There are two Turk Mountain hikes at Shenandoah National Park. Honestly, it kind of confuses me, too. To be clear, however, this post is on the far less challenging one.
One hike (not this one) is more than 10 miles and begins at the Jarman Gap parking area near milepost 97. This hike starts at the Turk Gap parking area at milepost 93.5.
I’ll probably do the harder of the two at some point, but for now, I’m excited to share with you the 2.5-mile out-and-back hike to Turk Mountain (2,981 feet).
This hike wows with rock scrambles, sweeping views and forested trails. It’s also not especially steep for a summit hike and the payoff views are not far along the trail.
|Elevation Gain||699 feet|
|Terrain||Mostly dirt trails, some rock scramble|
|Fee||$30 per vehicle (good for seven days)|
|Driving Directions||Click Here|
Arriving at the Trailhead
Plan to park at the Turk Gap parking area at milepost 93.5. Here you’ll find legal spaces for maybe 12 vehicles.
There is a trail marker just off the parking area, but this is not for this hike. Instead, this leads to the Turk Branch Trail. This hike is almost entirely on the Turk Mountain Trail.
To start off on the proper trailhead, cross over Skyline Drive from the parking area. You’ll quickly see a trail marker (and maybe a friendly deer).
The First Steps
As you stand at the trail marker, you’ll notice that you can go in two directions. Opt for the left-most trail, which takes you on a short section of southbound Appalachian Trail.
At the .2-mile mark, you’ll reach a fork in the trail. This time, stay right to connect with the blue-blazed Turk Mountain Trail to the rocky overlook.
If you listen closely, you may hear a train whistle off in the distance. The Amtrak train choo-choos right through nearby Staunton in the Shenandoah Valley.
While this hiking trail is mostly dirt, the terrain does get more rocky just past the .8-mile mark. From here, it’s a flat section, then a section of rocks. Repeat, repeat.
If you manage this hike in late-fall or winter, you can enjoy big views of nearby mountains through the trees on the left and right with every step you take.
At the 1.0-mile mark, you’ll see a talus slope to the right. This basically looks like a rock slide. Thankfully, a cleared-away trail allows you to easily pass through.
You’ll reach a double blue-blaze at the 1.1-mile mark. Here, you can either turn right to continue on to the summit or you can stay left for an open rocky area for views.
Scramble up a small hill, then turn right to stay on the trail. In a few more steps, you’ll see a short spur trail (like 7 or 8 steps) to a small outcrop for endless views.
At the 1.2-mile mark, a concrete trail marker lets you know that you have arrived. There are plenty of large rocks so there’s no need to settle on the first ones you see.
Scramble out to the most distant rocks for wide-open northwest-facing views. This is a great spot to re-hydrate and re-fuel while taking in all the mountain views.
This hike took me just over an hour to complete, including time spent savoring the views from the Turk Mountain overlook.
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.