Winter Hikes Near Waynesboro
Traditionally, one of the top New Year’s resolutions is to get outside and get into shape. A refreshing hike in the open air is also good for relaxation and connection to the here and now. With its prime location in the Shenandoah Valley and access to Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Waynesboro is a perfect starting point for a winter excursion. Best of all it’s easy to head back to town and warm up once your hike is over. Here are some of our favorite hikes to enjoy this winter.
Some of Our Favorite Hikes along the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway
The Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway are amazing at any time of year. In winter, leaves are off the trees and their absence provides visitors with chances to see for miles from scenic overlooks along the roads and trails. These sometimes close in the winter due to icy conditions at higher altitudes. Make sure to check the websites for road status before heading to the trailhead. Shenandoah National Park suggests calling 540-999-3500 for the most up-to-date information on roads. Remember, a $30 single vehicle pass is required to enter Shenandoah National Park, and it can be used for seven consecutive days. You can purchase your pass online or at any of the entrance stations, including Rockfish Gap just outside of Waynesboro.
While it can be done as part of a 10-mile loop, the 2.2-mile Turk Mountain Hike (MP 93.5) starts at the Turk Mountain Parking Area and can be hiked in an hour or two. The hike is considered easy but does contain some rocky areas. When you reach the summit, plant yourself on a boulder and have a snack while you admire the endless views to the west.
Part of the longer Rip-Rap Loop, the Chimney Rock Hike (MP 90) can be done as a 3.5-mile out-and-back to Chimney Rock. The hike will take about 2.5 hours and is considered moderately difficult. It offers striking views of Calvary Rocks and Chimney Rock.
Another short hike in the southern section of SNP is Blackrock Summit (MP 84.8). This 1.8-mile TRACK trail with a brochure designed to help kids enjoy nature. It also ends with nice views of the Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten.
Blue Ridge Parkway
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly leg-stretcher with some educational value, check out the Mountain Farm Trail (MP 5.8). Though only a quarter mile long, visitors will find lots of information about how earlier inhabitants of the area lived and survived in the 1890s and beyond. Since the trail is close to the trailheads for Humpback Rocks and Dobie Mountain, hikers can easily extend their trip if they desire. Another all-day hike with some incredible views is the 9-mile Torry Ridge/White Rock Falls hike, which boasts a waterfall and can be accessed at the White Rock Gap overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Other nearby leg-stretcher hikes include Catoctin Loop Trail (MP 8.4) and Greenstone Trail (MP 8.8).
Dreaming of a thru hike on the Appalachian Trail? Get a taste for it by hopping on part of the 15-mile Dripping Rock-Rockfish Gap section, which can be accessed just three miles from Waynesboro and at various points south along the Parkway and north in SNP. Highlights include the Elk Mountain, Glass Hollow Overlook, and Cedar Cliffs overlooks.
Where to Hike in Waynesboro
If wind and weather is keeping you off the ridgeline, why not try a hike closer to home? The 4.5-mile out-and-back Blue Ridge Tunnel hike is an excellent choice for a colder day. Not only is it relatively flat and mostly sheltered by an old railroad bed, a mile-long portion actually stretches through the mountain and keeps a steady temperature of around 50 degrees. It gets dark inside, so make sure you have your headlamp!
It’s fun to stroll along the South River Greenway for views of the river, the mountains, and downtown Waynesboro. The flat, paved trail stretches for 1.2 miles and offers interpretive signs about wildlife, sites of interest, and more. You might even catch a glimpse of a cold-water fisherman or kayaker! Other places to stretch your legs in Waynesboro include the wooded trails in Ridgeview Park and Coyner Springs Park.
Where to Get Hiking Supplies
Wondering what gear to take on your winter hike? Rockfish Gap Outfitters can supply you with the essentials like gear, clothing, outerwear, headlamps, boots, snacks, and more, plus all kinds of expert advice.
Helpful Tips for Winter Hiking
- Watch for icy conditions on the trail.
- Dress warmly in layers.
- Stay hydrated, even if it’s cold. Bring a warm drink in a thermos.
- Cell phone service can be unreliable. Don’t hike alone, or at least let someone know where you’re going.
- Keep track of remaining daylight and carry a flashlight or headlamp.
How to Warm up After Hiking
You’ll be cold after your hike, so warm up with coffee or light fare at Farmhaus Coffee Co. or The French Press. Alternatively, you might relax with a beer and a comfy seat at Basic City Beer Co. Hungry? Fill up on Chinese food at New Ming Garden Buffet and Grill (a favorite of AT thru-hikers who stop in town) or burgers at the Tailgate Grill.