How to Spend the Day at Natural Bridge State Park

In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Natural Bridge State Park wows with four hiking trails, and of course, the awe-inspiring 215-foot-tall natural limestone arch. 

The Natural Bridge was once owned by Thomas Jefferson and wows once it comes into view. Since 1997, it has been on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Cascade Creek

This natural arch is the main attraction, but many also visit this 188-acre state park to walk the Cedar Creek Trail, which takes visitors under Natural Bridge. 

Cedar Creek Trail 

A 1.6-mile out-and-back hike on the Cedar Creek Trail also leads visitors to Lace Falls and a re-created Monacan Indian Village. 

While the Cedar Creek Trail is relatively flat, you must walk down 137 steps to reach the start of this paved trail (and of course, walk back up 137 steps).

As you descend the stairs, take in the wooded landscape and enjoy the sounds of babbling brooks and tumbling falls that filter into Cascade Creek.

A few steps along the Cedar Creek Trail you’ll see Natural Bridge. As you stroll under the bridge, look up and to the left to see George Washington’s initials.

He carved them on the bridge in 1750. Thankfully, a white outline around the initials makes them much easier to see.

Monacan Indian Village 

As you continue hiking, stop at the re-created Monacan Indian Village. This living history exhibit is open from April to November between 10:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Kids will enjoy exploring wigwams and trading posts, as well as craft demonstrations, such as hide tanning and basket weaving.

Monacan Indian Village

The Monacan Indian Village marks the trail’s half-way point and the end of the accessible portion of the trail.

Continue to Saltpeter Cave (where potassium nitrate was exhumed to make saltpeter for gun powder) and Lost River, an unusual body of flowing water.

Lace Falls 

The Cedar Creek Trail terminates at Lace Falls, a 30-foot cascading waterfall in Virginia that’s well worth the walk for the views, even on a rainy day.

Lace Falls
Lace Falls

Three other trails at Natural Bridge State Park are a short drive from the Visitors Center. All three are loop trails and have dedicated parking lots ($5/car).

The Blue Ridge Trail runs 3.3 miles, while the Buck Hill Trail is a 1.8-mile trail with easy access to Natural Bridge Caverns.

The 0.6-mile Skyline Trail leads to Jefferson Point. There is also a Children’s Discovery Area and an area of picnic tables near this hiking trail. 

There is no public campground at Natural Bridge State Park, but a couple of privately-owned campgrounds are a short drive.

The entrance fee to walk the Cedar Creek Trail to the iconic arch at Natural Bridge State Park is $9 per adult (ages 13 and up) and $6 per child (ages 6-12). 

Eager to step foot on more scenic hiking trails near Natural Bridge State Park? Check out my favorite hikes near Lexington, Virginia.