21 Easy Hikes in Shenandoah National Park: Best Kid Friendly Trails

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Best Hikes in Shenandoah for Kids

Below you’ll find some of the best hikes in Shenandoah National Park, not only for families, but also for those who like to tackle less strenuous hikes. 

Shenandoah National Park is a great national park for families, as there are a variety of easy and scenic hikes to do.  Its easily accessible (as far as national parks go), and there are tons of kid friendly trails in Shenandoah National Park.  I’ve been to Shenandoah National Park and hiked many of these trails with my son.  Below you’ll find an overview of the best hiking trails in Shenandoah for kids. I’ve tried to include a variety of lengths, and difficultly level, so that all families should be able to find a suitable hike.  If you are looking for a comprehensive guide to Shenandoah National Park with kids, then check out our guide here. 

The National Park Service rates hikes based on hiking difficulty.  All of the hikes I’ve included are either categorized as easy or moderate. Easy trails are generally good for walking, may have a slight incline, and are generally less than 3 miles.  Moderate hikes are suitable for novice hikers, may have a moderate incline or steeper sections, and are generally 3-5 miles.

Round Trip Hikes: Where I have noted a hike is round trip that generally means that it is an ‘out and back’ hike.

Circuit Hikes: These hikes involve circle or interconnected trails, which means you may end up in a different location than when you started.

ADA Hikes: Any hike that is ADA approved means that it is paved, and can accommodate wheelchairs or strollers.

Track Trails for Kids: Track Trails for Kids is a program done by ‘Kids in Parks’ and it’s a way to engage children with nature.  They provide self-guided brochures, and kids can ‘track’ their hikes in order to win prizes.

The trails are listed below from North to South, and their location along Skyline Dr. is also noted.

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains, from Skyline Dr., Shenandoah, National Park

1. Fox Hollow Loop:

  • Located at Mile 4.6 of Skyline Dr.
  • Easy, 1.2-mile circuit hike.
  • Hiking time: 45 minutes.
  • Dickey Ridge Visitor’s Center Area Map.
  • Track Trails for Kids available.

This trail is categorized as one of the ‘easiest’ hikes in the park. The trail runs through the forest, and through an area formerly inhabited by homesteaders, ane passes by a cemetery.  A self-guided hiking booklet is available.

2. Fort Windham Rocks:

  • Located at Mile 10.4 of Skyline Dr.
  • Easy, .8 mile round trip hike.
  • Hiking Time: 30 minutes.
  • Compton Gap Area Map.

Fort Wind Rocks is a short hike that runs along the Appalachian Trail!  The trail leads to a geologic structure rising 50 feet above the ground.

3. Traces Trail

  • Located at Mile 22.2 of Skyline Dr.
  • Easy to moderate, 1.7-mile circuit hike.
  • Hiking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes.
  • Matthews Arm Area Map.

Traces Trail runs around the Mathews Arm Campground and is named ‘Traces’ because it passes by ‘traces’ of a former mountain settlement.  Through this hike you will encounter elements of natural and cultural history, along with interesting geological sights.

Central District: Family Friendly Hiking Trails in Shenandoah National Park: Central District

4. Little Stony Man Trail-

  • Located at Mile 35.9 of Skyline Dr., Skyland.
  • Easy, 0.9 miles-out and back.
  • Hiking Time: 45 minutes.
  • Skyland Area Map.
  • Runs along the Appalachian Trail.

Panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lots of wildflowers, and a good springtime hike. The intrepid can continue to Stony Man-which is a bit more strenuous.

View from Little Stony Man Cliffs, along the Appalachian Trail

5. Stony Man Trail

  • Located at mile 41.7 of Skyline Dr., Skyland north.
  • Fairly easy, 1.6 mile round trip hike.
  • Hiking Time: 1 hour
  • Skyland Area Map.
  • Runs along the Appalachian Trail.

The end of this hike yields views of the Shenandoah Valley.   Along this hike you’ll find steep sections, and beautiful viewpoints.  This hike is doable with small children; however, its advisable to wear them.

6. Miller’s Head

  • Located at Mile 42.5 of Skyline Dr., Skyland south.
  • Easy-fairly easy, 1.6 mile round trip hike.
  • Hiking Time: 2 hours.
  • Skyland Area Map.

This is an easier hike, with steep sections, leading to a nice viewpoint. 

7. Limberlost Trail

  • Located at Mile 43 of Skyline Dr.
  • Easy, 1.3 mile circuit hike.
  • Hiking Time: 1hr 30 minutes.
  • Skyland Area Map.
  • ADA accessible: which means its paved and suitable for strollers.
  • Track Trails for Kids available.

This trail is paved and suitable for strollers.  The trail meanders through the forest with various mountain topographies. This a great beginner ‘hike.’

8. Upper Hawksbill to Hawksbill Summit

  • Located at Mile Mile 46.5 of Skyline Dr.
  • Easy-moderate, 2.1 mile round trip hike.
  • Hiking Time: 1hr 30 minutes.
  • Hawksbill Area Map.

This hike leads to Hawksbill summit, which is Shenandoah’s highest peak.  The vista offers 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley.

9. Rose River Falls

  • Located at Mile 49.4 of Skyline Dr.
  • Moderate, 2.6 miles round-trip, climb of 720 feet; Hike out and back to the falls, not the loop (loop is 4 miles).
  • Hiking Time: 2hrs
  • Big Meadows Area Map.

This hike is a bit more strenuous than some of the other hikes on the list; however, the end of the hike is a 67’ beautiful waterfall.  Another cool thing about this trail is that most of it runs through ‘designated wilderness’ areas, which means less people and more nature!

10. Dark Hollow Falls

  • Located at Mile 50.7 of Skyline Dr.
  • Moderate, with steep sections, 1.4 mile circuit hike.
  • Hiking Time: 1hr 15 minutes.
  • Big Meadows Area Map.

Extremely popular hike along a short trail, leading to a beautiful waterfall.  Although this is a short hike, it is also steep and rocky.  Take care on the return hike.

11. Story of the Forest Trail

  • Located at Mile 51 of Skyline Dr.
  • Easy, 1.8 mile round trip hike.
  • Hiking Time: 1hr 30 minutes
  • Big Meadows Area Map.
  • Self-guided nature trail.

Story of the Forest is great for families and children.  The trail meanders through the forest and is an easy stroll.  It leaves from Byrd Visitor’s Center which has amenities like diaper changing stations.  This is a great beginner trail for families!

12. Blackrock Viewpoint

  • Located at Mile 51.2 of Skyline Dr.
  • Easy, .4 mile out and back.
  • Hiking Time: 30 minutes
  • Big Meadows Area Map (off of Big Meadows Lodge).
  • Track Trail for Kids available.

This is an easy out and back hike leading to a nice viewpoint. This is a great intro hike, and a good one on which to let your kids stretch their legs.

Sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains from Blackrock Summit, Shenandoah National Park

13. Lewis Falls Trail-Short

  • Located at Mile 51.2 of Skyline Dr.
  • Moderate, steep sections, 2 miles (there is also a longer circuit hike that is 3.3 miles)
  • Hiking Time: 2hrs.
  • Big Meadows Area Map.

This is a moderately easy hike, with steep sections; however, if you do this hike you will not be disappointed! The hike least to an observation platform overlooking an 81-foot waterfall.

14. Bearfence Viewpoint

  • Located at Mile 56.4 of Skyline Dr.
  • Easy, 1.1 mile round trip hike.
  • Hiking Time: 45 minutes.
  • Bearfence Area Map.

This trail runs along the Appalachian trail, and is a way to get to Bearfence Viewpoint without having to do the Bearfence Rock Scramble.  You’ll be rewarded with 360 degree views of the Shenandoah Valley.

View from Bearfence Mountain summit

Southern District: Family Friendly Hiking Trails in Shenandoah National Park

15. Jones River Falls:

  • Located at Mile 84.1 of Skyline Dr.
  • Moderate, 3.2 mile round trip hike.
  • Hiking Time: 2hrs 30 minutes.
  • Loft Mountain Area Map

Jones Run Falls trail includes a steady incline and one stream crossing.  This trail brings you to the 42 foot Jones Run Waterfall.

Jones Run Falls, Shenandoah National Park

16. Blackrock Summit:

  • Located at Mile 84.4 of Skyline Dr.
  • Easy, .08 or 1 mile circuit hike.
  • Hiking Time: 45 minutes.
  • Loft Mountain Area Map.
  • Track Trail for Kids

Blackrock Summit Trail runs through various mountain topographies, and leads to a stunning viewpoint.  Views include the Shenandoah Valley, Massanutten Mountain, all atop of a large rock pile.

Honorable Mentions

The next five hikes were recommended by other travel writers, so I thought I’d include them for folks looking for amore options in the southern portion of Shenandoah.  The Northern section of Shenandoah sees most of the action; however, there are some great family friendly hiking trails in the Southern section as well! 

17. Boundary to Lower Falls Hike

  • You will access this trail head from the White Oak Canyon Lower Parking Lot, from the east side of the park (not from Skyline Dr.).
  • Easy, 2 mile round trip hike.
  • Hiking Time: 1hr 30 minutes.
  • White Oak Canyon Area Map.
  • Lower falls of Whiteoak Canyon, with beautiful cascades.

18. South River Falls Trail & South River Fire Road Loop

  • Mile 62.7
  • You have two options here-a circuit hike, or an out and back:
  • South River Falls Observation Point (out and back):
    • Moderate, 2.6 mile round trip hike.
    • Hiking Time: 1hr 15 minutes
  • South River Falls via Fire Road Loop:
    • Moderate, 3.3 mile circuit hike.
    • Hiking Time: 2rf 15 minutes
  • South River Area Map

19. Frazier Discovery Trail Hike

  • Mile 79.5
  • Easy, 1.2 mile circuit hike.
  • Hiking Time: 1 hour
  • Loft Mountain Area
  • Hike through woodlands, with picturesque overlooks.

20. Doyles River Falls Trail

  • Mile 81.1
  • Moderate, 3.3 mile round trip hike.
  • Hiking Time: 2hr 15 minutes
  • Loft Mountain Area Map
  • Two unique waterfalls. Stream crossing.

21. Turk Mountain Hike

  • Mile 94.1
  • Easy, 2.2 mile round trip hike.
  • Hiking Time: 2hr 15 minutes.
  • Riprap Area Map.
  • Hike to the summit of Turk Mountain, with panoramic views of the West.

Takeaway

Shenandoah National Park offers hikes and panoramas for all families. No matter what section of the park you find yourself in, no matter your fitness level, or time constraints-you will be able to find a hike that fits your family’s interests and capabilities. 

Leave a message below with your favorite hike and let me know if I’ve left one off!

Helpful Links:

Map of Shenandoah National Park

North to South Maps:

Track Trails for Kids

https://www.kidsinparks.com/find-an-adventure/map?keys=shenandoah

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