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

There are some challenges clambering through the rocks on the way up, but it's worth it! Amazing views, plus I rounded a corner on the way down to find a bear digging at the foot of a tree! Absolutely loved this hike and can't wait to do it again!

This whole area is a gem, western views for us eastern folks. The AT thru here can be rocky so wear good boots. Decent water sources and plenty of great camp spots. Take side trips and explorer. This trail is only a good introduction. BTW it is Rhodo Gap not Rodie. Tons of Rhododendrons in the area.

This hike is so much fun! You start by climbing up the mountain in a beautiful shaded area then once you get close to the summit the rock scramble starts. Keep in mind that the rock scramble is mostly bare so bring sunscreen. There are about three or four false summits before getting to old rag and the rock scrambling is pretty difficult. We brought 3 liters of water for two people and snacks which was just enough. Only do this hike if you are comfortable climbing lots of rocks because the scrambling is intense but again so much fun!!

Heavily traveled, iconic photo spot. Parking can be difficult. If you want an easier option, hike up the trail and down the fire road. I have done this on sunset hikes.

backpacking
3 days ago

Challenging loop, we did 10-11mi on day one & camped at Campbell Creek. Waterfalls were beautiful & plenty of nice swimming holes to choose from there. Day two was 3-4mi up Mau-Har & was very steep. A challenge, but very fun with all the boulders!

The hike is really steep the closer to the top you get. The views are good but not the best. Once you’re at the top it’s better just walk the ridge about an extra mile to the Pearis Ledges were there are some amazing views. There are lots of deer around and I steeped on a black snake stretched across the trail. Coming is pretty difficult because it’s so steep and you practically have to run in some spots.

We biked Damascus up to White Top. Took us about 3 hours. The last 3 miles kicked our butts but felt so good to get to the top. We started at mile marker 17 and ended at 33 I believe. The ride down to was a crazy!!!!! Fun but crazy. We were down in about 1 hour. The bridges and views are awesome. The next day we started at trail head in Abingdon and went to Damascus and back. Again the bridges and views were amazing. So in about 31 hours we did about 65 miles. This is an awesome experience. Pack plenty of water and healthy snacks. Not much along the way to get those essentials.

Great hike! Lots of fun.

Lots of incline/decline both ways and very rocky. Trekking poles are very useful. Make sure to bring enough water on hot days. The view is worth it.

Be warned: If you zoom in closely, you will find several portions of this "loop" that look as if someone handed a crayon to a four-year-old. These are points where the author of this trail got lost, and guess what? That gets to be a part of your experience too! That's because this isn't actually a designated trail at all. Rather, it is a patchwork of various smaller trails that someone tried to string together with only marginal success. Even with phone in hand, when you come to a fork in the path, it can be very difficult to discern which way you are supposed to go next. So be wary!

In addition, several portions of the trail are either not well-maintained, or so sparsely trafficked that you can expect to be walking through almost knee-high brush.

Unfortunately, all of this takes away from what would otherwise be a very fun hike that takes you past multiple lookouts with views that do not disappoint, numerous rock formations, and even a handful of stream crossings.

So, if you want to enjoy this hike I would seriously recommend stopping at the visitors center and picking up a map of the local trail system and only using this as a loose template!

We got out by 7am to beat the crowd. Great hike but kinda did it in reverse taking the fire trail up and came back all the way on the AT. The view is worth the hike which I rate as moderate, not hard. Amazing view!

Great view at summit and rewarding for a short hike. Fair amount of traffic.

i adore this hike! my favorite part is the rock scrambles at the top! definitely allow yourself some time to play when you get up there! beautiful all year round! (where shoes appropriate for steep hikes -ankle support- and good grips for the rock climbing, maybe gloves too if your hands are sensitive) *if you start the hike later in the day bring a flashlight just in case!*

It was awesome view up there. trail was not that hard. you can finish in around 4 hours if you are doing hiking once in a month or 2.

Hike is pretty exhausting but my 6 y/o actually did it. Surprised me that I never had to carry her. Don’t expect any amazing views at the summit. It’s just a big rock surrounded by a bunch of trees. Seen several horses on our way back down and actually walked out on the Virginia Horse Trail part which actually seemed easier. Overall good hike but was sore.

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 !!

We only walked about 6 miles on the trail due to it getting late. Despite the trail not being heavily traveled it is very well marked and easy to see.

backpacking
9 days ago

It was an incredible experience

Great payoff for a short hike! Spectacular views!

This is a great difficult mountain to hike. There are a bunch of difficult spots that you have to climb up or squeeze through. Definitely need to be ready to pull yourself up some ledges and wedge yourself up some gaps.
I made a mistake and thought it would be a good idea to go backpack camping for this trip. I planned to check in at the parking and backcountry camp station on the East side and then camp at the junction on the west side. I didn’t understand that with at least a 40lb bag this gets difficult in a lot of ways. You need to squeeze and crawl through gaps, so I was dragging and pushing my bag. You have to climb up steep and areas that don’t have much head room, where you have to throw your bag up. You have to walk along steep ledges, where if your backpack gets caught or unbalanced.... Anyway, I had a lot of fun and the views were gorgeous. There was one area where you had to crawl through where someone took a duke that was disgusting but other than that the hike itself was great. I went during the week and there weren’t too many people. Probably ran into around 40 people during the whole hike.
This hike extremely tired me out with the backpack so by the time that I got to the junction, where I found a backcountry camp site, I set up my tent, ate a bite, bear safed my food, and went straight to sleep. I emphasize to Bear Safe Your Food, because that night a bear was trying to get my food, which I hung on a tree right outside my tent...
In short, I don’t suggest backpacking unless you are very muscular, have a light pack, or you set up at the bottom of the mountain early in the day (10 am latest). It is a very fun and difficult climb and has great views. Make sure to pay attention to trail markers!

backpacking
9 days ago

One of the better backpacking loops in Va. It’s perfect for a two day trek, with an overnighter either at Harpers Creek or Campbells Creek. We started at Reeds Gap, went clockwise and camped at HC after 10.5 miles, which is a few miles more than the signage suggests. My guess is that many of the switchbacks weren’t taken into account when the signs were posted. The ascent is devoid of overlooks, but there’s a great one facing SW a few hundred ft beneath the main summit, and then a handful of stellar views on the way down to the creek. Another pleasant surprise was the amount of waterfall hiking on Day 2 heading up the Mau-Har Trail. It was lovely bouldering / hiking right next to the (at the time) lively creek for a couple of miles. iPhone tracked us at 10.6 mi on Day 1, 5.8 on Day 2, 16.4 total. Seemed about right.

I really enjoyed this hike yesterday (a Fri.) The ascent (counter-clockwise) to the peak is a workout, but definitely doable with some breaks. You do have to deal with a very rocky trail near the top, not a scramble, but probably challenging if not in decent shape. A bonus about this area is that another 3.2 loop (Jack Albright Trail) trailhead is accessible from the Humpback Rock trailhead parking lot. And you can add on to either as the AT is connected to both. The JAT loop was a perfect 2nd hike after doing the HR loop, basically a walk in the woods. Ranger mentioned that he estimated about 6 bears were active in the vicinity. Only saw many people on the up and back to the HR summit.

There’s a reason this hike is rated #1 in Shenandoah area! What an unbelievable hike! We decided to do the full 9 mile circuit trail. The ascent (3.8 miles) is full of excitement and a ton of rock scrambles. It is definitely challenging! In order to complete this hike you must be able to get through rock scrambles and hoist yourself up on boulders. The summit is incredible (360 degree views!), with great views and options to rest along the way. The descent is 5.2 miles but goes by very quickly due to the decrease in difficulty and the constant changing of scenery. It is a beautiful serene place. Make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks! As an experienced hiker I completed this hike in 4 hours with one break. Would suggest this hike 100%, incredible experience an a ton of fun! Would suggest getting there early to beat the crowd. There is a 15 dollar park entry fee.

Absolutely breathtaking

When I did Whitetopto Damascus I thought I was in biking heaven then I found the open glades and varied terrain of the leg from Abingdon to Damascus. Much more open and still follows rushing waters and trestles galore. Dont miss scenic trestle 7 and the long ride over trestle 12. Wide open spaces , Rock walled forest trails and dense forest trails to hide from the sun a perfect mix. If you're planning your stay investigate rooms along the trail maybe even bikepack it. Have fun don't miss this one.

Love this Trail. We started out from Whitetop and rode back up from Damascus, having to use horn at times as most people didn't expect any body coming up. The weather called for light rain but the natural forest canopy repelled the few showers and it cleared later in the day Took us about 4.5 hours total riding took and hour off for lunch in Damascus. Damascus may be the place to stay if you want rentals or only have time to ride one way as several vendors offer bike transport to the trail heads to let you ride downhill. Take tools, watch the ruts, and check equipment periodically for loose bolts and such. Had a blast. Must be beautiful in Fall

I have done this multiple times and it is probably one of the best mid-Atlantic hikes. It is an all day affair and can be rather hard. Make sure you have good weather! The views make the hard climb worth it.

Nice trails, rocky. But the trails are NOT marked so that you can easily find your way.

Overall a really great hike! Well maintained trails and pretty good views at top. One problem is that it's so popular, you'll definitely get into traffic jams near the top if you go on a weekend

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