This area offers two very different mountains ranges from each other, Shenandoah National Park to the east, and the George Washington National Forest to the west. The National Park offers beautiful vistas from Skyline Drive and plenty of great hikes with the Appalachian Trail going the whole length of the park. The National Forest is more rugged, with good mountain biking, ridgeline trails and swimming holes. Harrisonburg is a college town, with several good places to eat and downtown that is revitalizing. Staunton is a picturesque town that takes you back in time, the most impressive small town in the valley, in my opinion, as regards to old architecture. A very walkable downtown with restaurants, coffee shops, small groceries and shops. The whole valley is surging with local foods from area farms, and most restaurants source much of their food from the area. Polyface Farms, featured on Food Inc. is in the country west of Staunton. The Brew Ridge Trail is a site that directs you to 5 breweries east of Staunton, the closest being about 20 minutes, the farthest about 45 minutes away. The northern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway is about 15 minutes from Staunton, where Skyline drive ends. Many a fine hike are off of the parkway.
Trails in the G.W. National Forest: High Knob lookout- About 1.3 mile one-way out and back trail. Watch for the turn off for High Knob towards the end, marked with a sign. There is a fire lookout tower at the top with spectacular 360 views, with the valley to the east and West Virginia mountains to the west. You can see Spruce Knob, the highest point in W.V. If you continue on the trail instead of turning to go up to High Knob, the trail continues along the ridge line for several more miles (7 I think.) There is also a turn-off trail that leads down to the Brandywine Lake recreation area. Directions: Just head west from downtown Harrisonburg about 30 minutes on Hwy. 33. The parking lot at the West Virginia state line is the trail head. Hone Quarry- A two mile trail with rock outcrop about halfway with a great view. Hone Quarry is a recreational area with several trails. The one mentioned here is on the right across from the parking area before you get to the bathrooms. It’s called the “Cliff Trail.” Directions: Heading west on Hwy. 33 from Harrisonburg, make a left on S.R. 613, then a right on 731, and another right on 257, which is Briery Branch Rd. Hone Quarry Rd. pulls off to the right from that, which leads you into the rec. area. Click here for a map.
Trails in Shenandoah National Park and off the Blue Ridge Parkway: Please note that the A.T. runs parallel to Skyline Drive at many spots, and there are plenty of parking areas along the way too, so the options for hiking the A.T. are too many to mention. At I-64, where Skyline Drive becomes Blue Ridge Pkwy., there is a parking lot there where the A.T. crosses and is a good starting point for trips north or south. Dark Hollow Falls- 1.4 mile round trip, to picturesque 70 ft. waterfall. Parking lot on the right located just north of Big Meadows area, which is about 13 miles north of the Swift Run Gap entrance to the park, which is Hwy.33 going east from Harrisonburg. $15 fee per car to enter the Skyline Drive, or an annual pass for $30.