Before it gets too cold, before the snow falls and we are stuck inside all winter, get outside and check out some of this region’s amazing hiking trails! If you are trying to plan a hike with your friends and are looking for something that will challenge you, we have a few suggestions! Here are some challenging fall hikes that will offer you different levels of difficulty and expertise.
Up for a challenge? Grab your most physically fit friend and head to Old Rag Mountain in the Shenandoah National Park. The hike is 9.1 miles total, and although not every step is treacherous, there are rock scrambles that will require strength and skill. Keep in mind you will be crawling under rocks and maneuvering through narrow spaces. While this requires a level of skill and attentiveness, it can be an exciting adventure if done carefully! You will ultimately be rewarded with spectacular views and the freshest of air.
Catoctin Mountain Park offers a tough, yet worthwhile, 8.5-mile trail loop full of stops and lookouts along the way. The trail is in Maryland and there are six different scenic lookouts that you can check out. Cunningham Falls, Hog Rock Vista, Blue Ridge Summit Vista, Thurmont Vista, Wolf Rock, and Chimney Rock are all of the places you can stop, enjoy the view, and eat a snack. There are no intense rock scrambles, but there are steep hills to climb, and the eight miles will occupy most of your day. Come prepared with water, good hiking shoes, and make sure you’ve had a good night’s sleep the night before! This hike will be tough, but you’re sure to have a wonderful time.
If you’re not all that experienced, but you still want a bit of an exercise, go to Dark Hollow Falls in the Shenandoah National Park. You guessed it – this trail leads you down to the bottom of a gorgeous waterfall. Round trip, it measures out to be 1.4 miles. Remember that while the trek down to the bottom may be fairly easy, you still have to go back up. The hike back to the top will definitely get your blood pumping, so consider refueling with water and snacks at the bottom. The trail is very well marked and therefore makes it easy to navigate – perfect for those in-betweeners who aren’t ready to be their own GPS quite yet. The trailhead is right on Skyline Drive.
When trying to challenge yourself and burn some calories with your friends, you are surrounded by hikes in this region of all levels and intensities!