If you’re looking for a short hike in Shenandoah National Park to do with kids, the Turk Mountain Trail is a great option. This 1.1-mile (1.8-kilometer) trail commences across Skyline Drive from the Turk Gap parking lot. A stone marker indicates the way to the summit, the first 0.2 miles (300 meters) running along the Appalachian Trail south.
One of Shenandoah National Park’s Most Surprising Short Hiking Trails
When you get then to the intersection, bear right for the Turk Mountain Trail to the summit, while the Appalachian Trail continues to the left.
The first third of the trail winds gently downhill, after which it suddenly starts ascending. It will continue to climb all the way to the summit, including a few rocky switchbacks at the very end.
After 1.1 miles (1.8 kilometers), you reach a marker stating that you’ve made it to the summit of Turk Mountain. Truth is, however, that you can carry on for a little bit. The summit marker is surrounded by bushes and offers no view whatsoever. A short rock scramble leads you to a pretty amazing vantage point.
Offering surprising 180-degree views over the Shenandoah Valley in front of you and the Blue Ridge Mountains to your right, this is exactly why I loved this hike so much. To be honest, I didn’t expect much from a short hike like this. The summit views, though, instantly proved me wrong—the Turk Mountain Trail makes for a very rewarding hike.
This is an out-and-back hike. The way down is the same as the way up. When going downhill, make sure to keep your eyes on the trail, as there occasionally are sections of loose rocks and gravel. Hiking poles could be useful.
Recommended hiking shoes: Adidas AX2
Turk Mountain Trail Photos
Turk Mountain Trail Details
The whole hike to Turk Mountain doesn’t take longer than an hour. If you are doing this with kids—it’s short enough to do that—you should count on a bit more time to get to the summit and back down.
Distance: 2.2 miles (3.6 kilometers) out and back
Hike duration: 30 minutes up, 25 minutes down
Outing duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Trailhead location: across Skyline Drive from the Turk Gap parking lot, mile marker 94.1.
Note: When Caroline and I were there, there was sign warning for nuisance bears. (Black bears get pretty hungry in the fall, so they can be more assertive in their quest for food, especially toward campers.) So, just in case, keep your eyes out for black bears and make sure to keep talking (if you’re not alone) or make noise (if you’re hiking alone) in order to alert any nearby bears of your presence. Here’s more information about bear safety.