Family Friendly Hikes Near Waynesboro
Soccer Saturdays are over and fall ball is a wrap. Even little league football is finishing up its final games of the season. If you’re at a loss for how to schedule some quality family time outside with the kids, why not take a hike? Here are some of our local favorites that are fun for everybody, even the smallest legs.
Nobody is going to complain about a stroll along the newly extended 2-mile South River Greenway. From the flat walkable, bikeable, stroller-able terrain to the river views, to the easy access to snacks downtown, this in-city treasure is a win for everybody involved. While you’re strolling along the path, be sure to check out the street art along the way. Download the Traipse app for information about the murals and a fun, interactive scavenger hunt. You can also stop by the Blue Ridge Children’s Museum’s Natural Playground along the way so the kids can explore the outdoor kitchen, rock slide, and more. Stone Soup Books is right next to the playground and offers rescued and new books for all ages. There’s also lots of parking, potty pit stops, and interpretive signs about birds and wildlife on the Greenway!
Even jaded, screen-obsessed teens will enjoy the excitement of a hike along the Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail. Bring a flashlight: the mile-long former railroad tunnel is really dark!
Consider Fido part of the family? Plan a hike at Coyner Springs Park. Let your dog burn some energy in the large leash-free zone and then take a family stroll along one of the park’s nature trails. There’s a 9-hole disc golf course, too.
Try the ¼-mile Mountain Farm Trail (MP 5.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway) to learn how earlier inhabitants of the area lived and survived in the 1890s. This kid-friendly leg-stretcher shares parking lots with Humpback Rocks and can be part of the longer, harder hike.
Not ready to trust your kids near the steep drop offs at Humpback Rocks? Opt instead for the nearby hike to White Rock Falls from the Slacks overlook (MP 9.9 on the Blue Ridge Parkway). The falls are about a mile downhill from the road and offer a pretty view and stones to throw. The trail continues for a longer hike, but if you retrace your steps (back up the hill, unfortunately), your total will be 2.2 miles.
If you’re looking for a family hike in Shenandoah National Park, try 2.2-mile Turk Mountain Hike (MP 93.5 on the Skyline Drive). It starts at the Turk Mountain Parking Area and can be hiked in an hour or two. While relatively easy, the hike does contain some rocky areas. The summit has boulders to clamber over and incredible views to the west. Family photo, anyone?
Blackrock Summit (MP 84.8 on the Skyline Drive) is another short hike in the southern section of SNP. The 1.8-mile trail ends with terrific views of the Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten. It’s also a TRACK trail that includes a brochure designed to teach kids to enjoy nature. For more about the TRACK program, check out the Kids In Parks program, which promises to help your family “get unplugged” and “get outdoors.”
There’s more to Sherando Lake Recreation Area than summertime camping, fishing, and swimming. The Jewel of the Blue Ridge also offers up miles of hiking trails in the national forest. Some, like the mostly-flat 1.2-mile Lakeside Trail, are great for families with kids.
Verona’s Trails at Mill Place are a surprise tucked behind an industrial area, but the 2/3-mile paved loop is quiet and pretty. It’s also away from traffic, so you can let the littles run ahead. The loop circles a two-acre pond and has benches and picnic tables.
Natural Chimneys State Park’s campground makes it a good place for a weekend of roughing it with the family. In the summer season, you’ll enjoy a pool, and more, but in the winter, you’ll get a nice view of the seven giant limestone formations rising 120 feet into the air. There are several short trails to explore, a total of 2 ½ miles in total.