Hawksbill Summit Loop

  • Highlights: Great views, peregrine falcons, wildflowers
  • Distance: 2.9 mile loop
  • Elevation change: 860 feet
  • Difficulty level: Easy/Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: Hawksbill Gap parking area, Skyline Drive mile post 45.
  • Website: Shenandoah National Park 
  • Beer Pairings: Hawksbill Brewing Company—Hooray for Luray IPA & Shenandoah Sunrise Porter

The Hike:

At 4,050’ Hawksbill is the highest peak in Shenandoah National Park. This easy hike includes a stretch on the Appalachian Trail and impressive views from the summit. As with all trails in Shenandoah, this hike is well marked and well maintained. 

Begin by the parking lot kiosk and take the short spur trail to the junction with the AT. Turn left on the white-blazed AT heading south. The trail crosses over several talus slopes, piles of rock debris from the eroded rocks above. Views open up on the right. At 1.0 mile turn left on the blue-blazed Salamander Trail.

The climb begins as the trail ascends Hawksbill. Wildflowers abound in spring and summer. At 1.9 miles is the junction with the Upper Hawksbill Trail, turn left and follow this wide path to the summit. On the right is Byrds Nest Shelter # 2, a day-use shelter built with funds provided by Sen. Harry Byrd. 

Follow the trail up and to the right to the viewing platform at the summit. The valley opens up below, Luray is to the left. Mountains are in all directions. Skyline Drive winds through the park below. Two large compass dials help identify nearby mountains. Old Rag, Stony Man, and The Pinnacle can all be seen on a clear day. Peregrine falcons also nest in this area.

To return to the parking area, retrace your steps past the shelter and at the first trail junction, turn left on the Lower Hawksbill Trail. The path descends steeply for next .7 miles. We saw several deer on this section of the trail.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

A post-hike beer at Hawksbill Brewing in nearby Luray seems appropriate after climbing Hawksbill Summit. They offer indoor and outdoor seating and food trucks visit regularly. Even better, they use local ingredients when possible including hops grown in Luray.

Kathy enjoyed a cold glass of Hooray for Luray IPA, their hoppiest beer at 55 IBU. Made with Chinook, Citra, and locally-grown Cascades from Hawksbill Hop Yards it has a great nose and just the right amount of bitterness. Pete liked Shenandoah Sunrise Porter. Toasted malts and a deep rich flavor make this a great substitute for a cup of coffee in the morning.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.