Virginia has many amazing hiking trails, some nestled along the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, some on Skyline Drive, or in many of the other great outdoor spaces in the state. Some are more popular and crowded than others, while others are a little more secluded yet still offer fantastic views and experiences. Here are 7 of the best hiking trails In Virginia! Listed in no particular order.
1) Old Rag
Might as well start with one of the most popular hikes in Virginia. It’s about a 9-mile hike that can get pretty busy and for good reason. It starts with your everyday lovely walk on the trails. But then it turns into a really fun rock scramble.
That can be pretty challenging at times. On nice days, expect to share the trail with a good amount of people. There may even be a few spots with a line as traversing certain spots may cause a bottleneck with hikers.
Even with the crowds, it’s still a must-do hike for VA residents or visitors, just try to go in the off-season or get there early.
And now there is a ticket system in place due to its popularity. Check out the official website for more details.
2) Mount Pleasant
A 6 or so mile loop hike, perfect for day trips. This hike has 2 summits with beautiful views. With a few campsites near the summits. Just watch the wind up there if camping, it can get pretty brutal during the off-season.
Once you get to the top, Mount Pleasant East is the view to the left. And Mount Pleasant West to the right. Both are pretty close to each other and not far off the trail. To see the views at Mount Pleasant West you’ll need to scramble up a small boulder. Not too bad, there are plenty of steps.
If interested in making this a bit longer of a trip, you can add in the Appalachian Trail & Hotel Trail loop. That loop is approx 7.5 miles. Both loops begin and loop back where parking is at Hog Camp Gap.
This loop includes the beautiful views on top of Mt Cole. If you time it right, and camp at or near Cowcamp Gap Shelter, you can catch the sunrise here. Something I highly recommend! Or you can hike it reversed. Stay the night at Mt Cole, watch the sunrise the next morning then do the hike.
But be cautious on the drive up as the road might be a little rough for standard cars, SUVs or vehicles with higher clearances will be a better bet for you.
3) Mount Rogers
Ponies galore! They’re everywhere here, along with some amazing views throughout the area. There are plenty of loops and trail lengths to choose from here.
I’d recommend skipping the Mount Rogers Summit though if you’re hoping to catch some views. Although it’s the highest natural point in Virginia, it’s surrounded by trees and there are no views.
And don’t try to feed or pet the ponies, even if they come up to you and block the trail. Just simply walk around them.
4) Three Ridges
Probably my favorite hike, personally, due to its versatility and perfect length for a weekend hike. But I’m also not the only one to think that way. Similar to Old Rag, if going during Spring/Summer/Fall the hike will likely be pretty busy.
Or at least the parking lots will be full, so it’s recommended to get there early or late. I’ve noticed the crowds tend to focus on the actual three ridges part of the trail during the day. But if you do the full loop around 14 miles, Mar Har Trail normally isn’t too bad.
Both shelters on the hike can get pretty busy too, but luckily there are plenty of nice camping spots near them and throughout the trail. So you’ll typically be able to find something.
5) Three Falls Hike
Great views and beautiful falls! This hike consists of three waterfalls (hence the name), Rose River Falls, Dark Hallow Falls & Lewis Spring Falls. It can be a little busy, especially at Lewis Spring Falls since it’s close to a parking lot.
I like to start at Rose River Falls, then finish up with Lewis Spring. If you go in the summer, keep an eye out for snakes soaking up the sun on fallen trees at Rose River Falls.
6) McAfee Knob
Another spot that is pretty much a necessity on this list. Although it can also get crowded. I’ve hiked it a few times, most recently Oct 2021. Got there late afternoon, the parking lot was packed but luckily found a spot on a little road down the street.
The hike itself is about 3.5 miles out and back but I hiked about 1 mile past the knob itself to stay the night at Campbell Shelter. The next morning, woke up early and hiked to the knob for sunrise.
There’s a reason this rock outcropping has its own Virginia license plate. It is spectacular, especially when watching the sunrise!
7) Humpback Rocks
A short 1 mile, but really intense hike right on the Blue Ridge Parkway near the visitor’s center provides some amazing views. Humpback Rocks is perfect for watching a sunrise in the morning or doing a quick sunset hike before going elsewhere to camp for the night.
However, it’s also another busy hike. You won’t be the only person/party up on the rocks if you go during decent weather. But if you get there early enough, there’s plenty of parking. Get there after 10 am and you might have an issue parking.
But then you can just keep driving south on the parkway to hike Three Ridges. It’ll be a little bit longer for the views but it’s worth it. From the parking area at Reed’s Gap hop on the Appalachian Trail going South.
In about 2 miles, you’ll come to the Maupin Field Shelter, but you’ll want to stay left and the Appalachian Trail for about another half mile. You’ll then be treated to one of the best views of the Three Ridges. Here you can turn around and go back if you wanted to keep it a shorter hike. The full loop is 14 miles if you decide to keep going forward.
But I’ll leave that up to you.