Meet the 5 “Boots Optional” Trails Beating a Bold Path through the Shenandoah Valley

Some of the best trails in the Shenandoah Valley aren’t steep pitches that are best tackled with hiking boots. Casual walking shoes will carry you through artisan trails, welcoming farms in fields of gold, and even to the best craft breweries and wineries in the Shenandoah Valley.  We’ve mapped the five itineraries that promise adventure, culture, sweeping vistas, and a nice cold brew.

(1) Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail

The 14 craft breweries along the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail range from the industrial vibes of Basic City Beer Co. , listed as “truly a brewery to look out for” by the Wandering Gourmand to the horse farm and mountain views of Stable Craft Brewing. Others like Redbeard Brewing Company offer warm fermented, unfiltered “real ale”, naturally carbonated  in the kegs they are served from in this nearby Staunton nanobrewery.  Never more than an hour’s drive from each other, the breweries along this trail will have you exploring the historic architecture and cultural centers of small downtowns, the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley, and welcoming tap rooms with plenty of space for friends.

Skyler Hill pours a beer from Basic City Beer Company’s unique tap tower made of reclaimed materials from the Virginia Metalcrafters foundry.

Don’t miss the many live music events scheduled throughout the springtime calendar. Although the Beerwerks Trail is dotted with food trucks and onsite restaurants to fuel your adventure, don’t miss out on the trail’s side tours of local food offerings.

Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail map

(2) Fields of Gold Farm Trail

Cool Breeze Farms on the Fields of Gold Farm Trail

While in the search for the finest local fare, the Fields of Gold Farm Trail explores the stories and roots of Virginia’s family farmers. Taste fresh maple syrup with Back Creek Farms, pick daylilies and peonies at Andre Viette’s Flower Farm and Nursery, or learn how to make goat cheese with A Better Way Farm and Goat Dairy. Pick-your-own-fruit and working-farm tour options abound, as do farmers markets, food festivals, and gourmet meals at farm-to-table restaurant destinations.

Waynesboro Farmers Market

With over 200 farming venues, the variety of options are more abundant than August tomatoes. The Fields of Gold trail maps allow visitors to explore farms by location up and down the Shenandoah Valley, as well as search for adventures by keyword including farm experiences, trout fishing excursions, on-farm lodging, and more.

(3) Heart and Soil Artisan Trail

From sheep farms to hand-painted yarn stores, the Heart and Soil Artisan Trail connects travelers to the cultural destinations of craft, tradition, and locally made artwork. Explore artisan studios like  Make Waynesboro, which offers hands-on pottery classes and special events for all ages, as well as Appalachian Piecework, a working textile studio that also features handsplit bark baskets and turned wood bowls. At Wintuck Pottery, Lynn Hilton Conyers works as a contemporary potter combining Raku firings with mixed media surface decorations.

Jake Johnson teaches wheel throwing at his studio, Make Waynesboro

The Heart and Soil Artisan Trail also offers art gallery destinations like the Shenandoah Valley Art Center, the P. Buckley Moss Gallery, as well as more classical performance spaces such as the Wayne Theatre, whose bookings range from live music to movie nights to the very grandest of theatre productions.

Moss Gallery in downtown Waynesboro

(4) Virginia is for Lovers Wine Trails

With nearly 300 wineries along trails stretching across the state, Virginia is a unique wine destination and the Shenandoah Valley, with its blue ridges and sparking sunsets, offers some of its finest destinations. Rows of grapes drape rolling hills, beckoning visitors to stroll, explore, and relax.

Afton Mountain Vineyards

Wineries within easy striking distance of Waynesboro include Afton Mountain, Barren Ridge, Cardinal Point, Flying Fox, King Family, and Veritas, but the list doesn’t stop there. Explore the the Nelson 151 Trail on the slopes of the Blue Ridge, drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway to discover Virginia’s Mountain Road Wine Experience, or learn how Thomas Jefferson’s home has become the Monticello Viticultural Area in recognition of the region’s distinguished and burgeoning wine industry. The one thing holding you back will be the question of how to pack all possible trail adventures into one loop.

(5) Guided Tours by Local Trail Blazers

With so many trails to explore, working with a local guide can customize your adventures, while providing transportation for a “driving free” winery and brewery experience. Shenandoah Tours offers personalized craft beer tours featuring multiple brewery destinations, multiple tastings at each brewers, and a group lunch as part of the excursion.

Stephanie Spencer enjoys a flight at Stable Craft Brewing

To pair wine-sipping adventures with cozy bed-and-breakfasts, the Summer Valley and Vineyards Package at Belle Hearth offers a three-course gourmet breakfast, chauffered tours to award-winning vineyards and cideries, a picnic lunch, and dinner vouchers for two for a night on the town.

Belle Hearth Bed & Breakfast

Finally, the Iris Inn’s Shenandoah Valley farm tour introduces guests to celebrity farms like Polyface, renowned for ecological and regenerative farming practices, as well as White Oak Lavender Farm for aromatherapy workshops, and Open Gate Farm for baby chick and milk goat petting. By the end of these trails, a relaxing evening in the Iris Inn’s outdoor hammocks will be well deserved–no shoes required!

Iris Inn Bed & Breakfast and Luxury Cabins

Two-Wheeled Touring Near Waynesboro – Bicycle and Motorcycle Itineraries

Sometimes the ride is as exhilarating and beautiful as any destination. If you’re looking for sweeping turns, windswept mountain vistas, or country roads to cruise, these bicycle and motorcycle itineraries are sure to inspire.

Pedaling on Pavement

Day Trip Tours from Waynesboro are plentiful. Beginners and family-friendly options include the South River Greenway, stretching from Constitution Park and meandering along the South River, which on Saturday mornings features the Waynesboro Farmers Market. Or stretch a little further with the 12.5 mile Waynesboro-to-Dooms Day Loop, which takes you along the South River as it flows north towards its confluence with the North River. Intermediate riders may love the Waynesboro-to-Grottoes Loop which, over the course of 35 miles, can include a tour of Grand Caverns in the town of Grottoes and passes the renowned horticulturalist André Viette’s extensive perennial garden and nursery on Long Meadow Road.  Don’t be shy about exploring other options, as Bike the Valley’s database of On Road rides remains extensive.

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A Trail of Two Waynesboros

Hikers of the Appalachian Trail may be surprised to find Waynesboro on their map twice—once in Virginia and once in Pennsylvania. Both are designated Appalachian Trail Communities (Waynesboro, PA shares its ATC designation with Washington Township and together they go by “Greater Waynesboro Area, PA”). Hikers visiting both locales can expect a warm welcome when they stop to resupply, and visitors taking a faster mode of transportation will be equally charmed by the small-town culture.

Main Street in downtown Waynesboro, VA.

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Taste Bud Tempting Food & Brews to Power Your Next Outdoor Adventure

Outdoor adventures are fueled by more than good cheer: Great food and delicious hydration all contribute to the perfect day in the woods. From mountain treks to parkway picnics, we’ve paired the flavor of local food with the taste of adventure for every style of outdoor recreation.

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5 Springtime River Adventures for the Whole Family

Spring is the season where the water is up, the warm weather invites, and the natural world bursts with new possibilities. It’s the season for trout fishing Saturdays, festivals and childhood wonder, and of course lazy river floats. If the season has you feeling as restless as the birds, Waynesboro has a golden suite of river and water adventures perfect for the whole family to celebrate spring.

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Take a hike, Cabin Fever! –  3 Surefire Cures in the Shenandoah Valley

If that Snuggie you’ve been hiding behind can stand on its own this winter, it’s high time to take your cabin fever for a ride!  These surefire cures near Waynesboro, Virginia, will help you get out among the living and experience a fresh, invigorating view.

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The Darker Side of the Shenandoah

The Darker Side of the Shenandoah – The Legends & Stories Waiting for You Near Waynesboro, VA

Coming to the Shenandoah Valley for the spring wildflowers and a gentle stroll?  This isn’t the trip planner for you. But if you’re looking for a little mystery to go with your outdoor explorations, read on! Like every beautiful place, the Shenandoah Valley is also home to a whole series of legends and stories of a darker nature – sightings and encounters that defy explanation, handed down over generations of adventurers. Here are a few ideas for a walk on the wild side near Waynesboro, VA.

The Dreaded Wampus of the Blue Ridge Mountains

“A piercing scream.”  “An awful smell, like a skunk and a wet dog.”  “Five feet tall.”   “An unholy hybrid of canine and feline.”   “It was holding my pal with a hand.  Then it hissed and took off – on two legs!”

The dreaded Wampus Cat has been known to stalk the mountains of the South and these very lands for generations.  Sure, the illusive Wampus Cat has recently experienced wild popularity as a cutesy mascot and a fantastic beast valued by famous wandmakers.  But don’t allow the Wampus Cat’s newfound familiarity to cause you to drop your guard.  When you’re exploring these Blue Ridge Mountains, you never know what you’ll find or what will find you.  Be sure to follow the cardinal rule – always hike with a buddy!

Spoooooky Swannanoa

Photo credit The University of Science and Philosophy

Swannanoa Palace has many faces.  Poised atop Afton Mountain, the historic marble mansion is viewed by some as a symbol of love and devotion, by others as an eerie magnet for the paranormal.

Built in 1912 as a summer home, the Gatsby-esque mansion is said to be a token of love from James Dooley to his wife Sallie May.  The 23,000-square-foot home boasts Gilded Age architecture, Italian marble, 52 rooms, and ornate woodwork.  But the highlight is a 4,000 piece-Tiffany Glass window with a likeness of Sallie May herself.

In its early years, Swannanoa enjoyed a short stint as a country club (even hosting President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge for Thanksgiving 1928) and an even shorter stint as a convent. Beginning in 1948, Swannanoa was home for fifty years to Walter Russell’s University of Science and Philosophy, an organization focused on elevating cosmic consciousness in the human race.

Today, Swannanoa Palace makes for a popular wedding and photo shoot venue and a prime setting for paranormal investigations.  To experience both the grandeur and the beautiful eeriness that is Swannanoa, keep an eye out for this year’s schedule of historic tours.

Eternal Darkness In the Land of 4000 Caves

Fountain Cave at Grand Caverns

All is definitely not as it seems here in the Shenandoah Valley.  Something lurks below these majestic mountains and scenic byways.  In a state with over 4,000 caves, the Waynesboro area has its share of legends and ghostly tales.  Even in a show cave such as Grand Caverns, a few well-placed lights are all that hold the eternal darkness at bay.  To experience the thrill and chill of our region’s underworld (and to be ensured to come back safely to tell the tale), contact WILD GUYde Adventures or get down ‘n’ dirty with a trek through Fountain Cave.

“And we’ll hear the dead people talk.”

Sue Eisenfeld’s The Memory Keepers

Wild, delightful, haunting, beautiful, tragic… Shenandoah National Park has been described in a number of ways.  To truly appreciate a walk in these woods, explore the complex history and heritage infused in this land.  Author Sue Eisenfeld’s writings on the lost communities, relics, and memories of these mountains is a good place to start.  Following the wisdom of Tennessee Williams to “hear the dead people talk,” Eisenfeld captures both the thrill and the sadness of coming upon plane wreckage, burial plots, and the remnants of lives lived within Shenandoah.  To feel this for yourself, take a hike along South River Falls Trail to the ruins of Pocosin Mission.  Sit alone in silence and you might hear the many voices of Shenandoah.

What’s waiting for you in Waynesboro, VA?  There’s only one way to find out.  But bring a friend…or two.

Outdoor Adventure Challenges, Shenandoah-Valley Style

Toughest Rides, Hikes, and Climbs Near Waynesboro, VA

Think you need to trek out west for extreme outdoor adventures? Think again! Rugged hikes, epic mountain biking, and exhilarating climbs are all just a short drive from the urban bustle of Washington, D.C., Fredericksburg, and Richmond.  Base your adventures here in Waynesboro, VA and you’ll be smack in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley with quick access to Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, the Appalachian Trail, and the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountain Ranges.

But hold up, there’s a bonus!  Waynesboro has all the stuff you need when you come off the trail – gear repair, great local food, killer craft beer options, to-die-for coffee shops (yes, with wifi!), and friendly locals to answer your questions.  We’re an Appalachian Trail Community and the people you meet on the streets of Waynesboro may have just come off the trail themselves!  Get their take on the toughest adventures around and add them to this challenge list.

Pumped Up for Bikepacking

BikePacking.com

Ready to break free from the city and get down to basics? Rack the bike and gun it to the Shenandoah Valley to access the most extreme trail around.  Just remember, you’ve been warned: The Virginia Mountain Bike Trail is no joke.  It’s a 473-mile epic backcountry expedition along the length of Virginia’s Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountain Ranges.  You, your wheels, and your gear need to be at peak performance.  Before you even think about launching into the wilderness, spend some time at Rockfish Gap Outfitters in Waynesboro. Whether you’re looking for a tune-up, overhaul, or fresh new wheels and gear, these are the pros you want helping you prep.

Don’t have 10 sick days to allocate to The Virginia Mountain Bike Trail? Take a look instead at the Blue Ridge Wrangler. This challenging 158-mile loop starts and ends near Waynesboro, so it’s readily accessible for a long weekend getaway from the big city.

Into the Wild

Hiking Upward: Three Ridges

The Priest Wilderness is 5,994 acres of rugged beauty in west central Virginia.  To summit the Priest is to have conquered what is considered by many to be one of the toughest day hikes on the Appalachian Trail. This is due in part to an unrelenting elevation gain of 3,000 feet in one 4-mile stretch of the trail. As one hiker puts it, this is “the hike that gives you the most bang for your climbing buck in the entire state.”

For another intense workout, check out Three Ridges.  It’s another quad-burner, with nearly 4,000 feet in elevation gain.  But tackle this hike and you’re rewarded with vista after vista and small waterfalls.

On Top of the World

Blue Ridge Mountain Guides

Looking for exhilaration and the best views around?  Then you’ll want to book a rock- or ice-climbing trip with Blue Ridge Mountain Guides.  Whether this is your first ascent or you’re a die-hard climber, these instructors can tailor climbs to fit your goals.  To share in your glory, rope in a few of your buddies and conquer the mountain (and your fears) together!

So which adventure is calling you?  “Schedule” those sick days and get ready to play hard in Waynesboro, Virginia!