Hike On and Off the Appalachian Trail
Nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg is just a short drive from the spectacular Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Many trails lead to a waterfall or viewpoint; others penetrate deep into the forest and wilderness. With the National Park Service now more than a century old, exploring our wonderful system of local, regional, state and national parks from coast-to-coast is officially a national passion! Harrisonburg revels in having 10 local parks, an arboretum and botanical gardens to share with locals and visitors alike. From the George Washington Forest to the West to Skyline Drive to the East the area offers many opportunities for great hiking. Not sure where to pick up a trail? Discover some of our favorite trails below or contact our Visitor Center for more information.
Harrisonburg is known as an outdoor playground with good reason.
Harrisonburg is Adventurous By Nature
The City of Harrisonburg was designated as an Appalachian Trail Community in 2011, which recognizes communities located along the trail corridor that promote and protect the trail. Harrisonburg is located just 18 miles west from the Swift Run Gap entrance of the Shenandoah National Park. Harrisonburg has an abundance of offerings for hikers, including local services, guides and gear. Harrisonburg is a participating Virginia Volkssport Association, offering a variety of hiking trails throughout the city for the entire family. Grab the gear you need at local Walkabout Outfitters before you hit the trails!
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
“Located only 18 miles to the west of the A.T., Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive, Harrisonburg, Virginia is a gateway to some of our country’s true national treasures . . . It’s no wonder why A.T. hikers and visitors love to spend time in Harrisonburg. Nestled in the scenic Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg is a trendy city filled with locally-owned restaurants, museums, art galleries and shops that connect historic downtown Harrisonburg to James Madison University.” – Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the guardians of the Appalachian Trail.
Don’t just take their word for it, come visit Harrisonburg and see for yourself!
Shenandoah National Park/Skyline Drive
3655 US HWY 211-HDQ Luray, VA 22835 | 540-999-3500
Located just outside of Harrisonburg, the Shenandoah National Park is a national treasure which includes the scenic 105-mile long Skyline Drive – a designated National Scenic Byway. The park lies along the crest of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, less than 90 miles southwest of Washington, DC. The park stretches about 80 miles from north to south and consists of more than 197,000 acres, including nearly 80,000 acres of designated wilderness. Skyline Drive, a world-famous park tour road, traversees the length of the park for 105 miles and provides opportunities for outstanding views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont from the numerous overlooks. The park boasts 500 miles of hiking trails, including 101 miles of the famous Appalachian Trail, as well as several historically significant landmarks.
Park Ranger programs are offered.
Additional Shenandoah Park information, packages, area dining and more available at GoShenandoah.com.
For lodging reservations call 877-847-1919.
George Washington National Forest
North River Ranger District
401 Oakwood Dr. Harrisonburg, VA 22801 | Toll Free 866-904-0240 or Local 540-432-0187
The George Washington National Forest expands through Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky; the North River Ranger District is situated just west of Harrisonburg. The Deerfield Portion of the North River Ranger District is located in the scenic ridge and valley province of northwestern Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains. There are 161,000 acres in this portion alone.The Dry River Portion of this District includes portions of Virginia and West Virginia as it straddles the scenic Shenandoah Mountain. This portion covers nearly 230,000 acres of forest land. Most of the recreational opportunities in the North River Ranger District are of a dispersed nature: hiking, hunting, fishing, ATV riding, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, fishing and picnicking.
Edith J Carrier Arboretum
780 University Blvd. Harrisonburg, VA | 540-568-3194
Walk winding woodland trails landscaped with native plants and botanical gardens. There are about 2 miles of mostly shaded trails within the Arboretum and adjacent jogging area. Located on the James Madison University campus in Harrisonburg, this arboretum is the perfect spot for nature walks and picnics for all.
Eastern Mennonite University Eden Arboretum and Park Woods
Located behind the Science Center on Eastern Mennonite University’s campus, the Eden Arboretum is a one-acre greenland where ecology, biology education, and international agriculture. The second part of the arboretum is Park Woods, a 13-acre partially restored oak-hickory climax forest with mature stands of native trees and understory. Walk to Peace Park, Kansas Garden, and the Bridge honoring Emma Shetler Brubaker.
Harrisonburg City Parks
The Harrisonburg Parks and Recreation Department manages 10 parks, a playground, bike trails, soccer complex, softball and baseball fields, and two pools. The largest park in the City of Harrisonburg is Hillandale Park that encompasses 74 acres. More information about the parks can be found online.
Explore the links below to learn more about Harrisonburg’s parks:
Ralph Sampson Park
Riven Rock Park
Smithland Road Soccer Complex
Westover Skate Park
Westover Swimming Pool Complex
5 Caverns Blvd. Grottoes, VA | 540-249-5705
Grand Caverns, a Natural National Landmark, offers a loop trail for hiking and biking, partly along the South River. The area also has shelters and tables, a children’s play area, and limestone caverns. Grand Caverns is located just 15 miles outside of Harrisonburg.
Lake Shenandoah at Massanetta Springs
There are about 2 miles of trail around this fishing lake: a good spot for dog walking and bird watching. An access fee is required. Lake Shenandoah is located just a few miles east of Harrisonburg.
Directions: Take left from Bruce St. onto Mason St. then right at the light on E Market St. (33). Continue out of the city to Massanetta Springs Rd. Turn right there and continue to the lake.
Madison Run Fire Road
Between Browns Gap Rd and Skyline Dr, Grottoes, VA 24441
Shenandoah National Park
This hiking spot is filled with a variety of birds and butterflies, and is located just outside of Harriosnburg. Explore five miles of dirt alongside Madison Run, with a gradual ascent from fire road gate at base of mountain to top at Skyline Drive. This is an excellent wildflower and wildlife walk. Biking is not allowed. There is no entrance fee.
Directions: Take Port Republic Rd. from S. Main to Eastside Highway (340). Cross 340. Turn left on Browns Gap Rd. at the T (1.8 miles from 340). Continue on the road past the hard surface and park near the Park.
Paul State Forest
Clover Hill Rd., Dayton, VA 22821 (just north of Ottobine)
About 10 miles southwest of Harrisonburg is a 173-acre state forest with a variety of hardwood species in the middle of pristine farmland, that date back to pre-Civil War days in Ottobine. There are approximately 3 miles of a near-level trail through the forest. This forest is also home to a variety of birds and native plant species and is a popular site for geo-caching.
Directions: Drive 3 miles south of Dayton on Hwy 42 South. Then take Highway 257 west, turn right on Route 613 at the Ottobine General Store, and park at the Paul State Forest entrance just up the road on the right.
Trail to Scenic Overlook
Cliff Trail, Hone Quarry, VA
This spectacular viewing point is on Cliff Trail, at Hone Quarry Recreation Area, in George Washington National Forest just outside of Harrisonburg. The trail is rocky and steep in places, but only about 1/2-mile long, and leads you to a picturesque rock ledge overlook.
Directions: Take Martin Luther King Jr. Way (formerly Cantrell Ave.) to S High St (42). Turn left. In Dayton turn right at 3rd light onto multi-curved 257 going west. Entrance to Hone Quarry is just beyond the George Washington National Forest sign. Parking area is one mile inside the recreation area.
648 W. Bank St. Bridgewater, VA
Wildwood Park is home to a two-thirds-mile loop through wooded area along North River, as well as a scenic dam with spillway, a suspension bridge, a picnic shelter, tables and a play area.
Directions: Take Martin Luther King Jr. Way (formerly Cantrell Ave.) to S. High St. (42). Turn left. Continue to Bridgewater. Turn right onto Bank St., just before the North River bridge, then left at the end of Bank St. Park near shelter.