15 Favorite Winter Hikes

by Casey Higgins | Posted: Dec 16, 2014 | Updated: Nov 18, 2016

Comments: 12 Comments


A view of Peaks of Otter by Nicole Johnson.

A view of Peaks of Otter by Nicole Johnson.

With the trees bare, there’s hardly an obstruction to the immense views some of Virginia’s favorite hikes offer in the winter. In addition to the viewshed, special places await. Special places like frozen waterfalls!

Some of the favorite hikes, per Facebook folks, are the following:



Bearfence Mountain, great short hike, 9 miles north of Rt 33 on Skyline Drive. Rock scramble offers 360 degree [views]. Hike early for the majestic sunrise or late for an unforgettable sunset.”   MAP

Old Rag Mountain. Tough hike but worth it!”  MAP

When we were all at home as teenagers near Overall, Va, my brothers and I enjoyed the hike to Overall Falls, and in the winter it was common to see the ravens “playing” there. They would sail over the top of the falls and then pull their wings back against themselves causing them to drop like rocks. As they neared the bottom they would put their wings back out to catch their fall.”



HUMPBACK ROCK! Climbed it as a child and would love to take my grandkids there one day!!”  MAP

Hiked in to Humpback this am and it was beautiful, but pretty icy and a touch scary.  Love winter at Shenandoah National Park though!”

Apple orchard falls when it’s frozen.”  MAP

Sharp top great memories climbing … when we’re over from the UK. :)”

Sharp top is amazing but crossrock on Flat top is interesting also. The Peaks of Otter is one of my favorite places to hike!”

Cold Mountain had amazing views and is a blast in the snow!” MAP

Buffalo mountain, 360 views, easy 1 mile hike. great payoff for little work.”   MAP



“The hike up to the cascades in Giles County.”



Sure, the summit is beautiful, but who doesn’t want to climb just a tad higher? A few fire towers are open to the public, if you want to check them out this winter. The two below were recommended by Krissy Reynolds of the Forest Fire Lookout Association.

Woodstock Tower in Shenandoah County was built in 1935 and boasts 360-degree views of the Seven Bends in the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. The Fire Tower Trail off of State Route 758 is blazed pink and is a simple.2-mile round trip. It’s literally right there off of the parking area. The tower is steel and in excellent condition.

Big Walker Lookout in Wythe County as a great hike with the tremendous pay off of the fire tower. The tower is 100 feet tall and sits atop the 3,405-foot Big Walker Mountain. Let it be a clear, crisp winter day and you’ll see North Carolina and Tennessee from up there. It’ll cost you $6 to climb the 1947 tower.


Don’t stop there! Surely Virginia’s other favorite hikes are fantastic in any season. See them!

What’s your favorite winter hike and why? Leave a comment!


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These are all good suggestions if you’re looking for a little challenge and you’re a confident winter hiker. Here are some much easier winter strolls in Northern Virginia, perfect for families and folks looking for an outing close to DC. http://www.funinfairfaxva.com/8-great-winter-walks-northern-virginia/

Also note that while the Woodstock Tower hike is easy, the drive to the parking area from the valley is steep and narrow; a little dicey when it’s icy. 🙂

gmat says:

Big Branch Falls is a good winter hike.


It’s only 4-5 miles round trip, wonderful scenery when the trees are bare, a beautiful scenic drive just getting there.

You cross Moormans River 3 times (or you can avoid the first 2 crossings by taking a side trail). Anyway, the first 2 crossings the rock-hopping is easy, the 3rd one you might get wet, so have a plan for that.

Larry says:

This is nonsense. How could you leave off Overall Run in SNP when it is completely frozen?? Get in the know!! -From an Virginia-based 52hikechallenger

Carl says:

You left out Mt Rogers…the hike up to the rocks from the park is amazing and beautiful in the winter…

Westmoreland State Park – try Turkey Neck trail that takes one through the woods, down to the lower wetlands that lead out to Fossil Beach (good sharks tooth hunting area). On the return head up hill to the Meadow where you’ll be about 75 feet above the Potomac River for a view up river and down toward the Chesapeake Bay. Walk quietly as there are Bald Eagles along the entire hike. Leaving the park turn right and check out the mural project in the small town of Montross. We now have 11 panels done by Melanie Stimmel of We Talk Chalk.

Douglas says:

If your looking for a fun place to stay when hiking Old Rag Mountain, check out The Cabins at Rose River Farm http://www.roseriverfarm.com/accommodations.html

Claire says:

Also might want to add a disclaimer, that while hiking in the winter, BE PREPARED. Unlike hiking in the summer, there will be far less people around if you get into trouble. Shenandoah this time of year closes its gates at 5pm due to rangers patrolling for poachers, so that is an issue as well. I would not advise doing Old Rag OR bear fence (or any other rock scramble)hike if there is a possibility of rocks being wet/icy. You would not only be putting yourself at risk, but the SAR that has to come in to get you out if you get hurt.

Cam says:

Humpback Rocks is not in Shenandoah National Park, it’s located off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Guess that Facebook poster was a bit confused.

Casey Higgins says:

Reorganizing now. 🙂