some pictures during the fall when the leaves start changing!

12.57 miles, 1st time on this trail, took a wrong turn and ended up taking a little longer route back. It rain the night before, very foggy at 7:30am, drizzling rain through the trees most of the morning. Made it a little wet and muddy. Great hike. Definitely took advantage of the waterfalls and swimming holes every chance!

I’ve done this hike once before and I’m excited to do it again tomorrow! Very fun and gorgeous views!

Love climbing the rocks

Challenging and long! Beautiful views.

went yesterday and was amazing. my phone died so my recording all got half but it was beautiful ontop. everytime you think you made it, you didn't. the best 360 degree view is a little before you reach the summit. it wasn't too hard but it did take awhile because I stopped a million times to take alot of pictures. I really think if you try hard, anyone can do this hike. my husband isnt into hiking like I am. .so he is a little out of shape...but he did fine with me helping. I also saw kids doing it. the trail is pretty easy to follow. you have no service up top but all trails always works no matter service or not

Was boring at times with only a couple great views. The watering hole was a lot of fun though.

What can i say that hasn’t been already said. Must do if you’re in Shenandoah!!!

backpacking
28 days ago

Always a must.

- start out as early as possible, 10am the lot is packed
- show ranger your NPS ticket so you don't get ticketed
- porter potties at the start, but there are two
outhouses near the top.
- lots of water, at least 1 liter per person
- brings snacks to munch on at the top while enjoying the views
- definitely suggest boots for ankle support
- you can get easily lost chasing the blue paint marks but it kind of makes it fun
- the natural jungle gym is incredible, yes challenging physically and mentally, but after completed I wish I would've enjoyed it more instead of stressing over my next footing or body odor
- creatures seen: Turkey vultures, bald eagle, crows, smaller birds, raccoon, bunches of insects larger beetles to moths, and a juvenile black bear!

-only negative is the amount of people, hence arrive early or camp overnight.

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