Shenandoah National Park: A Virginia Treasure

Little Stony Man Trail

It’s fall in Virginia, my favorite time of year. People are slowly emerging from the comfort of their air-conditioned homes.  The days are cooler and nature is about to put on a show. Less than two hours away from Fredericksburg, VA is Shenandoah National Park. As part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it boasts trails for all levels as well as spectacular views. If you’re looking for an easy hike, Little Stony Man Trail is a great start. From beginning to end, we walked exactly 4 miles but the loop itself is about 3.7 miles. It’s a relatively short hike and I was pleasantly surprised at the stunning views that we encountered.

Stunning view at Little Stony Man Trail

Stunning view at Little Stony Man Trail

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Perfect for all level hikers

We brought our dog Nala on our hike. It’s important to note that while dogs are allowed on the park, they are restricted from some of the trails and they must be on a leash. We could hike Little Stony Man with her but not to the Stony Man summit.  Little Stony Man trail is great for the whole family, our 8-year old had no issues completing the loop. We were there on a beautiful clear day and views from the overlooks are nothing less than stunning. While it is only a couple of hours away from Washington, DC, it feels like it’s a world away from the pressures of city life.  The trails are well established with clear markers so don’t be afraid of getting lost (at least not with this particular trail).  We encountered people quietly eating lunch while enjoying the majestic view from an overlook to climbers scaling down one of the cliffs.

Little Stoney Man Overlook

Nala at Little Stoney Man Overlook

Rock Climbing at Little Stony Man

Rock Climbing at Little Stony Man

Rock Climbing at Little Stony Man

Rock Climbing at Little Stony Man

What to expect

Unbeknownst to us, it was National Public Lands Day and all national parks were fee free for the day. That was a pleasant surprise! The next fee free day is November 11 for Veterans Day. It’s $20 to for a single vehicle entry and it lasts for 7 consecutive days. It is well worth the price, in my opinion. Upon entrance to Shenandoah National Park, you will be given a map but I downloaded an app called AllTrails while doing research. The app listed all the nearby trails, reviews as well as maps of all the trails. Most of us have tracking apps but if you don’t already have one, download the app you want to use for tracking before leaving home. Once you’re on Skyline Drive, the cell signal is appropriately replaced with the beautiful mountain scenery.   You’ll get signal in some portions of the trail but to track your hike from the beginning, have the app already loaded on your phone.
 Little Stony Man Trail Map
Parking can be tricky.  The map will show you a parking area for Little Stony Man Trail, however, it resembles a pull-off area with no lane markers with less than a dozen spots.  By the time we arrived around noon, all the spots were taken.  Plan on getting there early or you’ll be forced to park along Skyline Drive like we did.  There is another larger parking area near the entrance to Stony Man summit and you can start the loop from that point.
I hope you have the opportunity to explore and enjoy this beautiful state!  If you have a favorite easy trail, I’d love to know about it!