Shenandoah River State Park Loop

  • Highlights: River views, wildflowers
  • Distance: 2.7 mile loop
  • Elevation Change 310 feet
  • Trail Surface: dirt and gravel
  • Difficulty Level: Easy/moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: Shenandoah River State Park, Visitor Center parking area, park entry fee required
  • Website: AllTrails and Shenandoah River State Park
  • Beer Pairings: Backroom Brewery: Bay Nut Brown Ale & Shenandoah Sunset IPA

The Hike:

Shenandoah River State Park is located just across US 340 from its national park cousin. The park has 5 miles of Shenandoah River South Fork shoreline and over 25 miles of hiking trails. We visited on a rainy day in late March when the Virginia bluebells were at their peak.

This loop hike combines several trails. The trails are well marked and well maintained. Stop at the Visitor Center to get a trail map. From the parking area, follow a short paved path to the right of the Visitor Center. Bear right on the green-blazed Hemlock Hollow trail. The trail winds through a forest of, wait for it—hemlock trees—as it descends half a mile to the river.

At the junction, bear left on the blue-blazed Bluebell Trail. Pockets of Virginia Bluebells line this section of the trail and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River soon appears on the right. The Bluebells are in bloom in March and April. Several unmarked spur trails on the right lead down to the river.

Reach a trail junction at 1.4 miles marking the end of the Bluebell Trail. If you want to see more of the river, the River Trail continues for over 2 miles. We opted for a shorter hike on a cold and rainy day and turned left just past the campground, following signs for the purple-blazed Campground Trail.

The short connector trail passes the edge of a meadow and intersects with the park road at 1.5 miles. Turn left and follow the road uphill for about 50 yards and turn left on the campground road. In a few yards, turn right on the purple-blazed Campground Trail as it enters the forest and begins a short climb. At 2.2 miles, reach a junction with the burgundy-blazed Overlook Trail. Turn right here for a short spur trail to Cullers Overlook with some nice river and mountain views. Return to the Overlook Trail and reach the Visitor Center at 2.7 miles. Take the short path on the right to return to the parking area.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Trail Map:

Beer Pairing: 

Backroom Brewery in Middletown VA is located about 15 miles from the trailhead. This farm brewery has 20 beers on tap, indoor and outdoor seating, and a variety of pub-style food options. This farm to glass brewery grows the hops and herbs used in their beer. They host live music weekends and other events. Pete enjoyed Bay Nut Brown (5.0% ABV • 37 IBU) an English brown ale. This malty brown ale is brewed with bay leaves grown right on the farm. Kathy liked Shenandoah Sunset (6.6% ABV • 44 IBU) a hazy New England-style IPA with a nice balance of bitterness and citrus.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.