Returning back to Northern Virginia after 3 years in Sydney, Australia and 4 years in Columbia, South Carolina was a bit of a shock to the system. I came back to a place that gave me a great childhood full of friends and sports and a good education. But it didn’t feel like home any more. I’d spent so much time creating a life in other places that Virginia felt a bit empty.
What I had come to find since being away were the things that make me most happy– like being in nature. So I began to explore my own ‘home’ like I would any other place. I was pleasantly surprised to find some beautiful trails in the area and as soon as leaving the house become a safer thing to do, my Saturdays were spent getting up early and getting to a new spot. Virginia is home to Shenandoah National Park, parts of the Appalachian trail, and Blue Ridge Parkway. Below I’ve outlined my favorite day hikes so you can get out and enjoy the fall air. Click on the title of each hike to link to their All Trails profile & you’ll be able to find them.
Location: Shenandoah National Park. Syria, VA. Around 2 hours from NoVA.
Distance: 9.5 miles, with shorter options.
Why I love it: Waterfalls! White Oak Canyon is full of swimming holes and waterfalls (big and small) to marvel at. It feels like a little hidden green oasis. I recommend doing the entire 9.5 mile loop, it may be a bit crowded for the first mile or so but once you continue on you’ll soon have some room to yourself. You’re able to hike up to views overlooking a sea of trees and waterfalls below. Bring a picnic as I am sure you’ll find a spot to stop. It’s a heavily trafficked trail so get there before 9 am especially if you’re exploring on a weekend. The drive from Northern Virginia is gorgeous.
Location: Bluemont, VA. It’s part of the Appalachian Trail! You’ll cross the border from Virginia to West Virginia during the hike.
Distance: 5.3 miles
Why I love it: Every time I do Ravens Rock, I am perfectly exhausted afterwards. It’s a decent work out with lots of ups and down and will fill your lungs with some fresh air. It’s also located very close to Bluemont Vineyard and Dirt Farm Brewing so you can get a well deserved treat after. Parking is limited, get there early!
Location: George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
Distance: 7.4 miles
Why I love it: It’s a short climb to the view, and the view continues for the rest of the hike. I hiked Buzzard Rock on an overcast day and was wandering through the clouds at the top. You can go for as long as you like on the trail until you feel like turning back. There were a few people in ENO hammocks reading at the top. If you want some mellow solitude, I recommend taking after them! Parking is also limited on this trail.
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