Spring Hiking in National Parks Near Waynesboro VA

One Visit, Two National Parks

This spring, make Waynesboro, VA your destination for outdoor recreation.  The city is located just 3 miles from the junction of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the south and Skyline Drive heading north through Shenandoah National Park.  You’ll have hundreds of miles of trails to choose from, and with a little planning you can experience two National Parks over one weekend.

Spring has Sprung in Shenandoah National Park

Credit: NPS

While planning out which trailheads, overlooks, and picnic areas you’d like to visit, you’ll find that most maps and guides refer to mileposts (MP) along Skyline Drive.  This scenic road runs north to south through Shenandoah National Park, beginning at MP 0 at the Front Royal North Entrance Station and traveling to MP 105 at the Rockfish Gap South Entrance Station near Waynesboro.

Credit: NPS

The entrance permit ($25 per car), gives you 7 days to explore the Park.  Start at one of the Visitor Centers if you need help deciding where to begin.  Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (MP 4.6) and Byrd Visitor Center (MP 51) are both open for the season.  You can stop by daily between 9 AM – 5 PM for maps, ranger programs, exhibits, and restrooms.  The Visitor Centers are also a great place to ask about special events coming up in the Park such as Wildflower Weekend or Kids to Parks Day in May.

Credit: NPS

There are over 500 miles of hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park.  Your options range from “kid-friendly” to “very strenuous”.  These suggested hikes and tips can help you choose the right level of adventure for you or your group.

For challenging and rewarding hikes in the South District of the Park, consider Doyles River (MP 81.1) with its waterfalls or Big Run Loop (MP 81.2) with its view and wildflowers.  Both of these trails are accessible from scenic Loft Mountain Campground (MP 79.5), making it convenient to extend your wilderness getaway! 

Blossoms in the Blue Ridge 

 
Credit: BlueRidgeNPS Instagram

The historic Blue Ridge Parkway stretches from MP 0 in Rockfish Gap, just east of Waynesboro in VA, to MP 469, about 30 miles southwest of Waynesville in NC.  There’s no entrance fee to travel along the Parkway.  The route offers an abundance of floral, visual and cultural riches to enjoy.  These maps, trail descriptions, and calendar of events can help get you started. For additional insight into the region, stop by Rockfish Gap Tourist Information Center  before you head onto the Parkway.

Credit: BlueRidgeNPS Instagram

If you have limited time for exploration, head to Humpback Rocks  (MP 5.8).  It’s a short distance from Waynesboro, and with one stop you can pack in a lot of variety.  The Humpback Rocks Visitor Center opens for the season on May 5, 2017, and travelers can stop in daily from 10 AM – 5 PM.  The historic Humpback Rocks Farm opens on May 13, 2017, and offers weekend farmlife demonstrations and a collection of 1890s farm buildings that are open daily from 10 AM – 5 PM.

Stretch your legs on the Humpback Rocks Hiking Trails system, which includes a section of the famous Appalachian Trail.  Hike or drive to Humpback Rocks Picnic Area (MP 8.5) for lunch or a rest stop.  Portable toilets are available beginning April 1, with full services open May 19.

James River Picnic Area, Credit: NPS / Peter Hamel

James River Visitor Center and Picnic Area (MP 63.6) is another great option for a day trip along the Blue Ridge parkway.  The picnic area is open year round with portable toilets available beginning April 1 and full services beginning May 19.  When the Visitor Center opens for the season on June 28, travelers can stop in Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10 AM – 5 PM and weekends from 9 AM – 5 PM.  At the Visitor Center you can learn about transportation history in central and southern Appalachia and take a walk along the Canal Lock Trail to explore exhibits at the restored Battery Creek Lock.

Other hiking trails in the area include Otter Creek Trail, which connects the James River Visitor Center to Otter Creek Campground (Milepost 60.8), just a few miles north.

The campground opens for the season on May 5, 2017.  It’s first come, first served through May 25, and then advance reservations may be made May 26 – October 28, 2017.

With two National Parks on our doorstep, the possibilities for spring hiking are endless! But spring only lasts a few weeks, so plan your getaway now!

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