Top 5 Best Hikes in Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

* * *

I love hiking whether I’m home or far away and living in Virginia means that there’s no shortage of trails to choose from (with weather that makes them accessible year-round!). This state may be underrated for its outdoor recreation, but it has treasures if you know where to look. Here are the best hikes in Virginia if you’re exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains.

best hikes in virginia pinterest image
Pin this post!

Best Hike in Virginia for Playing Around: Devil’s Marbleyard (8.3 miles)

best hikes in virginia devil's marbleyard
On top of the “Marbles”, a great day hike in Virginia

This hike is a natural wonder in an area full of man-made cheesy tourist attractions (interested in Natural Bridge laser shows or Foamhenge?).  It’s a 5.5-hour round-trip with a rocky playground, so it’s not unheard of to add more time just for climbing the massive boulders.

best hikes in va / virginia hikes devil's marbleyard
Find the person in this photo to get a sense of scale on these boulders.

There’s a great sidetrip on the Appalachian Trail to add an additional hour to your journey and include a nice Blue Ridge panorama if you’re feeling ambitious.

Best Short Trail in Virginia: Crabtree Falls (4.4 miles)

best hikes in virginia crabtree falls
Crabtree Falls in late summer. This is a popular option for the best hikes in Virginia.

Crabtree Falls is my favorite short hike in the state.  In just three hours, you’ll witness an area which is rumored to have the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi (my opinion: they’re not, since it’s not one continuous waterfall).  It’s a great day trip from Charlottesville, especially in spring when the water levels are at their highest.

For a longer hike, combine this with either Spy Rock or The Priest, both also excellent options.  Do Crabtree Falls first thing in the morning before it gets crowded and then drive to the next one in the afternoon.  Serious trekkers can link all three together for a single, 16+ mile hike of about 8.5 hours.  Yup, I did it and LOVED the whole thing.

best hikes in virginia the priest
Nearby, at The Priest

Best Hike in Shenandoah National Park: Old Rag (8.0 miles)

old rag shenandoah national park virginia hikes
Views from along the Old Rag Trail

Shenandoah National Park is overrated.  I’ve been there numerous times because it’s easy to get to, but in my “expert” opinion, the areas further south on the Blue Ridge Parkway are more beautiful than Shenandoah.

shenandoah national park best hikes in virginia
Start climbing! Old Rag is more of a scramble than a traditional trail

Regardless, Old Rag is a really fun day hike.  A lot of the “hike” is more about scrambling up the rocks than walking along a trail, so be prepared for some climbing.  Along with the enjoyment of getting there, you’ll get some great views at the top.  Be prepared for crowds.

>>>>> Related Post: Hiking Old Rag in the Winter

Best Hiking Near Roanoke VA: McAfee Knob (8.3 miles)

mcafee knob triple crown best hikes in virginia
A great panoramic viewpoint from McAfee Knob

McAfee Knob is one of the most well-known sections of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia and for good reason: it’s fun and downright gorgeous.  The overlook is unique, and just a little scary, but it makes for a very romantic sunset spot.

You’ll find the trailhead in Catawba, VA, so it’s a fun weekend combined with a Virginia Tech football game or massive meal at The Homestead (it’s a legend!).

Want more hiking?  We combined this with Tinker Cliffs and Dragon’s Tooth trails for an insanely awesome backpacking trip known as the Triple Crown of Virginia.

becky at mcafee knob best hikes in virginia
Watch your step!

Best Part of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia: Grayson Highlands State Park (any length)

grayson highlands fall best hikes in virginia
Spectacular anytime of year, but the fall colors are lovely.

Grayson Highlands State Park is my favorite spot of Virginia.  People describe it like the Highlands of Scotland, which I’ve never been to, but I can confirm this state park is breathtaking.

The spur trail to Mt. Rogers (the tallest point in Virginia) was a bit anticlimactic, but I love the Appalachian Trail in Virginia as it passes through the park and several regional paths.  Even if you’re just hiking a mile or two, you’ll likely meet some wild ponies, but serious hikers will find opportunities for long hikes as well.

best hikes in virginia grayson highland ponies
No filter on this photo – just the eerie view of wild ponies in the fog.
best hikes in virginia grayson highlands state park va
Ready for some backcountry camping

Related Posts: The Great Channels of Virginia and the Creeper Trail are both nearby in Abingdon!  Plan a great long weekend 🙂

Plan Your Virginia Vacation

REI and Blue Ridge Mountain Shops are consistently stocked with topographical maps and trail books to help plan your journey.  Otherwise, Hiking Upward is a great resource for beginning information.

To add variety to your trip and include some activities other than hiking, be sure to check out my list of Virginia travel resources.  This guide to the best of my home state will get you started with city attractions, restaurants, and activities to add on top of the best hikes in Virginia!

17 thoughts on “Top 5 Best Hikes in Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains”

  1. LOVE this. I did the McAfee Knob hike a few years ago when I was working on a project in the area. I have the same backpack 🙂

  2. I love hiking so much! I backpacked for years but most of our Virginia hiking was in the Southern part of the State in the Mount Rogers National Recreation area.The area is known for its trails of varied difficulty (somehow, I think all of mine were the difficult ones!) and the trails often incorporate parts of the Appalachaian Tral. The vegetative variety is incredible as well -deciduous forests, spruce stands, alpine meadows… You can even find wild ponies! In the spring the rhododendron area is just too beautiful for words.
    Thanks for the great reminder!

  3. Please recommend trails about10-12miles/ one day trip since I live at leonia New Jersey and like to hike va spruce or mcfee . However there are too many trails to choose .
    Plan to hike 4-5 members In April
    Your guidance would be appreciated

    1. @Gwang, McAfee’s Knob is one of my favorites…it’s only 8.3 miles, but since it’s attached to the Appalachian Trail, you can go further to easily tack on some additional distance. I also recommend the website for hiking information and maps!

  4. Pingback: 5 Facts About the Great Channels of Virginia to Impress Your Friends - The Girl and Globe

  5. I’ve done some of these hikes including my favorite, McAfee Knob. Grayson Highlands is gorgeous too. But I’m not crazy about Crabtree Falls for a few reasons: it’s a plodding up, up, up to the top; too much man-made infrastructure (rails, steps, platforms) detracts from the natural beauty; the falls were underwhelming; and the view from the top was limited. I know a lot of people rank this hike highly, so that’s just my two cents.

  6. Freadrick md has alot of great trails. And camping .i grew up walking trails and camping at Patapsico state park in MD . On my bucket list is to walk the threw walk of the Appalachian trail for 1 year .I had walked trails threw sky line drive it is beautiful all year round my favorite was a week in Christmas have fun walking .

Leave a Reply to Becky Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *