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Virginia State Parks

A Great Destination for Hiking

With our First Day Hikes coming up Jan. 1, I thought it was a great opportunity to talk about the great trails we have in our Virginia State Parks. Our Your Comments Count survey results year after year tell us that our trails are the number one reason people visit us. With well over 500 miles of trails, many of then multi-use, that makes a lot of sense. Three of our parks feature trails designated as National Recreation Trails: First Landing, New River Trail, and High Bridge Trail state parks. Two of our parks have direct access to the Appalachian Trail: Grayson Highlands and Sky Meadows state parks.

Cullers Overlook at Sunset, Shenandoah River State Park
Cullers Overlook at Sunset, Shenandoah River State Park

Whether you want a peaceful nature walk, an afternoon hike, or longer hikes, you can find a trail or trails on our 36 state parks. Our Virginia Outdoors website features virtual trail tours and maps that can be downloaded in advance of your trip. Our Virginia State Parks app lets you cache maps in advance (in case there is no cell signal for a download during your hike) and our electronic kiosks also have maps that can be printed. Don't forget our Trail Quest challenge where you earn rewards for visiting parks and hiking at least one trail. In addition to the trails physically in our parks, our overnight accommodations at most of our parks and proximity to other public lands with extensive trails, make Virginia State Parks a great base camp for hiking vacations.

Cabin 6 at Shenandoah River State Park makes a great base camp for hiking in the park and in the Shenandoah National Park
Cabin 6 at Shenandoah River State Park makes a great base camp
for hiking in the park and in Shenandoah National Park

My friend who writes the Gone Hikin' blog is from New Jersey but tries to make it down to Virginia once a year to enjoy a week of hiking with her German Shepherd Shawnee Shep. Shawnee has a delightful blog of her own called The Shenanigans of Shawnee the Shepherd. If you have followed our articles for a while you may have read posts before that describe their visits and hikes. All of the pictures in this post today come from their blogs from their most recent visit in late October, early November. 

Base Camp Cabin 6, Shenandoah River State Park

The porch is a great place to relax after hiking
The porch is a great place to relax after hiking

On their way from New Jersey, the hiking team stopped at Michaux State Forest in Pennsylvania and the head to Virginia. Read about their hiking base camp here and Shawnee's post here.

Hiking in Shenandoah River State Park

Shenandoah River with Masannutten Mountain in the distance
Shenandoah River with Massanutten Mountain in the distance

For details on their hikes in Shenandoah River State Park see the Bluebell Loop hike and Allen's Mountain to Wildcat LedgeShawnee's post is here and includes this video.

Shenandoah National Park hikes

This was their second visit to Shenandoah River State Park and they included several hikes in the National Park.

Shawnee on their Halloween hiking trip in Shenandoah National Park
Shawnee on their Halloween hiking trip in Shenandoah National Park

See the details of the hikes: Hogback Mountain hike, Rose River hike and Corbin Cabin hike. Shawnee's posts are Day 2 hike, Day 3 hike and Howloween Edition. There are tons of great pictures so be sure and click on all the links. But I will share a couple here.

My favorite photo from their hikes is this one:

The Day 2 hike post has several pictures of this bear
The Day 2 hike post has several pictures of this bear

I also like this picture of Shawnee by what she calls "falling waters" from the day 3 hike, Rose River.

One of several waterfall views
One of several waterfall views

Shawnee and her mom would get an early start for their off park hikes.

Early morning sunrise from the cabin area
Early morning sunrise from the cabin area

I hope you have enjoyed these pictures and hike details from their visit. Shenandoah River is also close to Sky Meadows State Park with more great hiking opportunities. Shawnee and her mom hiked there in their 2010 trip. Other great base camp parks for exceptional hiking opportunities include: James River, Smith Mountain Lake, Fairy Stone, Douthat, and Hungry Mother state parks. Shawnee and her mom have visited all of them and you can find those hikes in the Gone Hikin' blog by typing the park name in the search window top left.

Shawnee at Cullers overlook
Shawnee at Cullers Overlook

My thanks to both Shawnee and her mom for sharing such great details and photos of their adventures in and around Virginia State Parks! See you on the trail on January 1. 

Published: 12/30/2013

This idea to start off the year by hiking at one of Virginia's fantastic state parks is right on the mark. We make so many New Year's resolutions on exercising, such as buying an exercise machine or joining a gym, and they all end up along the curb or forgotten by Easter. By heading outdoors and doing something beneficial that is also in a gorgeous setting makes one truly want to do it rather than just tolerate it. I look forward to hiking and camping in these well-kept parks in 2014, and I bring my loved ones and friends each time I head out. We are looking at our new calendars and already scheduling all our hikes and adventures for 2014, starting at Sky Meadows, and making our rounds! Thank you for all you do.
- Bob Cianflone, 01/02/2014
I just saw that The Lakeview Restaurant at Douthat State Park made the list of the 30 top restaurants to visit in Virginia. The last time I ate there, I was amazed at the freshness and quality if the food. The homemade bread that was brought to our table was still warm from the oven, and it was delicious. The prices are also reasonable, and the view of the lake is beautiful. This first-rate restaurant is another hidden gem.
- Bob Cianflone, 04/04/2014
Thanks Bob. We posted an article on Douthat's listing here: Thanks. -- Nancy
- Nancy Heltman, 04/04/2014


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