10 Breathtaking Hikes to Take This Fall in Virginia

If Virginia's fall hadn't already arrived, the end of summer would be a sad time of year. At this time of year, the Appalachians, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain's normally green woodlands change to vivid reds, bright yellows, flaming oranges, and deep maroons, all of which stand out against a clear blue sky.

It's time to go outside and enjoy the kaleidoscope of colors that fall brings, the scent of wilting leaves, and the crisp air. Fall is officially here! What better way to enjoy this beautiful season than by going on a hike? Virginia is home to some amazing hiking trails, and many of them offer breathtaking views of the fall foliage. In this blog post, we will highlight 10 of our favorite Virginia hikes for viewing fall foliage. So pack your bags and hiking boots and get ready for an autumn adventure!


In order to see the best fall colors, hikers need to have a variety of colors and locations where they can see the colors from a distance as well as up close. We want to trek through a vibrant forest, to be a part of it, and to be able to see other far-off woodlands where reds, yellows, and oranges create a strikingly different palette.

Here are 10 hikes through Virginia's fall foliage that will have you reaching for your phone or camera again to snap a new photo of the season's beauty.

The hike, the closest town to the trailhead, the time when fall colors are at their best, a key piece of information about the hike, and the GPS coordinates of the trailhead are all listed here. With this experience, you may set out and design your own Virginia fall foliage adventure.



Nearest Town: Weber City

Hike Distance: 1.8-mile circle hike with a side excursion.

Fall Color Peak: Late October to November 1 

GPS Coordinates: 36.70219, -82.74565

What You Should Know: Make sure to visit the historic Carter Cabin on the side trip.

This is one of those walks that has so many must-see attractions that it is difficult to build up any momentum. For starters, you hike down to the Natural Tunnel. Well, you actually don’t have to hike down there, since a park sky lift can take you down to Stock Creek and the Natural Tunnel for a fee. More importantly, it will take you back up again.

You must hike to other features even if you use the skylift. Visit the heights and depths of Virginia's renowned Natural Tunnel, the Stock Creek woodlands, and the farther-off views from Lovers Leap. Leave the visitor center first, descend through a rock amphitheater to observe the tunnel entrance that resembles a cave, and then walk along Stock Creek to the 220-year-old Carter Cabin. A few hollows over in Rye Valley, the Carter Family lived in this log home for several generations. It was rebuilt in the park and forms a beautiful backdrop for fall foliage. Then, ascend out of the Stock Creek gorge, go to walk along its rim for magnificent vistas, and finally make your way to Lovers Leap, where autumn's splendor rules.



Nearest Town: Dumfries

Hike Distance: 2 miles of trails

Fall Color Peak: End of October through early to mid-November

GPS Coordinates: 38.5896, -77.25632

What You Should Know: View from Freestone Point will reflect autumn color off Occoquan Bay and the Potomac River

This climb ascends slopes above the Potomac River, which is tidal. Ascend to Freestone Point from the trailhead for a commanding view of Occoquan Bay, the Potomac River, and Maryland beyond, as well as a Confederate battery built there in September 1861. The picturesque shore is a great place for a picnic. Although the cannons are gone, the magnificent view—a lovely vantage point for fall foliage—remains. Visit Fairfax, a house from the early 1800s, from there. On the journey to the historic Lee homesite, Leesylvania, which dates back to when the United States was a country, more twisting woodlands provide close-up autumn color. Return to the riverside picnic area after passing the Lee home garden and cemetery in the midst of more mountainous mature woodland.



Nearest Town: Steeles Tavern

Hike Distance: 3.6-mile there-and-back

Fall Color Peak: Mid-October through November 1

GPS Coordinates: 38.11585, -77.81854

What You Need to Know: Bag two hikes from one parking spot. This is also the upper trailhead for legendary Crabtree Falls.

You will still be well rewarded even if you only hike to The Priest from this trailhead. The Priest Wilderness, a 5,963-acre reserve set up in 2000, is traversed on the hike to The Priest. The Priest Mountain's peak, as well as the springs and streams that erupt from it, are all included in the wilderness. The passage of time has obscured the origin of the peak's name. Crabtree Meadows is where the hike begins. Follow a rocky jeep trail up a half-mile to the Appalachian Trail, where you may join the To. After passing a trail shelter, you'll arrive at The Priest Overlook, a great place to take in the autumnal colors of nature.

The scene is a vista of mountains painted in the colors of the autumn, a wild setting devoid of evidence of civilisation. Crabtree Creek is one of the tributaries of the Tye River that congregate below. Pinnacle Ridge's color-framed outcrops are seen from the left. Beyond, a left-to-right frame is formed by the Blue Ridge Parkway's Big Levels, Torry Ridge, the Devils Knob, and Three Ridges Wilderness. Massanutten Mountain can be seen at the farthest distance on a clear day.



Nearest Town: Daleville

Hike Distance: 3.6-mile there-and-back

Fall Color Peak: Mid-October through November 1

GPS Coordinates: 37.45762, -80.01742

What You Need to Know: The Tinker Cliffs stretch for a considerable distance, explore their entire length.

A fall hike to Tinker Cliffs will reward you with some of Western Virginia's best views. Along with the 1,500-foot climb, the hike offers other benefits like views of Tinker Cliffs and two streams. A well-built trail with numerous switchbacks makes it easier to ascend to one of the Roanoke valley's famous locations.


The Andy Layne Trail, which bears the name of an extreme outdoor enthusiast, is the way to the magnificent Tinker Cliffs. As you cross Catawba Creek's broad meadows, take in the beauty of the cliffs above and the aster and other fall wildflowers that are in bloom. The Appalachian Trail can be reached by ascending away from Catawba Creek. Turn around and approach Tinker Mountain's western side. As the AT follows the edge of exposed outcrops, the views get better. They invite you to look outward for outstanding sights. To the west of the Catawba Valley and its waves of mountains, mountains and valleys spread out. To the southwest, they even reach McAfee Knob and a kaleidoscope of autumnal hues.



Nearest Town: Luray

Hike Distance: 6.8-mile there-and-back

Fall Color Peak: Mid-October through late October

GPS Coordinates: 38.57997, -78.38116

What You Need to Know: Views go a long way from this lesser-visited outcrop at Shenandoah National Park

One of Shenandoah National Park's most beautiful but least frequented summits is Robertson Mountain, which is perfect for a fall hike away from the throng. The rocky top is not very challenging or time-consuming to reach, but most visitors skip it in favor of Old Rag, one of the busiest locations in the park, or other adjacent summits like Stony Man and Hawksbill.

On the all-access Limberlost Trail, you will first depart Skyline Drive and discover a highland cove and wetland. After that, you'll join Old Rag Fire Road, where the terrain is flat and the walking is simple so you can take in the colors of autumn as you go. The final mile will lead you to Robertson Mountain outcrops on a more conventional singletrack foot trail. There are several rocky outcrops that offer panoramic views in three directions. Whiteoak Canyon's depths are below. To the southwest, Hawksbill Mountain's hump stands out dramatically. To the east is Old Rag. Interestingly, Robertson Mountain is five feet higher than Old Rag at 3,296 feet. Inhale it all. Being atop this peak is wonderful.



Nearest Town: Floyd

Hike Distance: From 1 to 10.7 miles

Fall Color Peak: Mid-October through early November

GPS Coordinates: 38.57997, -78.38116

What You Need to Know: You can do the whole loop or hike just the high country section for a shorter there-and-back

From Saddle Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you may take the Rock Castle Gorge Trail for a wonderful 3.2-mile out-and-back stroll. Then turn in two directions to head toward Rocky Knob. Arrive at a former Appalachian Trail shelter soon, perched on Rocky Knob's cliffside overlooking the gorge below. Easterly views continue through the Piedmont after the gorge, where the highlands near Rocky Knob or the lowlands below will be in full fall color. In either case, there will be color thanks to this failsafe option.

Continue south along Rocky Knob's razor-sharp edge, past the Rocky Knob Picnic Area. Step out onto the gorge edge. A dozer is the drop off below. Arrive at the parkway and Rock Castle Gorge Overlook. A spur leads directly to the Rocky Knob visitor center up ahead. After 1.6 miles, turn around at the Twelve O' Clock Knob Overlook by staying on your current path. I should also mention that the entire 10.7-mile Rock Castle Gorge Loop is a popular trek in Virginia throughout the year.



Nearest Town: Amherst

Hike Distance: 6.4-mile loop with spurs up to Mount Pleasant

Fall Color Peak: Mid-October through early November

GPS Coordinates: 37.75918, -79.18974

What You Need to Know: The twin lookouts atop 4,021 Mount Pleasant are worth the side trip

This location really does live up to its name. There are numerous vistas in Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area, both from mountaintops and meadows. This hike in the George Washington National Forest takes the Henry Lanum Trail to ascend Mount Pleasant, which has twin outcrops that pack a 1-2 panorama punch and give a spectacular display of fall foliage. Be aware that weekends in nice weather can be hectic.


The Henry Lanum Trail ascends to a large gap beneath Mount Pleasant at a distance of 7.9 miles after initially crossing the North Fork Buffalo River's headwaters. A spur climbs Mount Pleasant in switchbacks before dividing to the east and west from overlooks where mountains, meadows, and valleys enlarge to the west while the Piedmont stretches to the horizon to the east.

You roll to Mount Pompey, an outcrop with a northeasterly outlook, after descending Mount Pleasant. You complete the circuit by returning to the parking area after more ridge running.



Nearest Town: Leesburg

Hike Distance: 4.7-mile loop

Fall Color Peak: Late October through early November

GPS Coordinates: 38.82461, -77.70574

What You Need to Know: Thoroughfare Gap, where this hike takes place, has been a travel corridor since people stepped foot on this continent.

Get a spectacular glimpse of the Blue Ridge Mountains by hiking to an overlook. 800 acres of the larger 2,486-acre Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve are managed by the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy, where visitors can view fall foliage while also gazing toward the Blue Ridge. Start near the southernmost point of the Bull Run Mountains, passing a tavern's remains before arriving at the enormous Chapmans Mill, which previously operated successfully. From there, proceed through an abundance of boulders, oaks, and pines on the ridgeline. Access a sizable rock outcrop with Table Mountain pines around it on Conservancy property via an easement. From here, you may see a colorful vista toward the west, where the Blue Ridge rises in all its splendor. Retrace your steps to pass a family cemetery and a hand-dug linear quarry, combining the beauty of autumn with Virginia's past.



Nearest Town: Rocky Mount

Hike Distance: 6.5 mile balloon loop; can be made shorter

Fall Color Peak: End of October through early November

GPS Coordinates: 37.01521, -79.8937

What You Need to Know: An abundance of hickories and oaks add fall color.


Take a trek up this ridge above Rocky Mount. A couple of loops are available on this portion of the Virginia Natural Heritage Program that has been conserved. Grassy Hill is covered in dense oak and hickory trees. Views of Rocky Mount and the Piedmont below can be seen from three overlooks. The East Loop overlook is the best in the reserve, where fall reaches east across Rocky Mount and beyond, deep into the Piedmont. Hikers can easily modify their Grassy Hill walk by performing the whole 6.5-mile circle, cutting the loop in half, or carrying out a there and back climb.

The hardwood environment by the trail was worthy of preservation. The 1,295-acre preserve was included in the Virginia Natural Heritage Program in the late 1990s. The sights, though, are what draw many hikers. They extend over three miles along the ridge that makes up Grassy Hill. While hiking to those sights, pay attention to the golden hickories and the many oaks along the trail.



Nearest Town: Fredericksburg

Hike Distance: 4.5-mile loop

Fall Color Peak: End of October through early-to-mid November

GPS Coordinates: 38.11585, -77.81854

What You Need to Know: Lake Anna was impounded in 1971, and is now one of Virginia’s most popular recreation lakes.

The 2,000-acre Lake Anna State Park's beachfront is where you'll find this wooded stroll with lake and shoreline vistas. Starting at the main park trailhead, take the Sawtooth Trail in a circle to meet the Glenora Trail, which meanders through the Big Woods, a region once famous for its fall foliage. Arrive at Glenora Plantation and take in the lake's brilliant reflection of the vibrant leaves. Embark on the Big Woods Trail and detour to see an abandoned homestead. Before returning to the trailhead, the Turkey Run Trail returns you to the interior where you can take in more secluded forest color.


There are so many great hikes in Virginia, and these are just a few of our favorites. So get out there and enjoy the fall foliage! And don't forget to take some pictures to capture the beauty of the season. Happy hiking!


12923 Fitzwater Dr. Nokesville, VA 20155 

(703) 594-3800 | jacobsandco.com

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