Loft Wayside to Ivy Creek

  • Highlights: Great views, Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park
  • Distance: 7.2 miles out and back
  • Elevation change: 1,130feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate/Strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: Loft Mountain Wayside parking area, Skyline Drive mile 79.5
  • Website: Shenandoah National Park 
  • Beer Pairings: Three Notch’d Brewery—40 Mile IPA & No Veto brown ale

The Hike:

This hike begins at the north end of the Loft Mountain Wayside parking area. The Wayside is a great place for a pre hike cup of coffee or a post hike golden beverage. The trail is well marked and a trail map is available at the trailhead. Cross Skyline Drive and begin hiking the blue-blazed Frazier Discover Trail. The trail ascends almost immediately, climbing over 400 feet in less than .5 miles.

The Frazier Discovery Trail is a loop. As you begin the climb, you will see the return section of the loop on the left. Stay to the right at the junction for about .5 miles. The next junction will be with the Appalachian Trail. Turn left here and follow the AT heading north. There will be some great views to the left. Down below you can see Skyline Drive as it winds through the park. Massanutten Mountain is visible across the valley and the Allegheny Mountains are on the horizon.

Continue on the white-blazed AT. You will see the return loop of the Frazier Discover Trail on your left. Stay straight on the AT heading north as the trail begins a .75 mile descent from Loft Mountain. Wildflowers line this section of the trail. The AT reaches Ivy Creek which runs parallel to the trail for .3 miles. Hemlocks and mountain laurel shade this section of the trail. The AT begins to climb gaining 800’ over the next mile. At 3 miles the AT enters an opening with views of Trayfoot and Rockytop mountains and Skyline Drive. The AT comes out of the woods at the Ivy Creek Overlook on Skyline Drive, the half-way point in the hike. 

After enjoying the view, retrace your steps on the AT now heading south. Stay on the AT for 3 miles until you reach the trail junction with the Frazier Discovery Trail. There will be a cement post. Turn right and follow the blue-blazed trail down the mountain side. About .2 miles the trail comes to a large rock outcropping that towers overhead. Continue your descent staying right at the fork to return to Loft Mountain Wayside and your vehicle. The Wayside is a great place for lunch and they do serve beer.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

Three Notch’d Brewery started in 2013 with one location in Charlottesville. They now have locations in Harrisonburg, Roanoke, Richmond, and Virginia Beach. 40 Mile IPA just sounds like a great post-hike beer. This West Coast-style IPA is hopped with six different hop varieties and has a respectable 50 IBUs. No Veto is a Northern English Brown Ale made with a variety of English malts and English hops. It won a gold medal in the 2015 Virginia Brewers Cup. Try it, you’ll like it.

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