This time of year is an ideal time for hiking – the leaves are starting to fall, which means the view from the top of your hike will be breathtaking, it’s cool enough that you can hike in the heat of the day without getting worn out, and with many people back at work or school, the trails aren’t as crowded as they are in the summertime. We understand that sometimes you don’t always want to do an eight-mile hike through treacherous terrain, or that sometimes you want to take your dogs with you. To make things a bit easier, we have figured out which trails would be best for families and pets!
For a relatively easy, and very much so rewarding hike, there is Overall Run Falls in
Shenandoah National Park. There are several different sections to this hike, but we recommend staying around the lower falls because the higher you get, the more difficult it becomes. The hike can be completed in about four hours, and is great for families and even young children. No need to worry about getting over the creek, for you can utilize the footbridges at each crossing.
If you’re planning to bring kids or dogs along with you, try something a little different: hiking at a battlefield! These historic landmarks are such a great, educational, and leisurely way to get out and enjoy the fresh air. The Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historic Park is close to Middletown, Virginia. Hiking around the trail system is about a 1.7-mile loop and is referred to as the “Morning Attack Trails” because of its history. This is where the Confederates surprised the Union on October 19th, 1864. The amount of history here is incredible – you will spend so much time learning that you will forget you’re even hiking!
Are you wanting to bring the kids and the grandparents, but don’t know what would be suitable for everyone? Check out the Stony Main Trail, part of Shenandoah national Park. The trailhead is located at mile 41.7 on Skyline Drive, and the hike is only 1.6 miles total. It will only take about one-hour total, and the terrain is easy to hike on. When you reach the peak, you will have a breathtaking view of the Shenandoah Valley, the town of Luray, and the Massanutten and Allegheny Mountains. Pets are not allowed on the trail.
Here are Six Ways to Get Your Kids Excited Hiking in the Shenandoah National Park. We know it’s hard to get them off the couch sometimes, but just remind them that when the snow hits they will be dying to get out of the house!
With a total of fifteen-miles of trails to be explored, Great Falls Park is a great option!
Grab a trail map and plan out your route, or just start off on an adventure and see where you end up! These trails are not difficult in terrain or steep grades, but with so many miles to hike, it can turn into a long day. Walking amongst the falls is a beautiful sight, so be sure to bring a camera to capture nature’s beauty! There are picnic areas to rest and eat, and a visitor center which will provide you with information about the trails. This is a really good place to take kids because you can go for as long or as short as they can.
As you can see, Shenandoah National Park is a great destination when looking for easy to moderate hikes. We even wrote a previous blog, Time to Start Planning for Hiking, that highlights some more fun trails in the National Park. But don’t forget about the several other awesome hiking locations throughout Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland! No matter how difficult the hike may be, always remember to bring tons of water, wear appropriate hiking shoes, and pack snacks to stay energized! Make sure to do research on the trail before you head out so that you can plan the best time to go, and so you can know where to park and where the trailhead is.
Want more information? GoBRT has endless blogs on hiking for people of all ages! This blog, Take a Walk and Get Back to Nature, is a helpful resource with some great hiking destinations around the Shenandoah National Park. Are you a senior who would like some more options for hiking? Check out the blog Senior Hiking – A Special Walk and Lunch and you can read our blog that offers suggestions. And lastly, Best Hiking in Virginia and West Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains will help you discover other locations.