Hiking in Virginia

Hawskbill Mountain top on Blue Ridge Parkway at sunsetVirginia is one of the most scenic and diverse states in the country, perfect for hikers who are looking for all kinds of terrain. The Appalachian Trail, the country's first designated scenic trail (and the longest) runs through the state via the Highlands of the Blue Ridge Mountains (picture right), some of the most beautiful mountains in the country.


Difficulty: Easy

Features of Virginia Hikes

Step 1
Other areas of interest in Virginia are the Appalachian region, tucked in the southwest corner just above North Carolina; the Chesapeake Bay, a scenic and historic area filled with landmarks, museums and recreational opportunities; the Eastern Shore islands and bays, just above the Hampton area on the coast; the famous Shenandoah Valley, much of which is under state park protection; and many more in the central and northern parts of the state. The state is filled with hardwood forests, ridges, mountains, valleys and farmland, as well as a spectacular coastal area. Leaf season in the Appalachian region is best in mid-October, and spring comes in late April and early May.

Types of Trails

Step 1
There are an abundance of hikes and trails in each distinct area, but for newcomers, there are a few you won't want to miss. Cold Mountain, the scene of a beautiful novel by Charles Frazier, can take you to some of the most incredible views you've ever seen; Dragon's Tooth, a short and intensely uphill hike, is one of the most distinctive rock formations in the Southeast; and Prince William Forest is a great hike for beginners and those looking for a simple day trip, especially with kids.
Step 2
You won't run out of places to go, and it should be easy to get there. Virginia has an incredibly active, state-run Department of Conservation and Recreation, providing comprehensive guides and maps as well as maintaining camping, hiking, fishing and hunting activities. Much of Virginia's total land is covered with state and national forests, and the Appalachian Trail maintains a protected corridor around its trail through the state. All of these organizations have cabins available on trails, as well as tent sites, if you want to make your trip into a weekend; in addition, most trails are marked and cleared regularly, especially in the state parks of Shenandoah and George Washington.

Article Written By Emily Elder

Emily works as a Greenway coordinator and parks project manager in her local community, and has been hiking, camping, fishing and riding all over the mountains of western North Carolina. She enjoys being outside with her family, especially her two children, Creedence and Mason, and her husband, James, and lives on a small farm surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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