11 Hikes in Virginia When You Just Want to Rock
I wanna rock… No, I’m not talking about one of the most popular songs from ’80s metal hair band, Twisted Sister. I’m talking about actual rocks. Like Mary’s Rock.
There are lots of hikes across Virginia that are known for and named for rocks. Mary’s Rock, of course, is a favorite at Shenandoah National Park.
Rock hikes wow with scrambles, outcrops, ridgelines and far-reaching views when you reach the high points to reward you richly for your efforts.
From Buzzard Rock in Front Royal to White Rocks in Ewing, here are 11 fantastic hikes in Virginia when you just want to, well, rock. Enjoy.
#1: Raven Rocks (Bluemont)
A rocky climb with an elevation gain of more than 1,500 feet leads to Raven Rocks with sweeping valley and mountain views across Loudoun County.
This hike follows a meandering, rock-laden section of Appalachian Trail. Keep your eyes open. You may spy a thru-hiker depending on the time of year you hike the trail.
This section of iconic white-blazed trail is fondly referred to as the “Roller Coaster.” It’s not hard to figure out why as you go up and down the trail on your way to Raven Rocks.
#2: Flag Rock (Norton)
In search of the Woodbooger? Of course, right. A 2.9-mile out-and-back hike to Flag Rock Overlook leads you to this Bigfoot-like creature that lurks high above Norton.
Said to roam the wooded forests of Southwest Virginia, the Woodbooger is apparently partial to Norton’s Flag Rock Recreation Area. His statue is steps from the overlook.
The west-facing views from Flag Rock Overlook are fantastic, making this rock an especially popular spot for watching colorful sunsets. With the Woodbooger, of course.
#3: Calvary & Chimney Rocks (Grottoes)
This 3.2-mile out-and-back hike in Shenandoah National Park’s South District is a two-fer when it comes to rocks, exposing hikers to both Calvary and Chimney Rocks.
Actually, it’s kind of a three-fer given all the mid-size and large rocks you’ll see as you pass through a talus slope at the mid-way point on this hike.
Calvary Rocks is like a mysterious wonderland of gigantic rocks you can scramble for wide-open views, while Chimney Rock is a scenic overlook teeming with flat top rocks.
#4: Buzzard Rock (Front Royal)
The 6.2-mile out-and-back hike on the Buzzard Rock Trail in the George Washington National Forest is a stunning hike with rock scrambles and ridgeline views.
There are lots of rocky outcrops with far-reaching vistas, as well as stone fire pits and cleared tent camping areas alongside the trail.
For a shorter hike, take the Buzzard Rock Trail to the first overlook for scenic views across the valley. This out-and-back hike clocks in at just 2.9-miles.
#5: High Rocks (Wytheville)
For far-reaching views of downtown Wytheville, make a beeline for High Rocks. Interestingly, there are two different hiking trails that guide you to the rocky summit.
You can go short and sweet (though rocky and steep) by way of the 2.9-mile out-and-back hike on the High Rocks Trail. This one gets you to the top in a flash.
Or, hike to High Rocks from Crystal Springs Recreation Area by way of a 9.2-mile out-and-back hike on the High Rocks Spur Trail. Either way, you’ll be wowed by the views.
#6: Eagle Rock (Star Tannery)
It’s a fairly easy 2.0-mile out-and-back hike along a northbound section of the Tuscarora Trail to gram-worthy views from atop Eagle Rock in Frederick County.
A comfy bench from Capon Springs & Farms at the second or third rocky outcrop allows you to settle in for south-facing views. But, how did they get that bench there?
Honestly, the best views are from the bench on Eagle Rock, so head for this spot when you arrive (assuming it’s unoccupied, of course).
#7: Hidden Rocks (Dayton)
Situated in the Hone Quarry Recreation Area of George Washington National Forest, the 2.7-mile out-and-back hike to Hidden Rocks wows with more than large rocks.
Along the way, plan to navigate water crossings, rhododendron thickets and small, refreshing waterfalls that pop up here and there along the Hidden Rocks Trail.
Northwest-facing views from the top of Hidden Rocks are just right for a deliciously colorful sunset. You’ll find a fire pit and primitive camp site atop Hidden Rocks, too.
#8: Mary’s Rock (Sperryville)
Whether you approach Mary’s Rock from the northbound or southbound trail, get ready to be bowled over by the spectacular views across the Shenandoah Valley.
Hiking north, park at the Meadow Spring parking area at milepost 33.5. The leafy trail wows with the remains of an old stone chimney and a glistening stream.
Both routes to the top of this massive (and massively popular) rock are less than 3.5 miles. At the top, stay awhile to savor the outstanding panoramas across the valley.
#9: Humpback Rocks (Nellysford)
Whether you take on Humpback Rocks as a 4.3-mile loop or a 2.0-mile out-and-back hike, you’re guaranteed to be stunned by 360-degree views from atop these rocks.
The ascent is not for the faint of heart, but thankfully a handful of benches and a wooden staircase ease the trek to the very top where vistas are plentiful.
On the way down, opt for the loop and follow along a leafy stretch of white-blazed Appalachian Trail to make your return to the Humpback Gap Overlook parking area.
#10: Crescent Rock (Syria)
The 3.3-mile out-and-back Crescent Rock hike at Shenandoah National Park is an easy one, leading hikers to sweeping views of Massanutten Mountain and the Ida Valley.
At the overlook, a placard relays the history of families that remained on the land after the national park was officially established in late-1935.
Interestingly, the Crescent Rock Overlook can be reached on foot by way of this hike or by car. Simply park in the sizeable parking lot at milepost 44.
#11: White Rocks (Ewing)
This 8.1-mile hike in Southwest Virginia may be better known for Sand Cave, but White Rocks Overlook is spectacularly beautiful in its own right.
The final steps to the overlook are very steep, but when the foliage opens up you’ll be wowed by wide-open south-facing mountain views. It’s every bit worth the climb.
The overlook is scenic, but what’s more notable is the historical significance of White Rocks. These rocks guided early settlers on their way west through Cumberland Gap.
Erin Gifford is the editor of Go Hike Virginia. She has completed more than 300 hikes in Virginia. She is also the author of three hiking guidebooks from Falcon Guides. Need help finding a hike? Check out the Trail Finder feature or send Erin a message.