While scenic views abound across Shenandoah National Park, it’s hard to beat the two-for-one deal you get on this 3-mile out-and-back hike.
Get ready to be wowed by viewpoints at both Little Stony Man Cliffs and Stony Man Summit. The Shenandoah Valley views are also among the very best in the entire park.
Arriving at the Trailhead
Arrive early to get a space at the parking lot for the Little Stony Man Trailhead at milepost 39.1. There are maybe eight parking spots at this small lot on the west side of Skyline Drive.
You’ll see a large trail map highlighting a shorter and a longer hike option, then off you go up the steps along a short spur trail that connects with the Appalachian Trail.
The First Steps
In less than two-thirds mile, you’ll climb 190 feet to reach Little Stony Man Cliffs. It’s hard not to be awe-stricken by the sweeping views.
The rocky outcroppings are plentiful, so take a seat and savor the scenery. You’ll also find several shallow pools that fill with rainwater that are just right for a splash.
As you continue along, you’ll reach the intersection with the Passamaquoddy Trail, which descends into the valley. Stay to your left to keep on the Appalachian Trail.
You’ll be guided along a lush, forested trail. You may even be welcomed by tender yellow wildflowers in bloom that flank either side of this section of trail.
Just over one mile into the hike you will reach a four-way intersection. From here, turn right to navigate up the moderate incline.
The trail will fork once or twice, but both routes meander along to the rocky summit.
You will soon reach a navigational sign for the Stony Man Summit. From this point onward, dogs are strictly forbidden (as are horses).
You’re mere steps from the rocky outcropping that boasts breathtaking vistas. The rocks are not challenging to navigate, but you will want to watch your step and stay fleet of feet.
Re-trace your steps to the parking area. Once you reach the four-way intersection, turn left to remain on the Appalachian Trail and navigate back to the parking area.
Keep your eyes open. You may see a gentle fawn nestled into tall grass or a scampering baby black bear like my kids and I did when we hiked this trail.
For a 4-mile hike, take the Passamaquoddy Trail just past Little Stony Man Cliffs. You’ll descend into the valley before connecting with the Furnace Spring Trail.
Turn left onto the AT, then turn left at the four-way intersection to ascend Stony Man. From here, return to the four-way stop, then turn left for the parking area.
For a shorter hike, walk .65-mile to Little Stony Man Cliffs for a snack and water break before turning around to return to the parking lot.
After the Hike
Drive south along Skyline Drive until you reach the exit for Skyland Resort just past milepost 41. Enjoy sit-down dining in the Pollock Dining Room (their Sunday Brunch is delicious).
In the lobby, you’ll also find convenience-style dining with grab-and-go sandwiches, snacks and drinks.