15 Best Short Hikes in Shenandoah National Park

When you’ve got your sights set on short hiking trails and big views, allow me to share with you the best short hikes in Shenandoah National Park.

These hikes are all less than two miles round trip, and all are wildly worthwhile, wowing with scenic views, tumbling falls and rock scrambles.

Blackrock Summit

Short Hikes in Shenandoah National Park

You’ll find these short hikes all along Skyline Drive, in all three districts of the national park. For you, here are 15 short hikes in Shenandoah National Park.

To make it easy for you, I’ve ordered these short hikes as they come on Skyline Drive, from north to south across the length of the national park.

#1: Fox Hollow Trail (milepost 4.6)

Fox Hollow Trail Marker at Shenandoah National Park

This Fox Hollow Trail is a short and simple 1.2-mile loop hike that starts across Skyline Drive from the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center in Front Royal, Virginia.

Stroll across land once owned by the Fox family before the park was created in 1935. This hard-working family cleared stones along the hiking trail to farm.

The Fox family cemetery is one of more than 100 at the park. Inspect a few headstones to consider what daily life was like in the park’s ridges and hollows.

#2: Lands Run Falls (milepost 9.2) 

Lands Run Falls

It’s an easy 1.3-mile out-and-back hike to Lands Run Falls via the Lands Run Fire Road. Unfortunately, there is no safe and easy way to see the falls.

You could miss Lands Run Falls if you walk too quickly along the fire road. Once you reach trickling Lands Run, cross a bridge and you have arrived.

Lands Run Falls is on your right. Walk down a fairly steep hill to see the falls. This is the closest waterfall to the park’s north entrance in Front Royal. 

#3: Fort Windham Rocks (milepost 10.4)

Fort Windham Rocks

A short hike to Fort Windham Rocks starts at the Compton Gap parking area. It’s .8 miles and can be done alone or in addition to the Compton Peak hike.

This hike leads to the geologically curious Fort Windham Rocks. Essentially, you’ll find two huge split boulders that have mysteriously risen from the earth.

Start on the northbound Appalachian Trail. Then, turn left on the blue-blazed Dickey Ridge Trail. From here, you’re mere steps from the super-size rocks.

#4: Range View Cabin (milepost 22) 

Range View Cabin at Shenandoah National Park

This short 1.6-mile round trip hike leads to Range View Cabin, one of six Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) cabins at Shenandoah National Park.

Range View Cabin was built almost entirely by PATC volunteers in 1932. For the stonework, the club used the services of local stonemason, Charlie Sisk.

You can only enter the primitive cabin if you rent it for the night, but it’s fun to explore the grounds. This hike shares a trailhead with the Sugarloaf Loop. 

#5: Pass Mountain (milepost 28.5) 

Pass Mountain Overlook at Shenandoah National Park

This short Pass Mountain hike at Shenandoah National Park is just 1.5-miles round trip and guides hikers along the Appalachian Trail.

There’s a moderate elevation gain on this section of trail. A short spur trail at the .7-mile mark is easy to walk by without much notice.

This short trail leads to a rocky overlook with views across the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is the highlight of one of the top short hikes on Skyline Drive.

#6: Little Stony Man Cliffs (milepost 39.1)

Little Stony Man Cliffs

From the parking area, you’ll climb 300 feet in .5-miles to reach Little Stony Man Cliffs. Get ready to be awe-struck by the dramatic views.

The rocky outcrops are plentiful, so take a seat and savor the scenery. Several shallow pools fill with rainwater and are just right for a splash.

If you want more steps, continue on to Stony Man. If not, return to the parking area to complete this 1.0-mile round trip hike.

#7: Millers Head Trail (milepost 42.5)

Millers Head Trail at Shenandoah National Park

The 1.5-mile out-and-back hike on the Millers Head Trail at Skyland delivers hikers to a former stone fire tower that dates all the way to the 1940s.

At that time, seven fire towers were in use at Shenandoah National Park, keeping watch around the clock for signs of forest fires.

At the .2-mile mark, a short spur trail leads to Bushy Top Observation Point for scenic views of Massanutten Mountain and working farms in the valley.

#8: Limberlost Trail (milepost 43)

Limberlost Trail

The fully-accessible Limberlost Trail is one of the most popular short hikes in the park. With the exception of service animals, this trail does not allow pets.

The 1.3-mile loop on a crushed greenstone path is stroller-friendly and wheelchair-accessible. There are more than 15 wooden benches on the Limberlost Trail.

You’ll cross over several bridges and boardwalk sections. For more steps, tack on the side trail to the scenic Crescent Rock overlook.

#9: Hawksbill Summit (mileposts 45.5)

Hawksbill Summit

There are several ways to reach Hawksbill Summit, the national park’s highest point at an elevation of 4,051 feet.

Specifically there are three ways to the top, including a 1.6-mile out-and-back hike by way of the Lower Hawksbill Trail.  This starts at the Hawksbill Gap parking area.

As you make your way to the summit, you’ll see a picnic shelter, followed by an observation platform to take in the far-reaching mountain views.

#10: Dark Hollow Falls (milepost 50.7)

Dark Hollow Falls at Shenandoah National Park

The 1.4-mile out-and-back hike to 70-foot-tall Dark Hollow Falls is one of the park’s most popular waterfall hikes. It can also get rather crowded.

The trail starts as paved, but soon turns to a steep, rocky trail as you become enveloped by the forest. You’ll walk alongside water all the way to the falls.

The elevation gain for this short hike on the Dark Hollow Falls Trail is 400+ feet, but it’s worth the burn for the views of the tumbling falls.

#11: Bearfence Rock Scramble (milepost 56.4)

Bearfence Mountain Rock Scramble

On a clear day, the mountains go on forever from the summit of Bearfence Mountain. It’s no surprise that this hike is on the bucket list of many hikers.

The far-reaching 360-degree payoff views after a short hike of less than .45-mile (one-way) are tremendous, but you will need to work for your reward.

The short distance of this rocky hike can be deceptive. You’ll use your hands, feet, arms and knees to reach the top. It’s well worth every ounce of effort.

#12: Bearfence Viewpoint Hike (milepost 56.4)

Bearfence Viewpoint Hike

For those unsure about the rock scramble to the top of Bearfence Mountain, there is an alternate hike that leads to an overlook for 180-degree views.

The Bearfence Viewpoint Hike clocks in at .95-mile and bypasses the rock scramble. Several large rocks at the viewpoint are ideal for soaking in views.

This hike shares a trailhead with the rock scramble hike. It’s also a great option when hiking with small children.

#13: Frazier Discovery Trail (milepost 79.5)

Loft Mountain

The 1.2-mile Frazier Discovery Trail begins across Skyline Drive from the Loft Mountain Wayside, which sells supplies and sundries in-season.

At the .1-mile mark, stay right to pick up the Frazier Discovery Trail for a counter-clockwise loop that includes rock scrambles, creek crossings and scenic vistas.

If you were to stay left, you could hike the 2.1-mile Loft Mountain Loop, which includes steps on the Appalachian Trail and Blue Spring Trail.

#14: Blackrock Summit (milepost 84.4)

Blackrock Summit

The short hike to Blackrock Summit is one to love. This hike awes with a gigantic field of black rocks. It’s also one of the best short hikes on Skyline Drive.

Panoramic views across the Shenandoah Valley make this 1.8-mile round trip hike wildly compelling. You’ll definitely want to sit and stay awhile for the views.

A spur trail through a field of boulders leads to the Trayfoot Mountain Trail. The vistas, which now include Trayfoot Mountain, are even more spectacular.

#15: Little Calf Mountain (milepost 99.5)

Little Calf Mountain

The out-and-back hike to the top of Little Calf Mountain is short and sweet. It’s 1.7-miles and is a perfect hike to end the day if you want one more hike.

This hike is near the Rockfish Gap entrance in the park’s South District, so it’s an easy one to tackle if you’re spending time in Waynesboro.

The summit of Little Calf Mountain is more a grassy meadow than a rocky outcrop. Still, the scenic views are rewarding, especially at the end of the day.