Washington, DC

Photo by Michael Martin

From an email:

“‘Tis the Season for Foliage – 5 Hiking Picks

Local guidebook authors Jennifer Adach and Michael Martin have racked up thousands of miles hiking and backpacking in the Mid-Atlantic area leading trips for the D.C. Ultralight Backpacking group and writing guidebooks for the Appalachian Mountain Club, most recently AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the Shenandoah Valley.

“Believe it or not, it is possible—you can score your fall leaf peeping fix and dodge the crowds along Skyline Drive. Some of our favorite hikes for a huge dose of red and yellow foliage are all within an easy drive of the Washington, D.C. area.

  • Shenandoah River State Park: Get river views and a woodsy walk along this hike in one of Virginia’s state parks. As you walk along the Shenandoah River, you’ll get a nice look at nearby Massanutten Mountain. Benches abound along this hike, giving you plenty of spots to stop and enjoy the day. (6.5 miles, moderate. Park fee.)
  • Strickler Knob: A rock scramble and views of the Shenandoah Valley await you at the top of this hike. Keep a keen eye out for the side trail to the Knob, which leads you up and over boulders before opening up into one of the better views in the area. (10 miles, strenuous)
  • Signal Knob: Smack-dab in the middle of this hike is Signal Knob itself, but both the climb up and down provide great views of the northern Shenandoah Valley and the town of Strasburg. Signal Knob was used by both sides during the Civil War as a key vantage point. (10 miles, strenuous)
  • Little Devils Stairs: Go into Shenandoah via the back door. The “staircase” starts outside the park, and then clambers up a steep gorge leading you along one of Shenandoah’s most picturesque climbs. Check out the Bolen Cemetery, one of the park’s more than 100 cemeteries and a reminder of those who once called this area home. (5.7 miles, moderate. Park fee.)
  • Three Ridges: If you’re up for adventure and a longer drive, Three Ridges will deliver magnificent views and a heart-pumping workout. When you get to the first of several viewpoints, you’ll agree that the effort was well-worth the reward. (13.2 miles, strenuous) (Up for a drive, but not the miles? Nearby Spy Rock is a short but stout three-mile hike that affords 360 views of the area.)”

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