A 3-Day Weekend in Shenandoah National Park

I recently spent the weekend at Shenandoah National Park + it was such a great time! This was my second time at Shenandoah + also my second time hiking ever! Due to my novice status, I wanted to share all the details + write about my experience.

I was visiting someone who has a cabin in the area so unfortunately, I don’t have any lodging recommendations. However, I have a lot to say about everything else!

I drove up on a Friday morning and got to the cabin around 1PM. I unpacked + refreshed before we went to Elkton Brewing Co to get drinks + pizza from the Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza food truck. I got the ODell’s Tiger (blond orange blonde, 5.2% ABV) + the Margherita pizza (10″, tomato puree, house mozzarella, basil, extra-virgin olive oil). We sat outside to eat/drink + all of the tables were well-spaced out so I wasn’t too concerned about COVID germs! Masks were also required inside to order your beer.

After drinks + lunch, we headed out to our first hike! We started with Blackrock Summit. This hike was pretty flat + only 1 mile but the views were incredible! At one point, there is a huge pile of rocks (or a rock scramble) that we climbed on top of.

The two pictures above this + the picture below on the left are all from Blackrock Summit. We sat on the top of the rocks for a while to watch clouds + chat. We got to the rock pile around 5PM + stayed there for 30-40 minutes before hiking back to the car.

After Blackrock Summit, we went to Doyles River Falls. This hike was about 3 hours to get to the falls + back. We started this trail at around 6/6:30PM + got to the falls at around 7:15PM. The trail has a little overlook to see the falls but if you want to go down to the bottom of the falls into the water (where I took the picture below on the right), it’s a little steep + slippery. So if you choose to go down, proceed with extreme caution!

We stayed here + took all kinds of pictures for about 30 minutes before hiking back. We ended up hiking back in the dark + only one of us had a headlamp. So no matter when you are hiking, I recommend packing a head lamp just in case!

That concluded Day 1! We just went to Cook Out + Chick-Fil-A for dinner because it was pretty late + we were so tired that we needed something fast!

For Day 2, we slept in + floundered around the cabin while we waited for the rain to clear out. On Saturday, we hiked Whiteoak Canyon. We hiked to the upper falls from Skyline Drive, which was about 5 miles. Since it had just rained, this trail was pretty slippery since it’s rocky + steep in several places. I definitely recommend giving yourself plenty of time so you don’t have to rush + can hike carefully. I also recommend actual hiking shoes – not running sneakers – but I will go more into what to bring + wear further down!

We started this hike around 4PM + the two pictures above + below are from along the way!

We got to the upper falls around 5:30PM. This area was super slippery + rocky so the spots that we hiked to for pictures were a little tricky to get to (like where I’m sitting in the picture below). So again, appropriate footwear is definitely recommended!

Once we were done taking pictures + enjoying the nature, we hiked back. We got back to the truck right at dusk (around 7:30PM). For this hike, I definitely recommend giving yourself more time than you think you will need. We pretty much raced back to the truck because we went to Jack Brown’s for dinner. The hike back was a solid cardio exercise so like I said, definitely give yourself plenty of time for this hike!

For dinner, we went to Jack Brown’s Single Wide. As we all know, I don’t eat red meat or pork. However, I will always make an exception for a Jack Brown’s burger. I always get the Greg Brady, which has mac ‘n’ cheese + potato chips on it so I can’t even taste the burger… I also always get fried Oreos – one of my faves!

In terms of COVID precautions, all of the wait staff were wearing masks + most of the tables were well spaced out. It was pretty windy so I’m not sure if that was a good thing (blowing the COVID germs away) or a bad thing (sitting in a COVID wind tunnel). While we were waiting for our table, we were asked to wait in our vehicle until we were called.

For Day 3, we slept in again + debated if/where to go on one more hike. We ended up going to Bearfence Rock Scramble.

This was only a mile + pretty easy – basically a walk – except for the rock scramble. If you are terrified of heights, I would say proceed with caution! There were a ton of small children on the rock scramble. It wasn’t too bad but I did find it a tiny bit stressful!

After this hike, we headed back + I drove back to Virginia Beach!

As I said earlier, I wanted to share more about what to bring + what to wear. It was in the mid-70s the entire weekend + partially sunny. I was content in various tank top/shorts combinations because we were basically running we were hiking so fast. However, if you are with a group that moves a little slower, I recommend bringing/wearing a layer because it could feel cooler when you’re on a wooden path. So below I linked everything I was wearing in order of the pictures above…

First picture: Top is the Athleta Viper Midi Tank but it’s sold out so two similar options here + here. Shorts are the Athleta Mesh Racer Run shorts and there are two other options here + here.

Second picture: Top is a very old Power Y tank from Lululemon but there are two similar options here + here. Shorts are the old Hotty Hot shorts from Lululemon (they’ve changed the style a tiny bit) + there are two more options here + here.

Third picture: Top is a tie-back tank from Athleta that has since sold out but here are two similar options – here + here. Shorts are from Old Navy a few years ago but there are two similar options here + here.

As for socks + shoes, I wore my balega socks all weekend + my New Balance sneakers (great for running but not so much for hiking). So this is a great time to discuss my first regret of the weekend – not having the right shoes! I think it would be worth having hiking shoes on hand (especially if you live within a few hours of mountains) no matter your expertise. This was my second time hiking + I definitely wish I had had them. I’ve found a few that I am interested in – these Merrell shoes, this other pair of Merrells, or these from Oboz. Having the right shoes would have made a huge difference so definitely recommend finding a good pair of hiking shoes (+ breaking them in before you go)!

Regret #2 was leaving my CamelBak at home! I had originally bought one similar to this for running half marathons. A couple similar ones are this other CamelBak + this one from Nathan. Staying hydrated (+ having your hands free) is super important! I had brought my HydroFlask but it was too annoying because it made me feel off-balanced (it alternated between being in a side pocket on my pack & being wrapped in my raincoat inside my pack). If you bring a smaller water bottle or have something in the other side pocket to balance out the weight, you’ll be fine!

Either way, definitely bring a back pack (even if you have a smaller water bottle). You’ll want to carry your phone, snacks, water, extra pair of socks, a headlamp (in case you get stuck hiking back after sunset – oops), maybe a raincoat or extra layer, and someone should probably bring a little first aid kit (just in case).

Overall, it was such a great trip! I could have spent a few more days hiking around Shenandoah but a 3-day weekend off-the-grid was exactly what I needed to reset. Have you hiked in Shenandoah before? What are your favorite trails? Share in the comments below!

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