Hawksbill Summit- Shenandoah National Park

Hawksbill Summit- Shenandoah National Park

Getting to Hawksbill Summit (the highest peak in Shenandoah National Park) took us 12 miles and 2 months!  That may sound crazy, but in early May we hiked Hawksbill Franklin Cliffs and it was the longest day hike we (and Penny) had been on.  It’s a loop hike which runs south on the eastern side of Skyline Drive, running along the gorgeous Rose River Falls, cuts across Skyline Drive and heads back north along the AT. We parked at the Upper Hawksbill Parking area and ended up cutting off the Hawksbill Summit from the hike due to exhaustion (see Penny panting in this final photo?!  she was SO tired) and vista-overload (no joke, this stretch of AT has so many gorgeous views you get jaded and are willing to cut off the grand finale).  Little did we know, how silly that was!

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A month and a half later, as we were heading home from our Loft Mountain camping weekend, I begged Jon to stop at the Hawksbill parking area so we could hike the up to the summit (I couldn’t get it out of my head that we had cheated ourselves from the best view in the park)!  Although exhausted from hiking the past few days, he agreed and we hit the 1.8 out and back trail to the highest peak in SNP.  This hike is easily accessible from Skyline Drive and the trek to the summit is .9 miles…straight up!  Be ready to get sweaty and winded really quickly, unless you’re a coonhound- Penny was fine.

We realized when we were 3/4 of the way up that we had turned in just 50 yards short of the summit the month before.  We must have been delirious to refuse hiking 50 more yards to see the best view in the park…but we finally got our chance!  Needless to say, the 270 degree views from Hawksbill Summit are nothing short of breath-taking.  You can see the entire valley to the south and west, the Blue Ridge Mountains to the north, and the peak of Old Rag to the east.  Talk about views!

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This hike would be excellent choice for a sunset or getting a quick glimpse of the best of what SNP has to offer when driving Skyline Drive.  Don’t be fooled though, this hike is challenging in it’s own right.

Happy Trails,

K, J & P

All photos were taken with our Sony a6000