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shelter at the top of the trail
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Hawksbill Mountain Trail

The parking area and trailhead is at mile 45.6 on Skyline Drive.
The park is open 24 hours. Some facilities and roads close in winter.
540-999-3500 1 Hour
May 2013 Fall, Spring
$10-29 Shenandoah Virginia
Website Recreation Hiking
First review
 
The Hawksbill Mountain Trail is a 1.7 mile trail to the summit of 4050 foot Hawksbill Mountain. There is an approximately 700 foot elevation change from the trailhead on Skyline Drive to the mountain summit, which is the highest point in the park. The trail is moderately difficult due to the elevation change, but trail conditions were good and there was no meaningful clutter or obstructions. The trail also was fairly empty in late May in the evening.

There are over 500 miles of trails in Shenandoah National Park, including 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail. This link on the park’s website has more information about trail options: http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/mapshiking.htm. Most of the trails can be accessed from Skyline Drive. Since several trails lead up Hawksbill Mountain, there are alternatives if the primary parking lot is full but the other trails will entail a longer walk. The quickest option is the 1.7 mile Lower Hawksbill Mountain route from mile 45.6 on Skyline Drive.

Hawksbill Mountain is the highest mountain in the park, so it was too enticing a challenge not to hike it. The trail will get your heart rate going especially in the first part of the ascent but it will not be difficult for a hiker in good shape. Also, since the trail was so well maintained, it was easy to maintain a brisk pace. The plants and trees become more weathered and sparser as the trail progressed. There is a small stone observation platform at the summit and a stone shelter as well. The views at the summit were a bit of a letdown compared with other hikes in Virginia, such as at the Hunchback Mountain and Peaks of Otter sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The scenery looking north was the most impressive, but it was similar to the view from other areas on Skyline Drive. The trail worked OK from a recreational standpoint but the nearby Stony Man Trail had better views and was an easier hike, so it should have greater appeal for most people.
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guyonthego
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Shenandoah National Park

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