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Winter Hiking – Shenandoah National Park

The unseasonably warm weather of the last few weeks has made it nearly impossible to stay indoors. Last Wednesday Ian and I (Holly) gave in to the brilliant day and headed up to the Skyline Drive for some hiking. Ian is from Belarus, which has a lot of old-growth forest, and he’s been keen to get his arms around some Virginia trees. I grew up hiking in the Shenandoah National Park but am many years out of touch with the area. We were both excited to get some exercise and explore a few of the trails.

From the Inn, it’s just a half-hour drive to the  Skyline Drive (and the Appalachian Trail), straight out 33 East (also East Market Street) until you see the brown Park signs and the entrance to the left. During the off-season (Dec – Feb), the entrance fee is $10 per vehicle.

We had decided on the White Oak Canyon area (map here) so we headed North up the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway for another half-an-hour. The late-morning sun shone sharply through the bare trees and flashed patches of light and shadow on our windows. I was surprised how nice the drive was even in late-January. My impressions on the trail were similar. It cut steeply down and back up the canyon followed streams almost the entire way.

The beauty of the stark landscapes was quieter than the extravagant beauty of the other seasons, but breathtaking in it’s own right. The whole day we passed only three other hikers, and driving home at dusk along the Skyline Drive more deer than cars. It felt like we’d discovered a secret.

The Park does occasionally close if there’s ice or snow. Check here for updates, trail maps, and other important info.  Hiking in the Shenandoah National Park


  1. I love White Oak Canyon! Ian, when it gets a little warmer, you’ve got to hike Old Rag, too. It’s completely exhilarating. 🙂

  2. Great pictures and description of your hike makes me want to get up in the Park again real soon!

  3. Thank you, Adam. Wayne advised exactly the same when he had heard about our Cedar Run trail. It’s our destination for the next time! 🙂

  4. Shenandoah National Park Trust says:

    For those who love Shenandoah…consider joining Shenandoah National Park Trust http://www.snptrust.org.

  5. FYI- the Park no longer updates Skyline Dr closures on their website. You need to call (540) 999-3500, select 1, then select 1 again. They have also been using Twitter (@ShenandoahNPS).

  6. Some of your great pictures remind me of a hiking day in June, when Viktor and I had been enjoying the beauty of the Dark Waterfall! Want to see that beauty in blossom …mmmm

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