Top 10 Dog-Friendly Hikes in Shenandoah National Park
There are very few National Parks in the United States where you can bring your dog without feeling like your ability to explore has been restricted. Not only is Shenandoah National Park one of the most dog-friendly National Parks – it has some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the area.
Most Popular Dog-Friendly Trails
- Hawksbill Summit Trails. There are a few trails that take you to the highest peak in Shenandoah. At 4,051 feet, the Hawksbill summit features a stone platform with a 360-degree panoramic view of the Shenandoah Valley, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Virginia Piedmont. The most popular trails to reach the summit are Hawksbill Loop, Hawksbill Summit, and Hawksbill Summit via Upper Hawksbill.
- The Hawksbill Loop trail is a 2.1 mile round trip hike with a hiking difficulty rating of moderate and an estimated hiking time of 2 hours.
- The Hawksbill Summit trail is a 1.7 mile round trip hike with a hiking difficulty rating of moderate and an estimated hiking time of 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- The Hawksbill Summit via Upper Hawksbill is a 2.1 mile round trip hike with a hiking difficulty rating of easiest with an estimated hiking time of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Rose River Falls is a 4 mile circuit hike with a hiking difficulty rating of moderate and an estimated hiking time of 4 hours and 30 minutes. This beautiful nature trail features a footbridge, several streams, and a 67-foot waterfall.
- South River Falls is a 3.3 mile circuit hike with a hiking difficulty rating of moderate and an estimated hiking time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. This trail features a stream crossing, wildflowers, birds, and an 83-foot waterfall.
- Marys Rock Summit is a 3.7 mile round trip hike with a hiking difficulty rating of moderate and an estimated hiking time of 3 hours and 30 minutes. The 1,210-foot ascent leads to a scenic overlook of Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain.
- White Oak Falls. Both the lower and upper trails feature wildflowers, streams, scenic views, and a waterfall.
- Lower White Oak Falls is a 2 mile round trip hike with a hiking difficulty rating of easiest and an estimated hiking time of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Upper White Oak Falls is a 4.6 mile round trip hike with a hiking difficulty rating of moderate and an estimated hiking time of 3 hours and 30 minutes.
- Little Devils Stairs Loop is a 7.4 mile circuit hike with a hiking difficulty rating of strenuous and an estimated hiking time of 8 hours and 30 minutes. The lengthy, but the worthwhile hike is one that will surely give you and your dog plenty of exercise. This forest trail features streams, wildflowers, and scenic valleys.
Basic Park Rules
The park does have a few, but completely reasonable rules for dogs.
- Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times.
- This rule should always be followed. National Parks inhabit a lot of wildlife and it’s our responsibility to ensure that our dogs don’t chase or disturb the wildlife in any way.
- Following this rule also shows National Parks that dog owners are responsible, which may create new opportunities for other parks to lower their pet restrictions in the future.
- Bag your dog’s waste. There are plenty of garbage cans throughout the park where you can dispose of the waste after you bag it.
- Tip: if there isn’t a garbage can nearby, a good trick is to put the waste bag underneath your vehicle’s front or rear windshield wiper until you can dispose of it properly. This keeps the odor out of the vehicle until you can find a garbage can.
- Leashed dogs are only allowed on designated trails.
Tips and Suggestions
- Plan Ahead. Before taking your dog on a hike, it’s important that you know your and your dog’s hiking abilities. Bring plenty of water and do additional research on the park ahead of time. For more information on Shenandoah National Park, visit their website.
- Annual National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. If you’re planning multiple trips to National Parks and/or National Monuments within a year, the annual pass is the best option to save money. An annual pass basically pays for itself after only three visits. Visit the National Park Service website for more information on the annual pass.