Sometimes, we can be humble. Sometimes. But when it comes to ranking the best areas to visit in the fall, we’re confident that the Shenandoah Valley is at the top of the list. The millions of trees you see each try to outdo each other by turning vibrant shades of reds, oranges, yellows, and browns, all culminating in creating a truly incredible landscape of fall hues.
It may sound dramatic, but give it one hike in this area during the fall, and you’ll be writing poems about nature as well!
Fall is right around the corner, and Shenandoah is ready to put on a full display of autumnal magic. It’s the perfect time for outdoor adventures focusing on leaf peeping and appreciating the season’s turning.
So, let’s get out on the trail! We’ve picked out our favorite fall hikes in the Shenandoah Valley just for you. These trails are fantastic year round, but there’s something special about a fall nature adventure. So, get your hiking boots on, grab your camera, and let’s explore the best fall hikes in the Shenandoah area.
Top Fall Hikes in the Shenandoah Valley
Old Rag Mountain Trail
Distance: 9 miles
If you want a challenge with a rewarding view, Old Rag Mountain Trail is a great trail to experience. There are many fun rock features and crevasses to explore along the way, and scouring these boulder faces makes the hike more unique. Hold onto something when you see the views from the main overlook because you will be blown away. The expansive views you enjoy year-round are elevated to new heights with the vivid fall hues strewn across the rolling hills below.
This hike takes 7-8 hours to complete, so set aside the entire day to complete your journey on the Old Rag Mountain trail. Also, prepare beforehand Visitors by purchasing a day-use ticket and Park entrance pass before taking on Old Rag Mountain.
Dark Hollow Falls Trail
Distance: 1.4 miles
All the best hikes end with a waterfall! Dark Hollow Falls Trail is a great hike option for those who want to fit a shorter jaunt into a day full of fun. The Dark Hollow Falls trail is one of the most popular hikes in the area for great reason. You can expect to see fellow hikers, but you can also expect to see a very romantic, vividly-colored view of Dark Hollow Falls.
Remember that while this hike is short, it is also steep, rocky and potentially slippery – so wear appropriate shoes and keep an eye on kiddo hikers. This hike should only take about an hour and a half, so you will have time for more activities or views during the day if you plan this trip! Be sure to also check out out our other Hiking Dark Hollow Falls Trail tips.
Upper Hawksbill Trail
Distance: 2.1 miles
There’s something impressive about saying, “I hiked to Shenandoah’s tallest peak!” With the Upper Hawksbill Trail, you can. When you reach the top of this peak, you will have stunning views in every single direction. It follows a fairly consistent incline to the top, and there are no major rock scrambles to navigate, making it a good hike for active and adventurous families.
This hike is dog-friendly (as long as it’s on a leash 6 feet or shorter), so feel free to bring your furry friend along!
Bonus! Best Fall Activities in the Shenandoah Valley
Done with your hike, but ready for more fun? Hop on the Shenandoah River for a front-row view of more leaf peeping and autumnal appreciation. Fall Shenandoah River trips are underrated activities with several perks. You can enjoy less crowds, more colors and lovely crisp weather as you navigate the current! Check out our different Shenandoah rafting trips, Shenandoah River kayaking and canoeing trips options today.
Once you get in the area, you’ll regret only coming for a day. So, plan a fall overnight trip or weekend getaway! There’s no better way to escape than our memorable glamping tents or cabin rentals. Enjoy a remote, scenic weekend without sacrificing comforts like beds, picnic tables, and cute porches to bundle up on and enjoy your favorite warm fall drink. There’s no better way to enjoy the last moments of weather perfect for outdoor relaxation before the frost sets in. We also outlined our favorite fall drives in Virginia for you to check out!
With all the beauty a Virginia autumn provides, it’s hard to find a hike that isn’t stunning. But knowing where to go can help you get the most out of your autumn excursion. Want a little help planning your adventure? Front Royal Outdoors is your ticket to having a blast on the Shenandoah River this fall, and we can help with any of your Shenandoah River trip needs!