Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

Shenandoah National Park Loop [CLOSED]

hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(34)
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park Loop is a 24.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Syria, Virginia that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, camping, and backpacking.

Distance: 24.3 miles Elevation Gain: 7,158 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

running

forest

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

scramble

closed

no dogs

Note: This trailhead is currently closed by SNP and the County for the foreseeable future due to community health concerns— NO parking or road access is available. Please check with the park page for more information.

hiking
flooded
scramble
2 months ago

My sister and I did this loop this past Friday (started around 2pm)- Sunday. The trail through Whiteoak Canyon was coated in ice in places, but we were able to maneuver safely and water crossings weren’t too bad. The weather wasn’t ideal, but we stayed in the Rock Spring Shelter on the AT as others have recommended on Friday night, when it rained 3-4 inches and was just above freezing. The shelter itself has a lot of roof leaks, so be prepared to get a bit damp. We unfortunately missed all of the views along the AT due to rain and fog, but it was a pleasant enough hike. Lots and lots of flooded bits of trail. Definitely some intense creek crossings heading toward Old Rag! We were thankful that our camp shoes worked as water shoes because we did get our feet pretty soaked through. We opted to camp along Weakley Hollow Fire Road the second night, where dispersed camping was a little challenging (few flat spots) but doable. Finally had a beautiful morning the last day to climb Old Rag. The trail had a few crowded spots, but the boulders at the scrambles were surprisingly not too slippery or icy despite the recent bad weather. The trail down was pretty muddy and icy in spots, but certainly a welcome relief after the climb with our packs. The last mile or so back to the parking lot is a walk along an asphalt road. This was definitely doable over 3 days/2 nights and a great choice for a long weekend loop.

hiking
rocky
scramble
5 months ago

Old Rag Parking > Old Rag Summit > Barry Hollow > White Oak Canyon > AT > Little Stony (bear) > Corbin Cabin > Nicholson Hollow. Looks to be about 22-23 miles, 5500 elevation, and took 10.5 hours. Old Rag is a scramble - I would not attempt the scramble in the dark. Not convinced everyone I passed made it up. Be sure to fill water in White Oak Canyon. Otherwise no major issues

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
6 months ago

My girlfriend and I did this hike across 3 days, 2 nights in mid-September. I have significant backpacking experience (complete thru-hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail and Vermont's Long Trail), but this was my girlfriend's first backpacking trip. To pick this as her foray into backpacking was a total boyfriend-blunder on my part. She handled it amazingly well, and we truly enjoyed (a majority of) our time out there, but by the middle of our second day, I knew that I had made a mistake. Thankfully, she was able to laugh about it as I carried her limp body across the Chili's parking lot on the drive home. Logistics: Parked at the Lower White Oak parking lot. There was a staffed NPS kiosk in the lot, and the rangers were helpful in setting us up with the necessary permits and some paper trail maps. There is a $15pp park fee, handled on an honor system. Pricier than I expected, but for a good cause. Day 1: - Hitting the trail around 1:45, we had a slightly later start than anticipated. We went clockwise, starting up the Cedar Run Trail. - As the map suggests, the trail climbs along the river for a few miles. Water was low enough that we never got our feet wet on crossings. On a hotter day, we would've loved to dip into one of the beautiful swimming holes along the trail. - Beautiful hiking up to Hawksbill summit. Note that the shelter marked on Alltrails is day use only. - At the Appalachian Trail Junction, we diverged slightly from the route, taking a left and heading south for about .2 of a mile to the Rock Spring AT shelter. - Rock Spring is without a doubt the best camping option for anyone making this a 3-day trip. Ample tent sites around the shelter and a wonderful piped spring for water make the negligible backtracking well worth it. - Cedar Run is well maintained, but it really is a steady bit of climbing. "This is the hardest part of the hike," I said. "It'll be smooth sailing after this." Day 2: - Filtered 3 liters of water before leaving for the day. Water sources along the AT were minimal. We were fine with 3, but an extra could be nice for peace of mind. - The Appalachian Trail segment of the loop is wonderful. smooth, scenic trail that feels like a little sidewalk through the wilderness. Life was good on the AT. We were sad to see it go. - At the top of the loop, we turned south to cross Skyline Drive. GPS got a little wonky here, but we trusted the signage and followed the Nicholson Hollow Trail south. The trail was noticeably less manicured than the AT, but still easy to follow. So began our descent, topographic and otherwise. - At the junction with the Indian Run Trail, we had our first bear encounter. This trail feels the most primitive of any section of the loop. It's not a bushwack, but it's obvious that not too many people come down there. The forest is dense and encroaches on the trail in a way that gives it a certain heaviness. The swarms of bugs and distant thunder exacerbated the effect. While I'm pretty comfortable in the woods, I was looking at the blazes not for navigation, but for reassurance that there had been someone here before us. The ascent proved to be harder than the elevation profile suggests. If you have candy, songs, or any other morale-boosting tools at hand, save them for Indian Run. - Then it started to rain. That "distant thunder" from before found us, and really let us have it. We donned our rain gear and I said a silent thanks to the weather gods for at least having the decency to wait until we were on Corbin Hollow. We filled up water and found a great tent site just off the trail next to Brokenback Run. Good camping options the whole way if you keep your eyes out. Day 3: - The Ridge Trail switches back and forth for a smooth climb up the base of Old Rag. - Then came the rock scramble. If Indian Run was the emotional challenge of the hike, this was the physical. Surprisingly treacherous trail, especially given its popularity. The going was slow and we helped each other with our packs on some of the tighter squeezes. You'll think you're "almost there" at least 5 times before the summit. - The descent to the White Oak Parking is simple after that lengthy ascent.

hiking
scramble
10 months ago

Epic Adventure! My wife and I did this 5/25-527, two nights three full days. It was a perfect amount of time for us. We like to take our time and stop to smell all the roses along the way. Started at Whiteoak parking and hiked clockwise, best move ever! Thanks to Christiana who gives great advice! Started with cedar run waterfall climb and ended with epic ragtop! We did find camping just before little stony man, and another great river campsite off Corbin Hollow. Biggest tip of the trip is; start ragtop early, bring plenty of water and pack as light as u possibly can! It’s a long long climb to the top. Loved the whole trip!

hiking
11 months ago

Did this as a two-day, one night loop starting at Whiteoak and going clockwise. Was looking for a little more solitude than I got (plenty of people on the AT and elsewhere), but camping near Old Rag put me on the summit completely by myself early in the morning, which was awesome. There is some serious elevation gain on this loop, which makes it challenging but enjoyable - the scenery changes as you go up and down. It was still very cold at night in April. Very solid hike. I think clockwise is the way to go.

11 months ago

This is the best hike I ever took.

backpacking
11 months ago

Otis and others, I was wondering if you had any advice on where to start this hike. I'm going out there with 3 others this week, and we're trying to figure out a parking lot to park and start the hike. We may be starting later in the day on Thursday 5/2, so we would only be hiking a few miles before needing to set up camp. Any help would be great!

hiking
rocky
scramble
11 months ago

I completed this hike with a friend Sunday to Monday over Easter weekend. The views are amazing and all of that, but I want to share what I learned from my experience for those of you about to attempt this as a backpacking adventure. 1. I would recommend that you do this as a 2-day, 1-night trip. There are no legal campsites along the AT, which makes it difficult to stretch this into a 3-day journey. 2. The trails can be very challenging at times even if you are a seasoned hiker. The calculated distance of this trail looks manageable, but keep in mind that there are several challenging climbs along the way. Doing too much in one day will be too strenuous for most people, So try to get at least 14 miles on your first day. 3. Do NOT begin this hike at Hawksbill gap or anywhere along the AT. Park either at White Oak Canyon or Berry Hollow. I made the mistake of parking at Hawksbill Gap and ended up hiking Old Rag and Cedar Run on the same day after camping between Corbin Cabin and Nicholson Hollow. We were hurting by the end of it. 4. Travel light. Scrambling up the rocks at Old Rag is difficult and can be dangerous if lose your balance in certain places. I recommend traveling with as small a pack as possible. It’s very difficult if not impossible to squeeze through a couple of the crevices with a fully loaded backpack. 5. Cedar Run is arguably the most strenuous part of this hike. The trail is 3 miles straight elevation gain from White Oak Canyon to Skyline Drive. Then you have another “easier” climb up Hawksbill immediately after it. The first five miles are essentially climbing straight up for 5 or so miles, so make sure you’re fresh before you attempt it. 6. There are several water crossings to contend with at Nicholson Hollow and Cedar Run. If the water is high, you should plan on getting wet. I recommend bringing a pair of water shoes and wading across the shallow areas unless you’re nimble enough to jump from one wet rock to another without falling into a strong current. 7. Try to do this on an off day during the week. Old Rag and Cedar Run can become crowded, and nobody likes crowds. I’d recommend trying to reserve Corbin Cabin for your first night if you are hiking mid-week, If you can’t get Corbin Cabin, there are decent places to camp just beyond it. That’s it. It really is a great hike, but plan to be challenged along the way. Enjoy!

hiking
off trail
rocky
snow
Tue Mar 12 2019

my first time and the views were amazing

hiking
Sun Nov 04 2018

Today was beautiful for a hike!

hiking
Thu Oct 25 2018

hike is great, but dogs are not permitted at Old Rag - please correct your information!

Tue Oct 09 2018

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!!

Fri Aug 17 2018

The mountains were so blue!! The views did not disappoint!

hiking
Wed Jul 11 2018

If you are looking for a challenging, easy to navigate with plenty of vertical, excellent waterfalls and is in the mid 20s mile overnight, this is an absolutely wonderful trek. Some pretty fine Appalachian vistas, wind sucking climbs, periods of solitude mixed with clumps of tenderfoots and tourists keep it ever amusing. Then comes that close out rock scramble up Old Rag giving this adventure a "something to remember me by signature." A few items if you plan to do this as an overnight. (1) Water. Assuming you carry a purification system, the only exception to plenty along the way are the stretches from the base of Hawksbill to Indian Run (about two miles after you leave the AT) and of course once you start climbing the Rag until you finish. Other than those stretches you can fill about a liter at a time and be fine. (2) Something about "Stoney Man" was a must do for this 60 something Dead fan. The top was fittingly cloudy but certainly worth the side trip. (3) Try to time your adventure to NOT hit Old Rag on a perfect weather weekend as It can make for more people around than you care for. I had the pleasure of a clear, 70ish degree July Saturday and although the folks were always pleasant, helpful and smiling it made for a bit of congestion and hollywooding. Nothing however can take away from the physical challenge and beauty that is Old Rag. Bottom Line, DO it !!

hiking
Fri Jul 06 2018

If you are looking for a challenging, easy to navigate trail with excellent waterfall views and is a 30ish mile overnight, this is an absolutely wonderful trek. Some pretty fine Appalachian vistas, wind sucking climbs, periods of solitude mixed with clumps of tenderfoots and tourists keep it ever amusing. Then comes that close out rock scramble up Old Rag giving this adventure a "something to remember me by signature." A few items if you plan to do this as an overnight. (1) Water. Assuming you carry a purification system, the only exception to plenty along the way are the stretches from the base of Hawksbill to Indian Run (about two miles after you leave the AT) and of course once you start climbing the Rag until you finish. Other than those stretches you can fill about a liter at a time and be fine. (2) Something about "Stoney Man" was a must do for this 60 something Dead fan. The top was fittingly cloudy but certainly worth the side trip. (3) Try to time your adventure to NOT hit Old Rag on a perfect weather weekend as It can make for more people around than you care for. I had the pleasure of a clear, 70ish degree July Saturday and although the folks were always pleasant, helpful and smiling it made for a bit of congestion and hollywooding. Nothing however can take away from the physical challenge and beauty that is Old Rag. Bottom Line, DO it !!

hiking
Fri Jun 29 2018

Thanks to Christian who did a great and help full review! I followed his suggestion and did the loop in clockwise. Good thing about this loop is that you get to see everything on the center section of the Shenandoah. Bad part is...24 miles up and down the valley was no joke! Below is my part of the review and tips for future hikers. Water: I carried three bottles of Smart Water(1L) and it was enough for two days. There is water resources everywhere and if you carry a Sawyer you wouldn’t have a problem. Camp: finding a dissent campsites was pretty hard. I was using a single man mountaineering tent which doesn’t take much space to setup. And I was doing solo. But if you’re planning to use a bigger then a two men tent or hiking with a group, this could be hard. I camped out at the Nicholson Hollow Trail. (close to the junction of Indian Run ) *There were no camp site at Corbin Cabin so don’t bother to go all the way down there. I left some Pin marks on the map that I thought will be a good site for future reference. Bears: I personally did not see any. Although, I was told that there’s a bear on the side of the trail from the southbounders on the AT. Hoping to see one but did not encounter. So, who is this loop recommended for? Some one who would like to take their time and see the breathtaking sights of the back country. This loop will count up to 11 trails and plenty of stream crossing. Be prepared and keep on hiking!!

backpacking
Tue May 01 2018

This was an awesome hike that I did as a 2 day 1 overnight backpacking trip. Following is some information that I hope is helpful. I would recommend doing it clockwise so you get to go up the boulders of Old Rag and end on the Fire roads. Note the bouldering is difficult with a full pack, I had to take it off about 10 times to go around, over, under, through the boulders. I was very lucky that I had awesome people around me that helped me lift my pack up a few times on some more challenging sections. Still possible alone, but definitely saves time. Very fun! Water: There's lots of water along Cedar Run Trail and some fun river crossings until you get to Skyline drive. Then there's not a lot of water until you get to the bottom of Nicholson Hollow Trail. There's a nice stream there you cross 2x. There are also a lot smaller streams after you make the climb up Indian Run Trail, but I'm not sure how consistent they are during dry spells (it rained the day before I went). There's lots of water again along Corbin Hollow Trail. Camping: I hiked about 14 miles day one, 10 miles day two. You may be able to camp at Corbin Cabin, I think that cabin is more than just day use but not positive. There were a bunch of camping spots on Indian Run Trail. I camped at a great spot just a little before Old Rag Fire Road. There may have also been some spots that followed back country camping rules at the beginning of Corbin Hollow Trail and off of Weakley Hollow Fire Road. Note, at least this weekend there were a lot of people along the whole trail except for Nicholson Hollow Trail until I got closer to the Old Rag Parking area. An amazing hike! I think next time I want to hike up Old Rag without a pack! :) ENJOY and Happy Trails!!

camping
Thu Apr 26 2018

An awesome hike and great adventure...One of the best hikes I have ever been on!!

hiking
Sun Aug 13 2017

Did this as a day hike and it took 10:30 hours, I started walking down some wrong paths and taking some detours to see some lookout points so ended up being 26.6 miles. I saw 4 bears, you may want to wear bells or something. It was a great hike overall!

Sun Aug 06 2017

Working on plannign this hike, can't find anything on it outside this website and need to learn about camping options and leg length (by day). Hoping to do it in two days, planning on driving out THU night and hiking, full day of hiking friday and saturday, leave sunday morning early. If anyone has advice I'd appreciate it.

backpacking
Fri Apr 21 2017

white oak canyon boundary up cedar run to hawksbill, do loop salamander to hawksbill peak. hop on the trail north to stony man. will pass skyland. strony and little stony til you get to nicholson hollow. take nicholson all the way to base of old rag and then hit old rag. 4 peaks can be done in less than 2 days. Corbin Cabin off nicholson a fair halfway point. Can add robertson peak to the trip. Superb mix of creek, river, waterfall, peak, scramble, views. Everything is breathtaking.

hiking
18 days ago

Load More