It can be hard to find some of the easy hikes in Shenandoah National Park. Most of the trails that I wanted to go on were moderate or marked easy but I still got out of breath.
So if you are on the hunt for the easiest hikes in Shenandoah then I hope you’ll love this list. You’ll find a few that lead to beautiful viewpoints, one waterfall hike, and a few that meander through the forest.
Looking for some tougher hikes in Shenandoah that lead to the best views? Check out the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park.
While you’re at it, I’ve also put together a guide to camping in Shenandoah National Park.
The Top Easy Hikes in Shenandoah National Park
This was probably one of the most surprising hikes of the trip. The trail is super short for a Shenandoah trail – only a 1-mile loop.
It is rated easy and there’s only 175ft of elevation gain. The estimated hiking time is 45 minutes though it took me about that long and I stopped for a snack plus went down another trail for photos.
The parking area is located at mile 84.4 on the southern end of the park. It’s a short walk from the parking lot on the Appalachian Trail until you reach the viewpoint.
All of a sudden you come up on a break in the trees and walk out onto a boulder field of black/gray rocks. The trail hugs the side of the mountain and the view seems to go on forever.
You follow the side of the mountain on the trail and return via one of the fire roads. If you want a short hike to stretch your legs, I highly recommend this one.
Fox Hollow Trail
Directly across Skyline Drive from Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, you’ll find the Fox Hollow trailhead.
At mile 4.6, it’s one of the very first trails you come to and the first Visitor Center on the northern end. You’ll park at the Visitor Center parking lot where you’ll also find restrooms (bonus!).
This easy 1.2-mile loop hike is a super kid friendly trail and part of the network of TRACK trails. TRACK trails are part of the Kids in Parks program aimed at getting more families outside.
So there are self-guided brochures and signs that turn this trail into a learning experience. You’ll find the remnants of Shenandoah inhabitants on this trail.
Rock walls, building foundations, a cemetery, and periwinkle planted by people who used to live here are a few of the things that you’ll find along the way.
The estimated hiking time for this trail is 45 minutes and there is only 310ft of elevation gain. Note that pets are not allowed.
Frazier Discovery Trail
You’ll find several beautiful overlooks on this trail around Loft Mountain. This one is a little bit tougher but the reward is worth it.
The loop is 1.2-miles long and there is 429ft of elevation gain. This trail is rated easy but it has a steep uphill section before you join the Appalachian Trail.
At mile 79.5 you’ll park at Loft Mountain Wayside right across from the campground. The trail begins across Skyline Drive where you’ll take a right onto the steep uphill slope.
Once you reach the AT you’ll turn left and walk on it for a short bit then turn left again to head back to the parking lot.
The estimated hiking time for this trail is an hour so perfect for a quick hike before you leave the southern end.
Some people love the Bearfence Mountain trail. I was not one of those people. Maybe if I had done the rock scramble it would be more fun.
This trail was relatively easy but it still got my heart rate up. When I came to the viewpoint though I was a little surprised. This was it?
It’s a beautiful view, but there is a very small rock that you can walk out on to enjoy the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
It’s big enough for 2 – 3 people to get out there so if other people are there you have to wait your turn. You can climb down to a large rock just below but I feel there are other, better trails.
There are two different ways to reach the viewpoint – one includes a rock scramble and one does not.
The rock scramble is 1.4-miles round trip and is considered moderate. The one without is 1.1-miles and considered easy. I was short on time so did the shorter trail.
Lands Run Falls
There really aren’t many easy waterfall hikes in Shenandoah National Park so here is a gem.
As usual for the waterfalls in Shenandoah, you’ll be going downhill on the way there and uphill on the way back.
The best time for this hike is in Spring or after it has rained. The small stream may be dry during other times.
At mile 9.2 there is a Lands Run parking area where you can follow the Lands Run Fire Road down to the falls.
You’ll reach the stream in just over 0.6-miles then turn right and in about 25ft you’ll find the falls. They go on for about 80ft into the gorge and are beautiful for such a short hike.
This is an out-and-back 1.3-mile round trip trail rated as easy. The elevation gain here is 325ft and estimated hiking time is 1.5 hours.
Limberlost is one of the only fully accessible trails in Shenandoah National Park. The entire 1.3-mile loop is paved and another trial in the TRACK program.
In addition to being accessible, this is another great kid-friendly trail in Shenandoah as well. The parking lot is relatively small so you may want to go early if you really want to do this one.
You’ll find the lot at mile 43 for this peaceful walk through the forest. The estimated hiking time is 1.5 hours and there is only 130ft of elevation gain.
Dogs are not allowed on this trail either. While there are no viewpoints on this hike, you’ll get to learn about the plants and animals in the surrounding forest.
This easy trail will take you around Mathews Arm Campground where you can get a glimpse of “traces” from former residents.
At mile 22.2 you’ll find the Mathews Arm Campground and the parking area is the same as the registration parking. The trail starts here and loops around for 1.7 miles.
There is only 333ft of elevation gain and the hike is estimated to take an hour and 15 minutes. There are a couple of steep sections so just be aware of that.
The trail is pretty rocky and a few people have reported it as overgrown so check with the rangers before starting out on this one.
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Story of the Forest
In the Big Meadows area you’ll find the Byrd Visitor Center at mile 51. The Story of the Forest trail starts here and makes a 1.8-mile loop.
The last 0.8 miles of this trail are paved and right along the road. Pets aren’t allowed on the trail.
There are pretty wildflowers here but no significant viewpoints.
With an estimated hiking time of an hour and a half and 290ft of elevation gain this is a pretty easy hike in Shenandoah.
Stony Man Trail – My Favorite Easy Shenandoah Hike
If you could only do one hike in Shenandoah, this is the one I would recommend. The trail through the woods is absolutely gorgeous and the view at the end is incredible.
This is a 1.6-mile round trip out-and-back hike with 340ft of elevation gain. Of course, it’s rated easy and the estimated hiking time is an hour. It took me 45 minutes including photo time.
The Stony Man parking lot is located at mile 41.7 in the Skyland Resort area. It’s a big parking lot as I’m sure this is a popular spot, especially on weekends.
Pets are not allowed here and parts of the trail are pretty rocky so I would recommend hiking boots. This is a must on your Shenandoah itinerary!
Fun Easy Hikes in Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is known for its challenging treks – Old Rag is exhibit number one. You don’t have to take a difficult trail for a great hike though.
The trails on this list are the easiest hikes in Shenandoah National Park and many of them will take you to a gorgeous view or waterfall.
A few just offer peaceful walks in the woods where you can stretch your legs after riding Skyline Drive for a while. After you’re finished on the trail, make sure you check out the breweries near Shenandoah National Park.
Headed out in the winter? Check out what to wear hiking in winter!