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Tour Companies Local Guided Tours Self-Guided Tours Bikepacking Routes Tour Calendar – Road Tours – Gravel Tours – MTN Bike Tours

A cycling holiday is what you make it and is a fantastic way to explore new destinations, meet new people, make new friends, and experience new cultures, foods, and drinks. There are many great places to cycle in Virginia. From the ocean to the mountains, city cycling to rural biking, gravel roads and mountain bike trails, historic towns and cities to award-winning wineries and breweries. Whatever your preferred cycling terrain and your level of expertise on a bike, Virginia has something to offer you. Your bicycle touring experience can range from single-day trips to extended travels spanning weeks or months. Whether you are looking for a guided or self-guided bikepacking, gravel, mountain, or road biking vacation, you’ll find it here.

TOUR COMPANIES

Discover the very best Virginia has to offer with the help of a knowledgeable cycling tour company. Take advantage of a local, regional or a national company, and come experience Virginia’s landscape from the ocean to the mountains, visit historical cities and towns, breweries and wineries, and take in the southern charm that makes Virginia one of the best places to ride. Virginia is  Ranked 7th  in the nation for being a “ Bicycle Friendly State ” and number one (#1) in the southern region out of 13 states by the League of American Bicyclists.

Virginia’s tour companies offer many riding options, not just on set dates, but throughout the riding season including guided and self-guided tours. While regional or national bike tour bike companies offer great experiences on specific dates. So, whether you’re interested in a unique personal experience, group ride, family outing, or corporate team-building event, come to Virginia and “Find Your Ride.”

VIRGINIA TOUR COMPANIES

Blue Ridge Bicycle Tours provides tours of the Virginia’s Blue Ridge and of the City of Charlottesville.

Burg E-Bike Tours offers E-bike tours of Skyline Drive and a scenic ride along the country roads of Shenandoah County stopping at three Virginia wineries along the way.

Lost Trail MTB offers guided mountain bike services in Roanoke and Blacksburg area to both new and seasoned riders.

Magical Mystery Bike Tours travels to several destinations throughout Virginia.  The company provides tours from the ocean to the mountains of Virginia, and provides road and gravel experiences. Bicycle tours are all-inclusive, all you have to do is pack your bike and get ready for an adventure.

Roanoke Mountain Adventures offers individual, group and custom ride experiences on mountain and gravel bikes in the Roanoke region. They also have both bicycle and E-bike rentals.

Shenandoah Mountain Touring offers individual or groups of all levels and abilities full, multi-day and specialty tours including mountain, road and gravel biking.

Take Aim Cycling provides mountain biking instruction, guided tours and shuttling services in the Shenandoah Valley region.

LOCAL GUIDED TOURS

Richmond/williamsburg region.

Basket & Bike provides tours throughout Richmond, the Capital Trail, James Town Island, as well host custom and corporate team building tours.

Kul Wheels provides E-bike tours, both one-way and round trip, along the Virginia Capital Trail with stops at eateries, plantations and a winery. They also provide hourly rentals for your use.

Williamsburg on Wheels an E-bike tour around historic landmarks in Williamsburg, Jamestown, and surrounding areas! As you glide along scenic routes, you’ll come across some of the city’s most popular attractions, parks, and restaurants. They also provide flexible E-bike rentals to get around.

Stafford County, VA

FXBG E-Bike Tour provides E-bike tours of Stafford County and travel along the Belmont and Ferry Farm Trails which include the Rappahannock River, Chatham Manor, Belmont Plantation, Town of Falmouth, Ferry Farm and several not so known sites.  

SELF-GUIDED TOURS & ROUTES

For a complete list of Trails in Virginia , visit the Resource page.

Arlington County self-guided history tour is a 26-mile self-guided tour with 13 stops along Arlington County’s bikeway, a low stress route.

Beans Bikes & Blooms (Arlington County) website has a 12-mile self-guided tour and rental information.  This is a safe 11.5-mile route taking you on trails and past several D.C. attractions.

Bike the Valley – Shenandoah Valley’s Ride Guide is a website that encourages bicycling in the Central Shenandoah Valley, and includes road, trails, gravel and MTB routes and maps covering the counties of Augusta, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge, and Rockingham; the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, and Waynesboro; and the eleven towns that lie between.

Biking in Roanoke – this site provides information on places to ride in and near the City of Roanoke; road & mountain biking, urban trails and links to guided trips, tours and other experiences.

Biking Shenandoah County  – this is an excellent site for road and mountain biking information in Shenandoah County and includes GPS route information. Shenandoah County has an abundance of cycling and outstanding scenery.

Blue Ridge Parkway Self-Guided Bike Tour – The tour our includes options for 7- or 8-day trips; on those options some days will have longer riding. Complete list of dining and accommodations, and over 100 things to do and things to see.

Map My Ride, Virginia Cycling Routes – Map My Ride has a number of cycling routes listed for many of Virginia’s localities. Download the GPS routes for your use.

Road Tested Bike Tours options abound throughout Virginia with your Road-Tested Bike Tour. You can plan your tour for any day of the year and for any number of days. Side trips off the beaten path can easily be incorporated as can rest days.

Roanoke, VA , the bike routes on this page, which was created in partnership with RIDE Solutions, have been organized by subject and include arts & culture, history, scenic views, food & drink, scavenger hunts, and nature and the environment.

Shenandoah County biking page has a complete list of Ride with GPS routes for road and mountain bike enthusiasts.

Virginia Beach Cycling and Bike Trails – there are over 200 miles of bikeways and trails. Plus, there are 23 miles of unpaved paths in 2 state parks and a federal wildlife refuge.

BIKEPACKING ROUTES

Bikepacking in Virginia will allow you to experience the Appalachian Mountains, and beautiful forests, visit historic towns, and off-the-beaten-path locations you would have missed. Virginia has some incredible bikepacking routes ranging from an overnighter to several days. If you have a passion for outdoor adventure and favor riding predominately off pavement, on gravel roads, and occasionally a little singletrack, then you are invited to “Choose Your Adventure . “ Just remember to respect your surroundings – “Leave No Trace,” and enjoy the outdoors responsibly.

Special thanks to those who took the time to develop these routes, and willingness to share their knowledge so others can enjoy the experience. Big shout-out to Virginia’s David Landis who put together the majority of the bikepacking and gravel routes and resources listed here. Please consider supporting his efforts to continue to provide regular updates to the routes as well as develop new places to ride.

Valley View Stokesville – 1 day , 49.2 miles, 100% unpaved; this is a looped route, beginning and ending in Harrisonburg, VA.  Need to park in the parking deck downtown and ask permission to leave the car overnight, they will let bikepackers if you ask. Route includes camping and places to resupply.

Slate Springs Overnighter – 1 day , 52 miles, 75% unpaved; this is a looped route through the George Washington National Forest just west of Harrisonburg, VA .

Grayson County Traverse – 2 days, 72-mile mixed-surface gravel bike route that connects the  Virginia Creeper Trail  and  New River Trail over well-maintained and remote roads featuring a variety of challenging climbs. The route follows optimal west-east gravel corridors just south of the Grayson Highlands area, in the foothills of Virginia’s highest peaks, crisscrossing the creeks that carry water from the high mountains down to the New River. This overlooked gem of Virginia presents some of the best gravel cycling in the state, mostly unridden and undiscovered.

Cyclist Guide to Bikepacking Skyline Drive – 2 days , 210 miles, 100% paved; the ride begins in Front Royal, Virginia and ends in Afton, Virginia and then you turn around and head back to Front Royal. The Southern Terminus is also the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Unlike the parkway, the National Park Service charges an entrance fee: $30 gets you unlimited access to the park for 7 days. The riding isn’t overly difficult. Most sections top out at a reasonable 6-7 percent grade. You may be climbing for a while, but nothing is “fall-over steep.”

Sky Meadow Overnighter – 2 days , 84 miles, 67% unpaved; this route takes you to Sky Meadows State Park in the foothills of the Blue Ridge in Delaplane, Virginia .

Harrisonburg-Little Dry River Loop – 2 days , 121.2 miles, 24% unpaved; This is a loop route starting Harrisonburg, VA and back and is a great overnight or big day ride. Best when water is low on Rough Run (max 7 stream crossings).

Harrisonburg/Fort Valley/Wolf Gap – 2-3 days , 130.7 miles, 42% unpaved; This is a loop route starting in Harrisonburg, VA with nice rolling hills without any crazy climbs. These are beautiful gravel roads which traverse around the edges of the Shenandoah Valley.

Grayson Gravel Circuit – 2 to 3 days , 143.4 miles, 47% unpaved; is a looped route starting at the Virginia Creeper Trail Whitetop Station Visitors Center parking lot. This mixed-surface gravel bike route that connects the Virginia Creeper Trail and New River Trail over well-maintained and remote roads featuring a variety of challenging climbs.

Grayson Gravel Long Haul – 2-3 days , 150.8 miles, 72% unpaved; this is a northward route starting in Abingdon, VA , and ending in Pulaski, VA , and runs on the Virginia Creeper Trail , Grayson Gravel Traverse , and the New River Trail .

Blue Ridge Wrangler – 3-4 days , 158 miles, 76% unpaved; this is a circumnavigation of the Glendwood-Pedlar Ranger District , in the eastern reaches of George Washington National Forest.

America’s Gravel/Loudon Loop – 3 – 4 days , 193.6 miles, 58% unpaved; Only 20% of the entire route is on paved roads shared with cars. Explore centuries-old dirt roads, canalways and rail corridors west of Washington DC along the Potomac River and into northern Virginia which date back more than 250 years. This four-day journey leaves the nation’s capital along the famous Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) canal towpath to enter Loudoun County. You’ll return to DC on the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) paved rail trail to finish the loop back at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall.

DC/Harrisonburg 215 – 3-4 days , 213.3 miles, 54% unpaved; starting in DC and ending in Harrisonburg, VA . The ride progresses from flatter rail trails leaving the capital to cross the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah River, following the western edge of the Shenandoah Valley along the George Washington National Forest to Harrisonburg, VA .

Rockstar Gravel – 4-5 days , 255.4 miles, 48% unpaved; this is a classic ride heading south from Harrisonburg, VA to Roanoke, VA .  You can overnight at  Braley Pond ,  Douthat State Park  and  Eagle Rock .

Hotchkiss South Valley Ultra Endurance – 4-5 days , 262.3 miles, 31% unpaved; this looped route starts and ends in Buena Vista, VA. This is a challenging route with over 25,000 feet of climbing and an average grade of 12.9%.

Blacksburg Bikepacking Bonanza – 4-5 days , 274.4 miles, 65% unpaved, 5% is bikepath. The remaining paved roads are mostly quiet back roads. This is a loop route begins and returns Blacksburg, VA , home to Virginia Tech.

The Sods Circuit – 4-5 days , 287.8 miles, 45% unpaved; This loop route starts and ends in Harrisonburg, VA . Items in this list include lodging (hotel, hostel, cabin, campground, primitive campsite), food (restaurant, country store, supermarket, gas station/ convenience store) and water (public taps, springs or natural water source requiring treatment). Picnic and rest areas are also noted, as well as some points of interest.

Blue Ridge Hills & Hollows – 4-6 days , is a gravel bikepacking loop connects eight county memorials via a 300-mile mixed-surface cycling route around Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. The multi-day route connects to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, and can be approached from numerous starting points for camping and hotel-based itineraries.

Breakdown Bikepacking Route – 4-7 days, 35% unpaved; This route explores the vastness of the Pine Mountain region starting at Breaks Interstate Park , Breaks, VA   home to the Breaks Canyon, which is one of the deepest gorges east of the Mississippi River.  Then heading off west towards the sunset and the infamous Wardaddy Loop . Traversing the Grand Canyon of the South, it is a showcase of the best these rugged and historic Appalachian Mountains has to offer. Superb mountain-line scenery tracing the Virginia/Kentucky border and a tradition of pure, hard adventure.

DC/Harrisonburg 400 Loop – 5-7 days , 397.7 miles, 41% unpaved; Starts at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. to Harrisonburg, VA , and loops back to the Lincoln Memorial. Items in this list include lodging (hotel, hostel, cabin, campground, primitive campsite), food (restaurant, country store, supermarket, gas station/convenience store) and water (public taps, springs or natural water source requiring treatment). Picnic and rest areas are also noted, as well as some points of interest.

AML 400 – 6-7 days , 403.3 miles, 29% unpaved; This looped route starts and ends in Blacksburg, VA, and traverses into West Virginia though hills, valleys and several scenic small towns as well as forests and parks including Watoga State Park , Seneca State Forest , and the Monongahela National Forest .

TransVirginia Mountain 565 – 7-9 days , 565.5 miles, 60% unpaved, rail trail and pave; Starts at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC and travels south to Damascus, VA . Items in this list include lodging (hotel, hostel, cabin, campground, primitive campsite), food (restaurant, country store, supermarket, gas station/convenience store) and water (public taps, springs or natural water source requiring treatment). Picnic and rest areas are also noted, as well as some points of interest.

TransVirginia Valley 535 – 7-9 days , 536.8 miles, 40% unpaved, rail trail and pave; begins at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC and travels south to Damascus, VA . Items in this list include lodging (hotel, hostel, cabin, campground, primitive campsite), food (restaurant, country store, supermarket, gas station/convenience store) and water (public taps, springs or natural water source requiring treatment). Picnic and rest areas are also noted, as well as some points of interest.

VA/WV Gravel Bikepacking Route Collection –  a collection maintained by David Landis , and currently includes 17 routes.

Basket Bike Tours – Upper Shirley Vineyards

Shenandoah county wine tour – sunday’s, 9/11 national memorial trail bike tour, crozet wine tour (select dates only), shenandoah county wine tour – saturday’s, bike virginia – two valleys adventure 2024, grayson packin’ n’ grinnin’ bikepacking – 2 days, discover virginia’s blue ridge, bicycling the eastern shore of virginia, 22nd annual tour de skyline: 2 days of cycling skyline drive, ride the ridge bicycle tour, virginia blue ridge, shenandoah valley 4-day bike tour in virginia’s wine country & culinary cradle, blue ridge parkway bike tour, fall blue ridge parkway tour, southern shenandoah, shenandoah & skyline drive 6-day bike tour, 6-day colonial virginia tour, cycling virginia’s historic triangle tour, fall foliage tour 1, fall foliage tour 2, gravel tours, trek travel – shenandoah valley gravel bike tour (offered weekly), mtn bike tours.

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trek travel virginia

6 Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

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6 Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia virginia, travel, north-america, backpacking

Looking to go backpacking in Virginia? Then you’re in luck because Virginia is underrated when it comes to the outdoors , hiking, and backpacking, in my opinion… I know I certainly didn’t consider it to be a great place for hiking and backpacking when I first moved to Washington, D.C.

But I’m so glad I was wrong .

I’ve explored many, many trails in Virginia (with the exception of the far south), leading organized backpacking groups for many years, and these are what I would consider to be the six best overnight hikes in Virginia .

All of these can be shortened into day-hikes if that’s more your style.

At the end of the article, you’ll find the location of each of these backpacking trips in Virginia mapped out across the state .

Without further ado, here’s what I would consider being among the best hikes in Virginia:

#6 White Oak Canyon, Stony Man, and Old Rag – 19 Miles

White Oak Canyon, Stony Man, and Old Rag - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

Shenandoah National Park is the most famous outdoors destination in Virginia and sees quite a lot of crowds, owing to the fact that it is probably the best backpacking near DC.

And the crowds are especially heavy on the Old Rag day hike which sees throngs of people make their way to the top of this incredible view.

But you can beat the crowds if you make an overnighter out of the trip, and you also get to take in the stunning falls in White Oak Canyon and the view atop Stony Man.

White Oak Canyon, Stony Man, and Old Rag - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

Start the hike by ascending White Oak Canyon to connect with the Appalachian Trail northbound where you’ll reach Stony Man.

Near the Hot Short Mountain Trail, you can overnight camp before getting an early (pre-dawn) start for the climb up Old Rag.

White Oak Canyon, Stony Man, and Old Rag - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

You’re sure to beat the crowds to the top and have sunrise over the East Coast all to yourself…

Read my trip report for the map and details about the hike.

#5 Cold Mountain and Mount Pleasant – 18 Miles

Cold Mountain and Mount Pleasant - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

Among my favorite Virginia backpacking trips in the state, with rolling hills, awesome vistas, and one of the coolest campsites around.

The hike starts out ascending the Appalachian Trail up Cold Mountain before breaking off to for Mount Pleasant.

Cold Mountain and Mount Pleasant - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

Cold Mountain includes stunning high mountain meadows and open balds with 360 views of the surround countryside.

The campsite at Mount Pleasant offers views that look straight into forest wilderness, something almost unheard of in the region where you can usually see civilization.

Cold Mountain and Mount Pleasant - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

A moderate and fun overnight hike.

See the details on Hiking Upward for Cold Mountain and Mount Pleasant (combine them).

#4 Duncan and Strickler Knob – 19 Miles

Duncan and Strickler Knob - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

Duncan and Strickler Knob offers stunning vistas from the central portion of the Massanutten Mountains in the George Washington National Forest.

The central loop — also known as the Wil Kohlbrenner Memorial Circuit — covers about 13 miles. But I recommend hiking in from the south via the Massanutten Connector Trail, which makes it 19 miles total when you include the out and backs to both knobs.

Duncan and Strickler Knob - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

The hike takes you up the ridiculously steep Waterfall Mountain 800 vertical feet in just half a mile, then includes beautiful ridge walking along Kern Mountain.

This trip can be done as an easy overnight hike with plenty of camping along the base of Duncan Knob or even down beside the Massanutten River.

Duncan and Strickler Knob - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

On the second day, you hit Strickler Knob, perhaps the highlight of the route, which offers a full 360-degree view from a funky rock outcropping.

See the guest post I did for Section Hiker with full details or you can find the map and more photos here .

#3 Trout Run Valley – 27 Miles

Trout Run Valley - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

A circumnavigation of Trout Run Valley was my very first time backpacking in Virginia. It remains one of my all-time favorites, so there’s no way I could leave it off this list of the best hikes in Virginia.

This trip includes great views and ridgeline walking through as you complete a circular hike with a valley at the center.

Trout Run Valley - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

What I love about this hike, beyond the foliage and views, is that you see where you are going and you can see how far you’ve come at all times.

There are high points and vistas include Tibbett Knob, Halfmoon Mountain, and Big Schloss.

Trout Run Valley - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

Map and details available from MidAtlanticHikes.com .

Read more from one of my trip reports of Trout Run Valley here .

#2 Three Ridges – 15 Miles

Three Ridges - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

Three Ridges is a Virginia backpacking trip I have repeated over and over again . I loved it that much.

This hike offers vista after vista and includes some cool waterfalls and creeks.

Don’t let the 15 miles fool you, this is a tough hike that climbs more than 4,000 feet up a prominent, triple peak.

If you’re carrying a heavy pack or new to the world of backpacking, this climb will kick your butt. It certainly did mine, the first time.

Three Ridges - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

But even on repeated visits after getting in better shape and lightening pack, I still found it to be a fun and worthy challenge.

Camping out at the summit of Three Ridges with friends is among my most cherished nights out on the trail in Virginia.

Don’t forget to visit the Devil’s Backbone brewery after the hike.

Maps and more details can be found from Hiking Upward .

#1 The Triple Crown – 37 Miles

The Triple Crown - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

This is the cream of the crop for backpacking in Virginia, which includes three of the most iconic vistas along the Appalachian Trail — McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, and Dragon’s Tooth, which easily makes it one of the best hikes in Virginia.

This backpacking trip begins near Roanoke, Virginia in the south of the state.

To do all three vistas, you will need to cover 37 miles in one of the most beautiful loops in the country.

Sadly, when we were there, McAfee Knob was totally fogged in and we missed the best view of all. But Dragon’s Tooth made up for it.

The Triple Crown - Six Best Places to Go Backpacking in Virginia

Most parties can break this hike up into a three-night outing.

You should be a fit and experienced backpacker (with a light pack) before you attempt to conquer Virginia’s famed Triple Crown.

For more information or maps, see my detailed article about the Virginia Triple Crown .

Backpacking in Virginia Trail Map

Need trail maps or gear? REI.com has everything you might need.

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How heavy/light was your load when you climbed #1 & #2?

I’ve lightened my backpack without food down to around 12 lbs and I’m really not looking to go too ultralight. Is it possible?

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My base weight was somewhere around there too. I was light but not in the ultralight threshold of below 10 lbs. But honestly, the difference between 15/12/10 pounds is pretty negligible for a weekend trip like this. It sounds to me like you will be fine if that’s your current weight without food and water.

I feel really excited about finding this page and all your recommendations on hikes. My son is now into it as I was as a kid being he’s 14 now so off we go. Any more details you could offer via email on Duncan Strickler would be appreciated.

Wow, fantastic info, thank you for taking the time to put it out there. I’m headed to Switzerland with friends in a couple months to walk the Haute Route and my wife and I need a couple hikes to get into shape. We’re veteran backpackers and just need a couple weekenders to get ready. We live in Ohio and happen to be headed to a wedding near Baltimore so I google hikes around DC and your site stood out. Your “6 hikes” exactly what I was looking for! I think I’ll try Old Rag or Three Ridges. The Triple Crown sounds great too and I’ll try to do that one around July 4th (we have another reason to be out that way). Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to share this, it’s much appreciated. (BTW you might consider the Haute Route Hiker’s version, I think you’d like)

Thanks SJ! Glad you enjoyed the post. You can’t go wrong with either Old Rag or Three Ridges — they are beautiful hikes, but I’m sure nothing compared to the Haute Route! I’d love to get over to Europe and do some hiking one of these days… Best of luck!

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This is great! Some of these I have done and some I plan to do including the Triple Crown this spring/summer!

Awesome! Glad to hear you liked the post, I’m sure you’ll absolutely love the Triple Crown. It’s an incredible hike!

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The Virginia Triple Crown: 34 Iconic Miles of AT Backpacking

Dragon’s Tooth. McAfee Knob. Tinker Cliffs. Hike all three of these spectacular destinations along the Virginia Appalachian Trail to complete the coveted Virginia Triple Crown (aka the Roanoke Triple Crown).

The terrain is rugged, but you’ll be rewarded with lush forests, cool streams, pastoral scenery, and iconic AT viewpoints.

This hike is the perfect length for a long weekend adventure if you begin at VA 620 and end 34 miles north at the Daleville, VA Park and Ride. Because there’s more than one way to skin a cat, we’ll also outline a few alternate itineraries at the end of the post for day hikers and longer section hikers.

  • Read next – The Appalachian Trail State by State Overview: Highlights, Hiker Tips, Maps, and More.

trek travel virginia

How to Hike the Virginia Triple Crown: At a Glance

Length: 33.6 miles Elevation Gain/Loss (ft.): 6700/7400 Starting Point: VA 620 Trout Creek Trailhead (37.390438, -80.196098) Ending Point: Hwy 220Park and Ride, Daleville, VA (37.391499), -79.905996) Difficulty: Moderate Navigation: The AT Guide by David “AWOL” Miller , Guthook Guides (smartphone app) Appalachian Trail Southern Virginia section

Quick Navigation

Getting There Best Direction to Hike Highlights Gear Suggestions The Nature Camping/Water/Itinerary Alternate Itineraries: Day Hikes and Longer Sections Conditions / When to Hike Additional Resources

Parking and Transportation

There’s technically a way to complete the Triple Crown as a loop hike, but it involves many miles on steep, rugged, little-used side trails with limited views. We think it makes more sense to complete this trek as a point-to-point journey, shuttling between the two trailheads.

If you have access to multiple vehicles, this should be a cinch. Otherwise, you leave your car at the Daleville Park and Ride (37.391499), -79.905996) and pay one of the many shuttles serving this region of the AT to ferry you down to your starting point, the Trout Creek trailhead off VA 620 (37.390438, -80.196098). (We find it’s always better to leave your car at the endpoint and hike back to it—that way, you can jump in the car and drive off and won’t have to worry about logistics, timing, or cell service when you finish the trek).

Return to top.

Best Direction to Hike

You can hike the Virginia Triple Crown northbound or southbound. We recommend northbound for the following reasons:

  • The Daleville Park and Ride is likely the safer option for leaving a car overnight as it’s in a well-trafficked area. It’s also right off the highway, so easier to navigate to for most people.
  • Most hikers travel northbound. If you travel in the same direction as most everyone else, you won’t cross as many people going the opposite direction and will likely enjoy more solitude during the day while hiking.
  • Less climbing, more descending heading north. You will experience several steep, severe descents going this way (Dragon’s Tooth stands out as an example). If you have knee problems, you may prefer going south and taking these severe grades uphill.

trek travel virginia

Dragon’s Tooth. Photo via .

Dragon’s Tooth | Mile 702.3: Approached from the south, you’ll have a long, six-mile, rolling climb from Trout Creek trailhead to the summit. There, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping pastoral views and an opportunity to climb the eponymous Tooth, a dramatic stone monolith at the very top. Descending the mountain’s north side, you’ll encounter about three-quarters of a mile of technical, rocky trail. You’ll have to do a significant amount of rock scrambling, shimmy along narrow ledges, and stow your trekking poles to make use of rebar handholds in places. This stretch is a lot of fun as long as you’re prepared for it.

McAfee Knob | Mile 714.2: This distinctive rocky outcropping is one of the most iconic spots on the Appalachian Trail. In fact, it’s the most-photographed location on the entire 2,193-mile AT. It’s pretty awesome to stand out on the jutting rock ledge with the farm-and-woodland patchwork of the valley bottom some 1400 feet below. Tinker Cliffs is visible to the east as a dark smudge near the high point of a rolling ridge in the foreground.

  • Read next – Appalachian Trail State Profile: Virginia.

hike the virginia triple crown

A sliver of the view from Tinker Cliffs.

Tinker Cliffs | Mile 719.3: Enjoy continuous, stunning, 180-degree views during an easy half-mile stroll along Tinker Cliffs. On one side, you’ll see rocky ledges with westerly views of Catawba Valley (including a glimpse of McAfee Knob). On the other side of the trail is open, grassy woodland. Tinker Cliffs is an ideal place to watch the sunset.

Hay Rock | Mile 726.3: After enjoying multiple dramatic vantage points of Catawba Valley from each of the three Triple Crown points, change up your perspective with a glimpse of Corvin’s Cove Reservoir and Brushy Mountain from Hay Rock. There’s a short spur trail that leads to the best vantage point.

Three Li’l Pigs | Mile 730.3: There’s nothing quite like a big meal after a long hike. After finishing your trek, reward yourself with a pulled pork sandwich at Three Li’l Pigs. Daleville’s local barbecue joint is just a quarter-mile off-trail near the Kroger.

Gear Suggestions

A quality headlamp is a must for this hike, particularly if you plan to catch sunrises and/or sunsets from any of the Triple Crown spots. Camping isn’t allowed at Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee, or Tinker Cliffs, so you’ll be hiking in the dark at some point to get there for the big show. We like the Petzl Actik Core because it’s bright and has plenty of battery life for night hiking, but you can also check out our picks for the best backpacking headlamps of the year for some other great options.

  • Read next: 12 Reasons You’ll Love (and Hate) Night Hiking.

Also, be sure to bring adequate sun and bug protection. Mosquitos and ticks (including Lyme disease-bearing deer ticks) are abundant in the area. The trail can be grassy and overgrown in places, so in addition to bug spray for your skin, you may want to wear long pants and treat your shoes and clothing with permethrin before hiking.

Although the trail is primarily a green tunnel, the canopy is pretty open in places, and there are numerous rocky viewpoints in full sun, so sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are a must. Not sun-related, but a foam sit pad for hanging out on said outcroppings and enjoying the view is also really lovely.

Other than that, your standard multi-night packing list will be adequate for this trek. Check out our Appalachian Trail Gear List if you’re unsure what to bring.

hike the virginia triple crown

Corvin’s Cove seen from Hay Rock overlook. Mountain laurel blooms in the foreground.

Depending on the season, you’ll be treated to a range of brilliant wildflowers in this section. These include trillium, several species of aster, lady’s slippers, mountain laurel, and rhododendron. Sassafras is also abundant in the herb layer (rub the leaves to get a whiff of root beer or Froot Loops).

American chestnut sprouts can be seen in the undergrowth, clonal remnants of the iconic trees that once dominated Appalachian forests before being wiped out by blight in the early twentieth century. Meanwhile, an abundance of maples in the canopy provides shade and beautiful fall colors late in the year. Mid-October through early November is typically the best time for leaf peeping in this region.

In less exciting news, poison ivy thrives in this area, particularly in late spring and early summer. Keep your eyes peeled for hairy vines and leaves of three. Note that black bears are quite active in this area and have been known to enter campsites, so (as always) be sure to store your food and smellable items properly. Catawba, Campbell, and Lamberts Meadow shelters all have bear lockers.

Camping and Water Sources

Stealth camping is forbidden along most of this route because it’s such a high-use area. This restriction expressly includes the tops of Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee, and Tinker Cliffs. You’ll need to camp only in designated sites between VA 624 and Daleville.

hike the virginia triple crown

Campbell Shelter is just past McAfee Knob and has space for many tents.

Because planning is confusing, we’ve detailed our recommended itinerary below. This plan keeps the mileage to a leisurely 7-10 per day, places you at campsites with water sources each night, and includes the option to take sunrise at McAfee Knob and sunset at Tinker Cliffs on Day Three.

Note: If you arrive at the Trout Creek trailhead late in the day, Pickle Branch Shelter is just 1.2 miles in and has water.

Suggested Itinerary

trek travel virginia

When in doubt, follow the white blazes!

Fill up your water at mile 698.2 (last water for seven miles—don’t miss it!), hike up and over Dragon’s Tooth, and stay the night at Four Pines Hostel. This option keeps the mileage reasonable for the first day and avoids the necessity of hauling tons of water to a dry campsite.

The hostel is accessible via a half-mile road walk from mile 704.5. Altogether, it’s an 8.3-mile day (including the road walk). We recommend calling ahead to confirm that the hostel has availability.

Hike to Campbell Shelter at mile 714.9. This is an 11.1-mile day including the walk back from Four Pines. There’s ample tenting here, and the Pig Farm campsite at mile 714.8 provides even more space to set up. The spring at this site is reliable. This shelter is less than three-quarters of a mile north of McAfee Knob. This is an ideal place to camp if you want to catch the sunrise the following morning (highly recommended).

Day 3 is a 7.4-mile day . From Campbell Shelter, retrace your steps for 0.7 miles to McAfee Knob for sunrise. Then, continue north past Tinker Cliffs to Lamberts Meadow Shelter (mile 721). If you’re comfortable with night hiking, you can spend the afternoon at Tinker Cliffs (mile 719.3 – roughly mile 719.8), catch the sunset, and night hike down to the shelter area.

There is space for many tents at Lamberts Meadow (as well as a reliable, gushing stream). Still, you may not want to wait until after dark to set up if you’re hiking during a busy time. There’s nothing quite like getting to your intended campsite only to find there’s no room left to set up.

From Lamberts Meadow, you have just nine more (mostly downhill) miles to Daleville and the end of your hike. You’ll get pretty views at a series of power line crossings. However, be aware that this section can be hot and sunny. There’s no water until basically the very end of the hike, so fill up before you leave camp. Grab a cold beer at the Three Li’l Pigs in Daleville at the end to quench your thirst.

Alternate Itineraries

Day hike the virginia triple crown.

Dragon’s Tooth: Park at the Dragon’s Tooth trailhead on VA 311 (37.378620, -80.156082). Follow the blue-blazed Dragon’s Tooth Trail 1.5 miles to link up with the AT at Lost Spectacles Gap. Turn right and follow the white blazes up a steep, technical, 0.7-mile rock scramble to the top of Cove Mountain. A 0.1-mile spur trail will take you to Dragon’s Tooth from there. The total hike is 4.6 miles. You’ll gain 750 feet on the Dragon’s Tooth trail and a further 400 between Lost Spectacles Gap and the Tooth.

You can change up the scenery on the way back by continuing north on the AT past Lost Spectacles Gap. One and a quarter miles later, turn left on the Boy Scout Trail. The Boy Scout Trail meets the Dragon’s Tooth Trail 0.3 miles later. Hang a right and head down the remaining quarter-mile to the parking area. The total length of the hike is a hair longer at 4.8 miles when you do it this way.

McAfee Knob: Park at the trailhead on VA 311 (37.380196, -80.089569). Try to get there early, especially on weekends and holidays, as the lot can fill up quickly. Cross the road to head north on the AT for 3.7 miles to reach McAfee Knob, gaining 1,00 feet along the way. The AT is rocky and, at times, steep on this stretch. A quarter-mile into the hike, you have the option to bear left on a fire road. This gentler, smoother alternate parallels the AT for two miles. The fire road links back up with the AT 1.3 miles below the summit.

There is limited access to water on this route. Both shelters (accessible from the trail but not the fire road) have springs, though they sometimes dry up in summer. There’s also a small, intermittent stream a few tenths north of where the fire road rejoins the AT. The round-trip hike is 7.4 miles.

Tinker Cliffs: Park at the Andy Layne Trailhead on Catawba Rd. (37.457569, -80.017159). Head up the steep, 2.8-mile blue-blazed trail to meet the AT at Scorched Earth Gap. Then, hang a right to travel southbound on the AT for half a mile to access the Cliffs. Enjoy the easy, half-mile stroll along the ledges before retracing your steps back to the parking area. The round trip, including the Cliff walk, is seven and a half miles.

You’ll gain a thousand feet of elevation climbing the Andy Layne Trail to Scorched Earth Gap and another 400 feet from there to the start of Tinker Cliffs.

Make the Hike Longer

hike the virginia triple crown

Blue Ridge Parkway crossing at mile 744.7.

Instead of starting at the Trout Creek Trailhead, start 20 miles south at the VA 42 AT crossing (mile 677.7). And instead of ending in Daleville, continue on another 28 miles to Jennings Creek at mile 758.5. Middle Creek Campground is a couple of miles up the road from the Jennings Creek trail crossing. You can stash your vehicle there safely for $5/night. Also—just putting it out there—they have burgers and milkshakes at the camp store.

Highlights of the Extended Version

  • The stately Keffer Oak (mile 678.9), the largest oak tree on the southern half of the AT.
  • The Eastern Continental Divide between Atlantic Ocean drainage and Gulf of Mexico drainage (mile 685.2).
  • The Audie Murphy Monument (mile 693), the site where America’s most decorated WWII veteran, Audie Murphy, died in a plane crash.
  • Multiple gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks. The first crossing is at mile 744.7 and there are five subsequent crossings.
  • Swimming hole at Jennings Creek. Just off the gravel parking lot, there’s access to a deep swimming hole beneath the bridge. It’s a perfect place to cool off and celebrate the end of your hike.

Weather / When to Hike

hike the virginia triple crown

McAfee Knob in winter. Photo via Eloise Robbins.

Timing is everything. You can hike this trail year-round, but there are a few things to note about conditions in each season. No matter when you head out, always bring rain gear and extra layers.

Winter: Best for maximum solitude and numerous peekaboo views through the leafless trees, but bring warm clothing and microspikes. Be EXTREMELY cautious of slick ice. Particularly on the northbound descent from Dragon’s Tooth and the rock ledges at McAfee and Tinker Cliffs.

Spring: Especially late April-mid-May, when you can see blooms including trillium, rhododendron, and mountain laurel. Be aware that this is a high-use time. The thru-hiking bubble is typically passing through the area during these weeks. So along with lovely flowers, you’ll have to contend with crowded campsites, overworked privies, and a general lack of solitude. In April, the weather can range from late-season snowstorms to unbearable heat waves. Best to be prepared for anything.

trek travel virginia

Rhododendron blooms in late May.

Summer: Be aware that it gets VERY hot and humid. Many water sources can dry up around this time, so plan ahead. Try to hike in the early mornings and avoid the heat of the afternoon. Carry plenty of water at all times. You’ll definitely want rain gear but probably won’t need many warm layers. Poison ivy is in full swing by now, so tread carefully—especially around trailheads and other woodland edge habitats.

Fall: Who doesn’t love a little crisp fall hiking? The weather typically cools down in this region by mid-October, and color change starts in November. Late-autumn hikers will be rewarded by a spectacular color change, largely thanks to the abundance of maples in the canopy. Some water sources will already have dried up in the heat of the summer, so be prepared for longer water carries. Nights and early mornings can turn chilly by this time of year.

Closing Thoughts

The Virginia Triple Crown hike is among the state’s premier backpacking destinations. No matter how (or when) you choose to hike it, you’re sure to have a great time. The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club maintains this section. Be sure to check out their site for more information when planning your trip.

Additional resources:

  • Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club
  • Hiking the Triple Crown of Virginia
  • To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy

All mileages are from the Guthook Guides Appalachian Trail: Southern Virginia map.

Featured image: Graphic design by Stephanie Ausfresser . Photo by Kristen Fielder .

trek travel virginia

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To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Kelly Floro

Oh hey there! I'm Ibex, managing editor of this site. I mostly spend my spare time scheming new adventures and inadvertently setting my hair on fire while cooking. Thru-hikes: Appalachian Trail 2018 | Wonderland Trail 2019 | Colorado Trail 2020 + 2021 | Wind River High Route 2022 | Pyrenean Haute Route 2023

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Go Hike Virginia

Go Hike Virginia

St. Mary's Falls Hike in Virginia's St. Mary's Wilderness

24 Bucket List Hikes in Virginia for 2024

Many of us got outside a lot in 2023. We got a taste of Virginia’s hiking trails and we liked what we saw. We’re so ready for more in 2024.

Thankfully, there are gram-worthy hikes aplenty in Virginia that lead to curious sand caves, cascading waterfalls, panoramic peaks and cool swimming holes.

Mount Rogers | Appalachian Trail | Hikes in Virginia

As each of us continue our quests to #optoutside, as they say, here are 24 hikes worthy of any hiker’s bucket list. Even better, they’re all right here in Virginia.

Table of Contents

Best Hikes in Virginia 

Hit the trails, friends. There’s no better time than today to start checking off bucket list hikes. Breathe in the fresh air. Take in the scenic vistas. Savor a sunset or two.

#1:  The Great Channels (Rosedale)

Great Channels of Virginia

The 6.6-mile hike to the Great Channels along the Brumley Mountain Trail in Russell County is a popular one, leading to a maze of sandstone crevices.

Plan to duck, squeeze, climb and crawl with child-like curiosity as you explore this 20-acre labyrinth set atop Clinch Mountain within Channels Natural Area Preserve.

#2:  Devil’s Bathtub (Fort Blackmore)

Crystal clear Devil's Bathtub swimming hole in Southwest Virginia

The Devil’s Bathtub hike is well-known, even beyond state lines. With a name like Devil’s Bathtub, it’s hard not to inspire genuine curiosity.

A gorgeous waterfall and a crystal-clear basin lure hikers in for a swim. You’ll find two rope swings, as well as the bathtub itself. At least, a bathtub-shaped basin.

#3:  Sharp Top  (Bedford)

trek travel virginia

The 3.3-mile out-and-back hike wows with 360-degree vistas from Sharp Top. Even better, there are stone walkways, stairs and terraces at the summit.

There’s even a stone shelter that was once a restaurant in the 1950’s and 1960’s at the top of what was once thought to be Virginia’s highest peak.

#4:  Crabtree Falls (Montebello)

trek travel virginia

This waterfall tops them all at a height of 1,214 feet tall. Crabtree Falls puts on a good show too thanks to five tumbling cascades along burbling Crabtree Creek.

It’s literally as tall as an actual skyscraper. This view-packed hike will put a smile on your face. If you’ve got it in you, hike past the falls to Spy Rock or The Priest .

#5: Roaring Run Falls (Eagle Rock)

trek travel virginia

This short and sweet 1.7-mile waterfall hike at Roaring Run Furnace Day Use Area is a rewarding hike that can be completed (and loved) by all levels of hikers.

The trail guides visitors alongside cascading Roaring Run all the way to the falls. Enjoy a history lesson at the historic iron furnace that dates back to the 1800’s.

#6: McAfee Knob (Catawba)

McAfee Knob

It’s a steady climb over four miles to reach McAfee Knob. However, you will be beyond wowed by views of Catawba Valley, Roanoke Valley and North Mountain.

There is plenty of space to take a seat, though the much-photographed protruding McAfee Knob is toward the front of the rocky cliffs.

#7: Cascades Falls (Pembroke)

trek travel virginia

For those who love  waterfall hikes , put the hike to 66-foot-tall Cascades Falls on your list of must-do hikes. If time permits, continue on to Barney’s Wall.

The Cascades National Recreational Trail is a short drive from Mountain Lake Lodge (aka the lodge from Dirty Dancing ). Sunset from Bald Knob is a must.

#8: Bearfence Rock Scramble (Elkton)

trek travel virginia

Reaching the summit of Bearfence Mountain by way of the Bearfence Loop Trail at Shenandoah National Park is worthy of a spot on any hiker’s bucket list.

On a clear day, the far-reaching 360-degree views are beyond tremendous. This hike clocks in at just 0.85-miles, but don’t underestimate the rock scramble.

#9: Tinker Cliffs   (Troutville)

Tinker Cliffs Views

The views from the rocky Tinker Cliffs  across the Catawba Valley and Roanoke Valley are among the most beautiful in Virginia.

An 8.1-mile out-and-back hike on the Andy Layne Trail and Appalachian Trail is the most straightforward way to reach, but there are also lots and lots of steps.

#10: Old Rag (Etlan)

Old Rag Hike | Hiking Old Rag | Old Rag Summit Views

In 2019, Outside magazine named this 9.4-mile loop hike among the 25 best hikes in the world . Not even just in Virginia or in the United States. The whole world.

The hike to the top of Old Rag is a magnet for hikers, so do this one mid-week or in winter (or both). As of March 2022, a day-use permit is required for this hike.

#11: Molly’s Knob (Marion)

Molly's Knob Benches

Hiking to Molly’s Knob deserves a spot on your hiking bucket list, but it’s not for the faint of heart thanks to an elevation increase of 200+ feet in the last 0.2-mile.

This hike really makes you earn the payoff views. When you reach Molly’s Knob, two wooden benches welcome worthy hikers who have made it to the top.

#12: Humpback Rocks  (Nellysford)

trek travel virginia

Whether you take on Humpback Rocks as a 4.3-mile loop or a 2.0-mile out-and-back hike, you’re guaranteed to be stunned by 360-degree views at the summit.

The ascent is not for the faint of heart, but thankfully a handful of benches and a wooden staircase ease the trek to the very top where vistas are plentiful.

#13: Mary’s Rock (Sperryville)

Marys Rock-Summit View

The popular Mary’s Rock hike along the iconic Appalachian Trail wows at the rocky summit with breathtaking views across the Shenandoah Valley.

There are two ways to reach the top, including the 2.7-mile hike that starts from the Meadow Spring parking area and wows with remains of an old stone chimney.

#14: Wilburn Ridge (Mouth of Wilson)

Mount Rogers Ponies

See the free-roaming wild ponies at Grayson Highlands State Park, as well as the gorgeous landscape of grassy balds, mountain peaks and alpine meadows.

The 2.3-mile Massie Gap and Wilburn Ridge Loop is popular, but so is the 4.4-mile hike to Wilburn Ridge on the Appalachian Trail. 

#15: Star Trail (Roanoke)

Roanoke Star-Mill Mountain Star

At 100 feet tall, the Roanoke Star earned the distinction of the largest man-made star. The iconic steel star has been welcoming visitors since late-1949.

This 3.3-mile out-and-back hike at Mill Mountain Park allows you to see the star in all its glory. Some call the Roanoke Star the Hollywood Sign of the East Coast.

#16: Devil’s Marbleyard (Natural Bridge)

trek travel virginia

The 4.0-mile out-and-back hike across eight acres of massive boulders at Devil’s Marbleyard does not disappoint, but be prepared to give this one your all.

This super-size rock scramble was most likely created many years ago by frost wedging, when water froze and broke large rocks down over time.

#17: Sand Cave (Ewing)

Sand Cave in Ewing, VA

Sand Cave was once a massive rock. Over many, many years, wind eroded the sandstone to create the 250-foot-wide half-dome Sand Cave.

Inside, an acre of soft, beach-like sand awaits the driven few that have chosen to hike to Sand Cave. The White Rocks overlook is also part of this 8.1-mile hike.

#18:  Blue Ridge Tunnel (Afton)

trek travel virginia

It’s a must to add the new “Coolest Hike in Virginia” to your bucket list. The 2.25-mile trail (one-way) goes right through a historic railroad tunnel from the 1850’s.

RVA Hiker Girl came, saw and conquered this hike and racked up more than 22,000 views on YouTube with her video diary showcasing this unique hike.

#19: Mount Pleasant  (Amherst)

Mount Pleasant

The 6.5-mile Mount Pleasant  hike is completely stunning. As you near the top, you’ll realize there are two summits, East and West.

Both have rocky outcrops that are ideal for reveling in sensational views. The west side really puts on a show with an incredibly vibrant sunset.

#20:  Dragon’s Tooth (Catawba)

trek travel virginia

For Dragon’s Tooth, you must tackle steep steps and areas where you feel like you are scaling the side of Cove Mountain, even iron bars to climb rock faces.

You will need full access to hands, feet, elbows, toes, fingers and knees. Continue the climb to the top of the 35-foot-tall rock spire for scenic views.

#21:  Blackrock Summit (Grottoes)

Blackrock Summit

Blackrock Summit at Shenandoah National Park is an easy hike to love. It’s also a plain easy hike, and one that wows with a massive field of – yes, black rocks.

Wide-open views across the Shenandoah Valley are another reason to complete this 1.8-mile hike, which includes a short stretch along the Trayfoot Mountain Trail.

#22: The Priest (Tyro)

The Priest Summit

At 4,063 feet tall, The Priest is the highest point in Nelson County, Virginia. It also requires that hikers climb more than 3,000 feet to reach the top.

The entire 9.0-mile hike is along a southbound stretch of the Appalachian Trail. At some points, you will feel the trail is unrelenting, but you will be rewarded.

#23:  Mount Rogers  (Marion)

Mount Rogers Trail

More than a few people aspire to reach the highpoint of every U.S. state, which includes Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia.

A 9.0-mile out-and-back hike from Elk Garden along the white-blazed Appalachian Trail leads to the state’s highpoint. You may even see wild ponies.

#24: St. Mary’s Falls (Vesuvius)

Person at St. Mary's Falls

Located within St. Mary’s Wilderness, the 4.7-mile out-and-back hike to tumbling St. Mary’s Falls is on the must-hike list of many hikers in Virginia. 

But first, make sure you have durable water shoes since you’ll cross the flowing St. Mary’s River five times before you reach the falls and swimming hole. 

Erin Gifford

Erin Gifford has completed more than 300 hikes in Virginia. She is also the author of three hiking guidebooks from Falcon Guides. Need help finding a hike? Check out the Trail Finder feature or send Erin an email at [email protected] .

  • ← 10 Fun Things to Do at Smith Mountain Lake in Fall
  • Wines & Hikes on the New Bottled in Bedford Craft Beverage Trail in Bedford County, Virginia →

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14 incredible places to visit in Virginia right now

Barbara Noe Kennedy

Apr 4, 2024 • 14 min read

trek travel virginia

Shenandoah Valley is a real stunner – and a perfect place to unwind © WHL / Getty Images

As far as states go, Virginia was at the front of the line when they were handing out amazing attractions. From the Chesapeake shores to the Blue Ridge peaks, this gorgeous land harbors major historic sites, up-and-coming cities, romantic valleys, pre-Revolutionary villages and wine-tasting drives .

You can slurp fresh oysters, learn about US history’s most famous figures, hike to full-circle views, search for wild horses or simply lie out on a stunning beach. How do you tackle a state like Virginia , with its abundance of remarkable sights? Don’t worry: we’ve done the hard work and whittled down the choices to these 14.

1. Shenandoah Valley 

Best for lazy weekends

An Indigenous legend describes the Shenandoah Valley  as a place where “the morning stars placed the brightest jewels from their crowns in the river," and it's truly a sight to behold. The plush, 200-mile-long valley is cradled between the rumpled peaks of the Blue Ridge to one side and the Alleghenies on the other, with the dazzling Shenandoah River meandering its length – a slow-moving ode to a stunning escape.

The best way to experience this mystical realm is simply to roam. I-81 cuts straight through, and it's pretty scenic for an interstate. But take the slower roads – Virginia Rte 11 is a good choice – and poke into little towns along the way: Luray, with its famous caverns ; New Market, site of a Civil War battle fought by Virginia Military Institute cadets; Staunton, full of splendid architecture; and Lexington, home to two universities and plenty of charming shops and galleries, are all good choices.

Check out several museums, including the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, the Virginia Quilt Museum in Harrisonburg and the wacky American Celebration on Parade in Shenandoah Caverns , where parade floats go to die. You’ll find ample wines to sip along the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail, and beers along the Beerwerks Trail.

En route, sample Virginia's abundance of outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, camping, fishing, horseback riding or simply gliding down the legendary river by kayak or canoe.

2. Shenandoah National Park

Best for 360-degree views

Straddling the Blue Ridge between Front Royal at I-66 and Rockfish Gap near I-64, Shenandoah National Park harbors dark forests, fluttery mountain laurel and splashy waterfalls. You can drive its length along the 105-mile Skyline Drive, stopping at breathtaking viewpoints over the river-laced Shenandoah Valley to one side and the rolling green Piedmont hills on the other.

It’s especially gorgeous in autumn – and given the amount of bumper-to-bumper traffic you’ll encounter, you’ll have all the time in the world to study the foliage. Spring is gorgeous too, with budding dogwood and redbud trees, plus white-tailed deer, black bears and bobcats roaming its flanks. 

But the best way to experience this national park is on foot. It has 500 miles of hiking trails, including a 104-mile section of the famed Appalachian Trail. Favorites include White Oak Canyon at mile 42.6, a 4.6-mile wander past five waterfalls; Dark Hollow Falls at mile 50.7, a 1.4-mile trek ending at a beautiful waterfall; and the 4-mile hike to Rapidan Camp at mile 52.4, with Hoover’s restored summer White House as the focal point.

The park truly hits its stride with its trails climbing to 360-degree views, and a 2.1-mile round-trip trek up Hawksbill Mountain at mile 46.7 is perhaps the best of the bunch. The 1.5-mile hike up Stony Man from mile 41.7 is another good one. You can camp backcountry or at several campgrounds, or stay overnight at one of the park lodges. 

Check off these incredibly scenic hikes in Virginia

A woman stands on a rocky outcropping overlooking fall foliage in Shenandoah National Park

3. Richmond

Best for vibrant neighborhoods

Richmond has been around a long time. Incorporated in 1742, it became Virginia’s capital in 1780 – and the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Thomas Jefferson designed the Capitol building, and Patrick Henry rattled off his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech at St John’s Church. You can’t throw a history book here without hitting a monument or museum (not that that’s a bad thing).

But today this southern city is making waves not for its past but as an up-and-comer hub, with neighborhoods bursting with gastropubs, homegrown breweries and local boutiques, and outdoor adventures on the James River to boot. Henrico has 600 local restaurants and scores of shops, hotels and historic sites, while a plethora of breweries (Veil Brewing Co., Vasen Brewing, Ardent Craft Ales, etc.) await in Scott’s Addition.

The historic African-American neighborhood of Jackson Ward, home to dancing legend Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, has art galleries, the Black History Museum & Cultural Center and tons of local shops and restaurants. And there’s more – put on your walking shoes and wander this awakening city. 

4. The Colonial Triangle

Best for history buffs

Few places offer such a wide array of places important to US history as the Colonial Triangle, where three major sites – Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown – reveal stories of the nation’s earliest days of European colonization. The historic trio are connected by the Colonial Parkway, a tree-shaded roadway ideal for biking and scenic driving.  

The desperate English struggled to survive at Jamestown, where they landed in 1607 and eked out a living. Here you can visit Historic Jamestowne , where the ruins of the original site are under archaeological excavation, and the adjacent Jamestown Settlement , a living-history museum with the reconstructed 1607 James Fort, a Native American Village and reproductions of the ships that brought colonists to these shores.

Nearby you’ll find the award-winning, 300-acre Colonial Williamsburg , a living-history museum that takes you back to the days when Williamsburg reigned as the Colonial Virginia’s capital. Historical shops, restaurants, and government buildings line reconstructed streets, where costumed interpreters break into role-playing—ask a Black soldier how he self-liberated, or the woman with the cream-white silk hat the best recipe for gingerbread.

And if that’s not enough history, nearby you also have Yorktown , where the Revolutionary War ended. The immersive American Revolution Museum at Yorktown has artifact-filled galleries and a recreated Continental Army encampment out back. And, of course, you’ll learn all about October 20, 1781, the day British and German soldiers surrendered.

5. Chincoteague

Best for horse lovers

The eponymous main town on this Eastern Shore island, Chincoteague (pronounced "shin-co-teeg") has salty, summery charm, with seafood restaurants, ice cream shops, B&Bs and beaches. But the major reason people flock here is to see the wild horses, which live on nearby Assateague Island .

No one knows exactly where they came from – some say they escaped a sinking Spanish galleon in the 17th century, others claim they descend from horses that 17th-century colonists released on the island to avoid taxation. Whatever the case, every July for the past 90-plus years, “saltwater cowboys” have gathered to round up the foals for the swim across the channel from Assateague to Chincoteague. It's an event made famous by Marguerite Henry in her 1947 children’s book, Misty of Chincoteague , and always fun to watch.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge occupies the southern portion of Assateague, and you can see the wild horses there firsthand. A 3.2-mile wildlife loop is primo for biking and walking (it’s closed to cars until 3pm), and spotting migratory birds, such as snow geese and threatened piping plover, along the way. Beaches abound as well.

Two girls walk into the water with surfboards at Virigina beach

6. Virginia Beach

Best for fun in the sun

Everyone loves a good beach, and you can’t ask for much better than sunny Virginia Beach  and its not one but two coasts: the Atlantic and the Chesapeake. Expect golden sands, lapping blue waters and plenty of room to sunbathe, play volleyball and splash in the waves. Among its best beaches are secluded Sandbridge, family-friendly Chesapeake Bay and Croatan, popular among surfers.

When you’re tired of the sand, the 3-mile Virginia Beach Boardwalk awaits, edged with casual restaurants, four oceanfront stages and vendors offering bike and surrey rentals. A separate path is great for strolling, rollerblading and biking. A year-round slate of events adds more fun in the sun, including the East Coast She-Crab Soup Classic in April, the East Coast Surfing Championship in August and the Holiday Parade at the Beach in December.

Enjoy the golden sands at these top beaches in Virginia

7. Arlington National Cemetery

Best for paying your respects

More than 400,000 stark-white tombstones stripe Arlington’s green hillsides, the burial place of veterans from the Revolutionary War to present-day conflicts. Originally the land belonged to Robert E Lee, but it became a Union cemetery after he fled to fight for the South in 1864, never to return. Today more than three million tourists pass through Arlington National Cemetery every year.

A tour begins at the visitor center, where you can pick up a map and catch a tram to visit the cemetery’s sites. (Or you can walk – be forewarned, it’s hilly!) Just up the hill is the gravesite of John F Kennedy Jr, where the 35th president lies beside his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, and his two brothers Robert and Edward; an eternal flame flickers 24/7. Nearby, stolid soldiers stand guard by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with the changing of the guard taking place around the clock in an elaborate ceremony.

All presidents are eligible to be buried here, though there are only two: JFK and William Taft. Other prominent Americans include Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, heavyweight champ Joe Louis and astronaut and senator John Glenn. In Section 27, almost 4000 formerly enslaved individuals are buried on land that was once known as Freedman’s Village, Arlington’s first free neighborhood.

On the hill above looms Lee’s former home, Arlington House . It’s been reinterpreted to tell the fuller story of the Lees and the enslaved people who built the residence and worked here.

8. Blue Ridge Parkway

Best for scenic drives

Smoky mist billows over the timeworn peaks of the Blue Ridge, an ancient range meandering from Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park . The sinewy, two-lane Blue Ridge Parkway ambles 469 miles along its length – nearly 200 miles of which are in Virginia. You have no choice but to slow down; the speed limit is 45mph, all the better for taking it all in.

Highlights include Peaks of Otter at milepost 85.6, where three shadowy peaks overlook Abbott Lake and its lodge, restaurant and historic farm; Roanoke Star atop Mill Mountain, a fun hike just off milepost 120; and historic Mabry Mill at milepost 176, a photographer’s delight. Along the way, you’ll discover a bygone world of trail-laced forests, forgotten farms and stupendous vistas.

Get behind the wheel on these scenic US road trips

9. Manassas National Battlefield

Best for Civil War history

If you’re searching for Civil War action, look no further than Virginia. As the capital of the Confederacy, located near the capital of the Union, Virginia tussled its way through more than 2000 “military events” – more than any other state in the country.

Some of the biggest battlefields are here, a top gun being Manassas National Battlefield Park (aka Bull Run), where two major battles unfolded in 1861 and again in 1862 – both Confederate wins. But it's perhaps best known for the Washingtonians who jumped in their carriages on the eve of Manassas I and brought picnics to watch the skirmish – they expected a slam-dunk victory, but ended up witnessing the first major engagement in the long four-year struggle.

Today the battlefield is an undulating green landscape, with hiking trails, historic sites and tours. Begin at the Henry Hill Visitor Center, where you can watch an orientation film and gather info. Take a self-guided walking or driving tour from here; guided tours are also available. Don’t miss the still-standing Stone House, which served as an aid station.

10. The villages of Northern Neck

Best for foodies

Virginia oysters are fast becoming a national obsession, and you can slurp them down at their point of origin all along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline – there are  eight dedicated routes  extolling the beloved mollusks. That said, the best place to experience oysters is the Northern Neck, a peninsula east of Fredericksburg, where latter-day oystering villages – including Irvington and Kilmarnock – are sprinkled across the genteel stream-crossed landscape. While oysters still support the economy, these villages also buzz with art galleries, trendy restaurants and freshly painted inns. 

Go to the source at Rappahannock Oyster Company , a mom-and-pop shop in Topping that ships its oysters nationwide. You can visit the oyster nursery, where babies (known as “spat”) grow in buckets, and dine plein air at Merroir restaurant, serving up the sweetest varieties of the local specialty. Or try them at Hope and Glory Inn ’s oyster bar in Irvington, which specializes in wine-and-oyster pairings. 

And oyster aren't just food around here: you'll find custom-designed jewelry in Kilmarnock made with oyster shells, historic workboats at the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum  including the skipjack Claud W Somers, once used for oyster dreading in the bay and now offering sails June through October. And here’s a really interesting one – in Weems, you can even see the shells mixed with the plaster covering the entire vaulted interior of Historic Christ Church , dating from 1735.

The clincher is the Wine and Oyster Festival, which takes place in Stratford Hall, typically in the fall, and features a score of local oyster growers (and chances to sample).

A woman walking down the street in Old Town Alexandria, with spring trees in bloom

11. Old Town Alexandria

Best for pre-Revolutionary War vibes

Virginia does pre-Revolutionary towns exceedingly well, and Old Town Alexandria , founded in 1749, is hard to beat. Centuries ago, George Washington wandered these streets, discussing revolutionary thoughts with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams at Gadsby’s Tavern  (now a restaurant and museum) and attending services at the still-active Christ Church.

More than 200 buildings from the town's earliest days edge its tree-shaded streets, with historic houses providing glimpses of bygone days. French and Indian War strategies were hashed out at  Carlyle House ; the Freedom House Museum  relates stories of enslaved individuals who passed through the nation’s second-largest slave-trading city; and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum  has a whimsical potions-mixing attic.

But this is also a city that’s alive with a modern-day vibe, showcasing trendy restaurants and boutiques up and down humming King Street. At the foot of King, the Potomac waterfront offers buskers, waterside restaurants, pathways and parks, plus the Torpedo Factory Art Center , an actual former torpedo factory now housing 82 artist studios. It’s the kind of place to sit and stay awhile. 

12. Middleburg

Best for a posh getaway

A genteel country town centered on horses and wine , Middleburg is a weekender’s delight. Established in 1787, its one main street has historic buildings shoulder-to-shoulder, holding restaurants, cafes, boutiques, antique shops, galleries and the esteemed Red Fox Inn and Tavern . The rest of town comprises a few side streets that are fun to investigate as well.

Many famous figures have found their way here, including Jackie O, who rode horses and lived on the outskirts of town; a plaque honors her at the garden next to the Pink Box (the village info center and museum). The Middleburg Spring Races draw thousands, as does Christmas in Middleburg, with a parade and the Middleburg Hunt & Hounds Review. 

Two noted wineries await nearby: Chrysalis Vineyards , growing the world’s largest planting of the indigenous Norton grape, and Greenhill Winery , producing robust reds. Both have wine-tasting in farm winery settings. If wine’s not your thing, pop into Mt. Defiance Cidery & Distillery and Lost Barrel Brewing instead.

13. Tangier Island

Best for getting away from it all

The only way to visit Tangier Island , in the middle of the Chesapeake, is by seasonal ferry from Reedville or Orancock (or Crisfield, Maryland). You’ll arrive at a lost-in-time isle, where prim New England–style cottages with white-picket fences dot the flat, marshy landscape, and the one pedestrian road is traveled by foot, bike or golf cart. 

For centuries, locals have eked out a living oystering and crabbing, and you’ll discover fishers' shanties on the water, as well as crab traps, one grocery store and two restaurants. No movie theaters, fast-food joints – or, well, anything modern, including mobile phone service. 

If you listen carefully, you’ll pick up the slight Elizabethan brogue in the locals’ speech, a legacy of long-ago English settlement; most folks here trace their heritage back to the island’s founding families of the 17th and 18th centuries.

You can spend the day, or overnight at one of the few B&Bs. Whatever the case, have lunch at Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House , where island fare like clam fritters, crab cakes, hot corn pudding and pickled beets is served community style. Note: the entire island is dry, so you'll have to BYOB.

Keep planning your trip to Virginia:  Add these experiences to your trip's itinerary Discover the state's most majestic scenery at these national parks Plan the ultimate road trip on these scenic routes

This article was first published Apr 26, 2022 and updated Apr 4, 2024.

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Johnny Molloy is an outdoor writer who has penned over 85 outdoor books covering hiking, paddling, camping, bicycling covering 28 different states. Having camped out over 5,000 nights throughout the United States, he continues to explore the great outdoors and write about it.

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West Virginia’s Greenbrier River Trail Bike Tour

Experience west virginia’s longest rail trail.

Nestled in West Virginia, the Greenbrier River Trail stretches for 78 miles, earning recognition as one of the state’s longest rail trails. This historical trail boasts prestigious titles, including Millennium Legacy Trail, National Recreation Trail, and a spot in the National Rails to Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame. With 35 charming bridges and two captivating tunnels—Droop Mountain Tunnel and Sharps Tunnel—this trail traces the former Chesapeake and Ohio railway’s path from the early 1900s to 1970.

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park serves as the trail’s starting point for our tour, offering a scenic railroad experience, the Railroad Museum, the Cass Company Store, and an authentic company town, giving you a glimpse into regional history.

Notably, the upper sections of the trail reside within a National Radio Quiet Zone surrounding the Greenbank Observatory, offering a serene escape with limited cell service. You’ll have a chance to visit the renowned Observatory during this bike tour to witness the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope and hub of astrophysical discoveries.

Explore the Greenbrier River Trail and immerse yourself in its historical, natural, and scientific wonders, all within the beauty of West Virginia’s landscape.

Tour Highlights

Greenbank Observatory

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

Droop Mountain Tunnel

Sharps Tunnel

Greenbrier Valley

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Old Clark Inn

General Lewis Inn

Day 1: After meeting with the group in Lewisburg, the tour kicks off with a journey to Greenbank Observatory, where we’ll explore the science center and enjoy a bus tour to view the impressive telescopes. Following our visit to Greenbank, we’ll venture to the charming town of Cass. Here, we’ll explore the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park and the Cass Company Store before starting our southward ride alongside the Greenbrier River. Along the Greenbrier River Trail (GRT), our route will lead us through the remarkable 500-foot-long Sharps Tunnel and its accompanying trestle bridge. The day concludes in the delightful railway town of Marlinton, where we’ll spend the night at the historic Old Clark Inn.

Day 2: On the second day of our tour, we’ll meander through numerous quaint railway towns, passing through our second tunnel, the 400-foot-long Droop Mountain Tunnel. Our route will culminate in the long forgotten town of Renick, from where we’ll catch a shuttle to the mountain town Lewisburg. There, we’ll enjoy top-notch accommodations and dining for the evening.

Day 3: For the last day, we’ll return to Renick and complete the final stretch of the trail leading us to the charming town of Caldwell. The trail continues through the Greenbrier Valley, giving glimpses of the Greenbrier River. Caldwell marks the completion of the entire 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail! After lunch, we will return to Lewisburg and say our goodbyes!

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Ride through the Emerald Isle or hike the rugged Atlantic Coast on a cycling or hiking tour in Ireland.

Embark on unforgettable journeys along Ireland's west coast with our cycling and hiking tours. Experience the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, explore historic Inis Mór and the Blasket Islands, and marvel at the Burren's unique limestone landscapes. Whether scaling Mount Brandon for panoramic views or cycling through the Wild Atlantic Way, Glencar Valley, and the myth-rich Beara Peninsula, each journey offers its own discovery. With unique accommodations, rich history, delectable local cuisine, and the warmth of Irish hospitality, these tours blend natural wonders with cultural immersion, promising a memorable exploration of Ireland's rugged beauty.

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Savor some of the most spectacular, 5-star properties in the world. Exuding luxury and elegance, these one-of-a-kind accommodations offer the chance to rejuvenate at award-winning spas, dine at Michelin-starred restaurants, and more.

Enjoy luxurious accommodations handpicked for a refined experience. From signature spa treatments to delicious local cuisine, you’ll be more than provided for; you’ll be pampered.

These handpicked hotels provide relaxation and fun in a casual and comfortable environment. Delicious cuisine and great service mix perfectly for a memorable stay.

On select cycling vacations, you’ll stay at a mix of Explorer and Luxury hotels. Rest assured, no matter which hotel level you’re at, our trip designers carefully select every accommodation.

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Road : 1-3 hours of riding. Up to 25 mi (40 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Gravel: 1-3 hours of riding. Up to 20 mi (35 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Hiking: 1-3 hours of hiking. Up to 5 mi (8 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Road : 2-4 hours of riding. 20-35 mi (35-60 km). Up to 2,500 ft (750 m).

Gravel: 2-4 hours of riding. 15-30 mi (25-45 km). Up to 2,000 ft (300 m).

Hiking: 2-4 hours of hiking. 4-8 mi (6-12 km). Up to 1,500 ft (450 m).

Road : 3-5 hours of riding. 25-55 mi (40-85 km). Up to 4,500 ft (1,500 m).

Gravel: 3-5 hours of riding. 20-40 mi (35-60 km). Up to 3,000 ft (900 m).

Hiking: 3-5 hours of hiking. 6-10 mi (9-16 km). Up to 2,000 ft (600 m).

Road : 4+ hours of riding. 40-70 mi (60-110 km). Up to 8,000 ft (2,400 m).

Gravel:  4+ hours of riding. 30-50 mi (45-80 km). Up to 4,000 ft (1,200 m).

Hiking: 4+ hours of hiking. 7-15 mi (11-24 km). Up to 4,000 ft (1,200 m).

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    If you want to get to know Virginia, start with these 14 sites from the Chesapeake to the Blue Ridge and beyond. Lonely Planet. Destinations. Planning. Inspiration. Shop. Search. Saves. Open main menu ... and a 2.1-mile round-trip trek up Hawksbill Mountain at mile 46.7 is perhaps the best of the bunch. The 1.5-mile hike up Stony Man from mile ...

  15. Self-Guided Bike Tours

    Our self-guided bike tours combine the freedom to explore your favorite destinations your way with the best parts of any Trek Travel itinerary—curated routes and itinerary suggestions at your fingertips, world-class Trek bikes, and the best accommodations along the way. You just have to wake up and go. View Self-Guided Bike Tours Travel Info.

  16. The 18 Best Winter Hikes in Virginia

    House Mountain Hike is actually two trails, consisting of Big House and Little House trail. Big House Mountain is shorter, a 1.7 mile moderate hike that can be more difficult in inclement weather, while Little House Mountain is 2.6 miles and moderate. Both hikes offer beautiful views from the summits. Turkey Neck Trail.

  17. 10 Rewarding But Easy Hiking Destinations in Northern Virginia

    Below, you will see the park where the hike takes place, the nearest town to where the hike is located, why you should visit, an essential fact about the hike, then the GPS coordinates of the park. With this information, you can make a rewarding trek of your own in Northern Virginia. - GREAT FALLS PARK - Nearest Town: Great Falls Hike ...

  18. Virginia

    Trek Travel bike tours, biking trips, and cycling vacations around the world. Here's some photos from those amazing vacations.

  19. Trek Travel

    Trek Travel, Madison, Wisconsin. 48,727 likes · 385 talking about this · 262 were here. Bike tour operator dedicated to all those who passionately believe the world is best seen from the seat of a... Trek Travel, Madison, Wisconsin. 48,746 likes · 639 talking about this · 262 were here. Bike tour operator dedicated to all those who ...

  20. West Virginia's Greenbrier River Trail Bike Tour

    Call 800-272-4141. Discover West Virginia's scenic Greenbrier River Trail, a 78-mile historic rail trail, on this 3-day bike tour.

  21. Trek Bicycle Williamsburg

    Trek Bicycle Williamsburg, Williamsburg. 1,482 likes · 3 talking about this · 193 were here. Williamsburg bike shop featuring Trek and Electra bicycles, cycling gear, cycling apparel, bicycle se

  22. Trek Bicycle Stafford Aquia Park, Virginia

    Even though Trek is an international company, this store feels very local. They are enormously friendly, passionate about bikes, and... Read more. View 30 reviews on. Trek Bicycle Stafford Aquia Park is a Bike Rental / Sharing in VA. Plan your road trip to Trek Bicycle Stafford Aquia Park in VA with Roadtrippers.

  23. Virginia

    Trek Travel Trailers For Sale in Virginia - Browse 23 Trek Travel Trailers Near You available on RV Trader.

  24. Ireland

    Ireland Hiking & Walking Tour. Welcome to an unparalleled hiking and walking adventure along the captivating west coast of Ireland. Start with the Cliffs of Moher, standing boldly a... Hiking + Walking. 6D / 5N. 2, 3. Explorer. Starting from. $4,599.00pp.