When a breathtaking view is up for grabs, taking the scenic route is a given. It just so happens that we know of seven splendid sites worthy of your time and a tank of gas. Soak in these Shenandoah Valley views for the life-giving respite they deliver, Insta-worthy viewshed, and breath of fresh air when the walls begin to close in.
Dan Ingalls Overlook | Route 39 | Warm Springs, VA
Route 39 is one of the most beautiful drives as it meanders from Lexington along the Maury River to Hot Springs and then into West Virginia. Just before reaching Hot Springs, however, Warm Springs Mountain demands its time then rewards travelers with a pause at the top. That’s Dan Ingalls Overlook. Pull over, soak in the sweeping views, read the interpretative signage, and if you’re up for it, set off on the Ingalls Overlook Trail. At nearly 2.5 miles out-and-back, the trail offers a fantastic vista from its final lookout.
Jefferson Rock at Harpers Ferry | Appalachian Trail | Harpers Ferry, WV
Jefferson Rock is a favorite observation point for hikers along the Appalachian Trail and those who simply want a view of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers converging at Harpers Ferry. Mountains rise peaks of around the rivers creating a dramatic landscape for those who love soaking in such views. Note that climbing or standing on Jefferson Rock is prohibited.
Natural Bridge at Natural Bridge State Park | Natural Bridge, VA
The crown jewel of Natural Bridge State Park is the Natural Bridge itself, a natural limestone arch rising 215 feet above Cedar Creek. Vegetation frames the bridge and the sun dances and shifts along the gorge walls throughout the day. If it’s not the breadth of the arch that takes your breath away, it will be something about the environment that does. Blue skies, swimming ducks, fiery foliage, or even a foggy morning will drop your jaw.
Black Rock Summit | Shenandoah National Park | Mile 84.4
One of the easiest hikes and best views in Shenandoah National Park is Black Rock Summit in the Loft Mountain area of the park. Set off from the Blackrock parking area onto the Appalachian Trail south (white blaze). This trail map will help you make the journey along this one-mile circuit to the boulder field with the excellent pay-off.
Abbott Lake at Peaks of Otter | Blue Ridge Parkway | Milepost 85.6
Tucked in the shadow of three peaks – the Peaks of Otter – is Abbott Lake and Peaks of Otter Lodge. The sun glistens off the water of the lake, which reflects the colors of the season and the blue sky above. It’s a crisp, delightful view along the one-mile Abbott Lake Trail, an easy, accessible path and kid-friendly TRACK Trail.
Upper Whiteoak Falls | Shenandoah National Park | Mile 42.6
Waterfalls are glorious in any season, and the rainier the recent weather, the better. To discover the beauty of the 86-foot Upper Whiteoak Falls, you’ll need to park at the Whiteoak Canyon parking area and pick up the Whiteoak Canyon Trail for a 2.3-mile descent to the overlook ledge. Refer to this handy trail map for navigation.
Big Schloss | Wolf Gap Recreation Area | Lost City, WV
Part of the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests, Wolf Gap Recreation Area was a 1930s African American Civilian Conservation Corps Camp that is now the rally point for anyone eager to conquer Big Schloss, a rewarding rock outcrop that puts surrounding mountains on full display. Tackle it from Wolf Gap Campground and be prepared for a bit of a climb at the start.
Header Image Courtesy of County of Bath.