Hiking in Virginia is a regular pastime. Hundreds of hiking trails across our many state parks, national parks, and routes leading through the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains offer a never-ending supply of incredible nature options. When the sun is out, you might consider planning a family trip to enjoy Virginia’s spectacular greenery. Below, you’ll find five of the greatest hiking trails for families in Virginia to spice up any day out and about.
Scott’s Run Nature Preserve offers a natural retreat from the bustling city-center of McClean, Virginia, close to the famous shopping district, Tysons Corner. While some of the trails of Scott’s Run can be difficult, there is a moderate, family-friendly path along the river. When you park, you’ll notice two possible entrances. The first will take you to the stream while the second will lead you to the trails. Hikers should follow the trails and the signs based on their comfort level and experience. The park opens a half hour before sunrise and closes a half hour after sunset and can be reached on the Georgetown pike. Enjoy the incredible wildlife and vegetation with your family in this oasis away from urban sprawl.
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Assateague Island National Seashore shares a border with Maryland and Chincoteague Island in Virginia and offers “sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays.” National Geographic listed it as one of their “Top 10 Family-Friendly Hikes in the U.S.” This park is known for the gorgeous views, particularly of the wild ponies that still roam the island. Hike around the 1.5-mile-loop Woodland Trail on the Virginia side for a good look of the pony enclosure. Consider reading “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry in preparation for the hike and view, as it is based on a true story of one of the Assateague ponies.
The Shenandoah National Park has around 50 unique hiking trails ranging from strenuous to moderate and beginner. One of the best trails, hands down, leads to the Stony Man summit. The hike is less than a mile from the parking area but the view is phenomenal, providing clear vantage points to take in Skyland Drive and Skyland Resort. Take a picnic basket and watch the sunset go down. Perfect for romantic dates or an afternoon out with the kids.
The Cascades in Giles County, Virginia, is one of the most visited spots in the entire Commonwealth, and for good reason. The Cascade Falls are widely regarded some of the most stunning waterfalls in Virginia. The wooden stairs and platform allow visitors a closer look at the 69-foot falls. But the falls are only half of the appeal. Take the Upper Trail for aerial views of Little Stony Creek, another incredible waterway. The original 1960s trail is a work of art in and of itself for its seamless integration into the landscape. Continue along the four-mile path until you see the enormous boulder—just on the other side, the Cascades await. While the terrain can occasionally become steep, the trail is considered moderate, and is likely a good fit for families with slightly older kids.
High Bridge Trail is one of the most popular in the state. This 31-mile trail is perfect for great hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. What makes the trail ideal for families is that it is mostly flat—as it was rail bed years ago. The real attraction is the immaculate high bridge—stretching around 2,400 feet in length and 125 feet about the Appomattox River. This historic landmark will wow the whole family.