Calvary & Chimney Rocks Hike: Cool Rocks, Big Views at Shenandoah National Park

Living in Northern Virginia, it’s easier to tackle hikes in the North District and Central District of Shenandoah National Park. At least in one day, without an overnight stay.

I recently spent the night in Waynesboro, a mere stone’s throw from the Rockfish Gap entrance in the South District. I was eager to hike in this part of the park.

A half dozen hikes were on my list to complete over two days, including Turk Mountain, Blackrock Summit and this one, Calvary & Chimney Rocks.

I also planned for hikes just outside the park, including Natural Chimneys and Hidden Rocks. I was eager to step foot on as many hiking trails as I could.

Trail Stats 
Length3.2 miles
DifficultyModerate
Trail TypeOut-and-Back
Elevation Gain860 feet
Duration1.5-2.5 hours
TerrainMostly dirt & rock trails
Dog-FriendlyYes
Fee$30 per vehicle (good for seven days)
Driving DirectionsClick Here

Arriving at the Trailhead

Navigate to the Riprap Trail Parking Area at milepost 90 on Skyline Drive. The 3.2-mile Calvary & Chimney Rocks hike shares a trailhead with the Riprap Loop.

Riprap Trail Parking Area Sign

The Riprap Loop includes all of this hike, then continues past Chimney Rock to add in the Moormans River Overlook and Riprap Overlook in a 9.8-mile loop hike.

Begin the hike toward the back of this 10-car parking area. You’ll see the large trail kiosk that outlines the routes for each of the scenic hikes.

The First Steps

Walk past the trail kiosk, but you won’t get far before you reach a concrete trail marker. Make a right turn here to ascend the white-blazed Appalachian Trail.

From here it’s a slow climb until the .4-mile mark when you turn left onto the blue-blazed Riprap Trail. You’ll take this trail all the way to Chimney Rock.

At the .6-mile, you’ll find the perfect log to settle down onto for a snack with a northeast-facing view. It’s like an oasis after the ascent to reach the Riprap Trail.

You’ll pass through a talus slope (kind of like a rock slide) at the 1.1-mile mark. Look for lots and lots of rocks. Fortunately, there is a fairly clear path through the rocks.

Talus Slope-Riprap Trail

In another .1-mile mark you’ll reach several rocky outcrops with northwest-facing views of the valley and farms below. You have not reached Calvary Rocks. Soon.

At the 1.5-mile mark, you will arrive at Calvary Rocks. It’s like a mysterious wonderland of gigantic rocks. You can even scramble to the top for wide-open views.

Calvary Rocks

In a few more steps, at the 1.6-mile mark, you will reach Chimney Rock. These are very cool, flat top rocks. Choose one you like, then take a seat for the panoramas.

Once you’ve soaked in all the views, simply re-trace your steps to the parking area.

Wrap-Up Notes

From the parking area, this hike took me 80 minutes, including time spent ogling the views. I did not, however, scramble to the top of Calvary Rocks.

Turk Mountain Overlook

If you have time and energy after this hike, consider Turk Mountain (2.5 miles, milepost 93.5) or Blackrock Summit (1.8 miles, milepost 84.8).

Just 30 minutes away, Waynesboro is the closest town for post-hike eats and sips. A couple of faves include The Fishin’ Pig and The Tailgate Grill.