The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests stretch along the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and even cross into parts of West Virginia and Kentucky. Overnight accommodations are provided at more than 50 developed campgrounds and three cabins in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
Hiking in George Washington National Forest
Hiking is allowed on open forest roads, on many forest roads that are gated to prevent motor vehicle travel, and on more than 1,925 miles of trails on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Cross-country (off-trail) hiking is also allowed throughout the forest, except for specific areas signed against foot travel due to resource concerns. Permits are NOT required to hike in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Looking for a nearby hiking adventure? Lester Zook, owner of WILD GUYde Adventures, recommends these treks.
Fridleys Gap Hike and Dip
Take a scrambly 1 mile hike back into “The Gap” along Fridleys Run, to a campsite and a small pool that never gets warm! Chest-deep in the spring and early summer. Dogs are welcome – might want to have the leash along in case you run into another hound-loving family. Always wear footwear in wild water (old sneakers, aqua-shoes, or sandals with a heel strap), and never dive – always jump feet first.
Directions: I-81, Exit 257 to Rt. 11 South, or Exit 251 to Rt. 11 North. Turn East at Fellowship Rd., left on Indian Trail Rd. (Rt. 717), then right on Fridley Gap Rd. Bear left at big Camp Overlook sign and drive until the road ends at a parking lot. The trail enters the woods ahead, and is blazed purple.
High Knob Fire Tower
This 1 ½ mile uphill trail hike takes you to a restored stone fire tower from the 1940’s, with a gorgeous 360° view all around. Take ample water since there is none on top of the mountain! Dogs are welcome, but bring a leash. Expect to lose cell phone signal as you enter the National Forest just west of Harrisonburg.
Directions: I-81, Exit 247B Harrisonburg VA puts you on Rt. 33 West (Market St. in town). Stay on Rt. 33 West to the WV state line. As you hairpin turn at the top of the mountain, turn left into the gravel parking area and look for the trail info kiosk. The trails leads off from here and is blazed yellow).
Massanutten Storybook Trail
The Storybook Trail offers a ½ mile paved wheelchair accessible walkway out to a viewing deck high above Page County and the South Fork (of the Shenandoah River) drainage, with Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains forming the eastern horizon.
Directions: I-81, Exit 264 New Market VA; turn on to Rt. 211 East. Stay with 211 East as it turns left to join Main St. in town, and then shortly, turns right toward Shenandoah Ntl. Park and Luray Caverns. In front of you is a mountain. Drive to the top, and before starting down the other side, turn left on to Chrisman Hollow Rd. 2 miles later, pull in at a parking area on the right with a sign for the Massanutten Storybook Trail).
Hone Quarry, Cliff Trail
This 1 mile uphill trail hike takes you to a gorgeous and remote clifftop overlooking the Hone Quarry Valley in the North River District. Dogs are welcome, but bring a leash, and protect your dog at the top of the cliff. Also, be alert for snakes in this rocky terrain! Finish with a picnic and a creek-wade back at the Picnic Area afterwards.
Directions: I-81 Exit 240 Bridgewater VA (Rt. 257 West). , Stay with 257 West through the towns of Bridgewater and Dayton. Continue several miles and turn left on Rt. 257 at the Ottobine intersection. Stay on Rt. 257, turning right at the CITGO/257 Grocery (Briery Branch Rd.). After another 2 miles, just past the George Washington National Forest sign, bear right at the Hone Quarry Recreation Area sign. Travel 1 ½ miles up the road, park on the left at the Hone Quarry Picnic Area. The Cliff Trail leads up the mountain on the right side of the road, and is blazed yellow).
George Washington National Forest Recreation
The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests afford virtually every type of outdoor recreation activity you can imagine. Hiking, mountain biking, camping, and fishing are the most popular activities; but don’t forget bird watching, horseback riding, photography, orienteering, and cross-country skiing.