Best Charlottesville Hiking Trails

At first glance, it might be tempting to write Charlottesville off as just another college town. Indeed, the University of Virginia affects every aspect of life in the town, from its residents to its restaurants. However, Charlottesville remains one of Virginia's most beautiful towns with plenty to offer for any visitor, whether you're looking for history or hiking - in fact, since the town is nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, some of the best hiking in the state is just minutes from the town of Charlottesville.

If you're planning on taking on the best Charlottesville hiking trails, consider booking one of the area's numerous vacation rentals. In addition to offering more space and value than the area's pricy hotels, they allow more privacy. Some rentals are even located in the woods - putting you directly in the heart of Charlottesville's natural beauty.

Ready to hit the trail? Here are some of the best Charlottesville hiking trails around.

charlottesville hiking Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is an easy 30-40 minute drive from Charlottesville, and this stunning park is well worth the trip. Waterfalls? Mountains? Scenic overlooks? Shenandoah's whopping 500 miles of trails has it all. Shenandoah National Park also hosts over 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, so if you're looking to cross a piece of the Appalachian off your bucket list, you can start here.

Old Rag Mountain

This trail may be one of Shenandoah National Park's most popular, but it's also one of its most dangerous. Rangers are forced to embark on search and rescue missions on Old Rag every year because of inexperienced hikers or natural dangers. Only attempt Old Rag if you've got prior hiking experience.

The trail itself is an eight-mile circuit with significant altitude changes and a challenging rock scramble. Bring plenty of water and plan on having about seven or eight hours to complete the hike. For the best experience, hit Old Rag on a weekday; the mountain gets extremely crowded on the weekends.

Limberlost Trail

If you've got limited mobility but still want to enjoy the beauty of Shenandoah, Limberlost Trail is the trail for you. This 1.3 gentle, green-laden trail was built for people with challenged mobility in mind.

White Oak Canyon Hills

This four-hour hike offers some of the prettiest waterfall views in the park. Though steep at some parts, the trail is still reasonable enough for children. White Oak Canyon Hills is not a loop, however; to return, you'll need to retrace your steps.

Humpback Rocks

Humpback Rocks is separate from Shenandoah National Park. This popular hike is located off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Due to its immense popularity, try to schedule a Humpback Rocks trip on a weekday. Though the hike is relatively short (just over two hours), the trail is immensely steep - but the panoramic views at the top are worth it.

Crabtree Falls

Boasting the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, Crabtree Falls is one of the prettiest hiking trails in the area. As one of the best Charlottesville hiking trails, this four-mile hike is less difficult than the other trails on this list, but the falls make this hike a must-do for both new and experienced hikers.

Know Your Limits

Some of Shenandoah's trails stay relatively close to access points, but others lead deep into the wilderness. While the latter is a wonderful way to literally get away from it all, don't push yourself. Each of Shenandoah's trails is marked by difficulty level. If you're a casual hiker, stick to the flatter trails; they're just as beautiful as the mountainous ones. Remember to always bring a compass and water; with 500 miles of trails, you don't want to risk getting lost.


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