Hiking Project Logo

Hawksbill Mountain Loop

  4.3 ( 35 ) Favorite


2.7 mile 4.3 kilometer loop


Ascent: 608' 185 m
Descent: -649' -198 m
High: 4,027' 1,227 m
Low: 3,390' 1,033 m


Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 24% (14°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Larry W. Brown

This 2.7-mile loop takes you directly to the peak and then takes a less aggressive way back down.

Larry W. Brown

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


This 2.7-mile loop takes you directly to the peak on the Hawksbill Summit Trail and then takes the less aggressive Salamander Trail back down to the AT for a return to the parking lot on the Hawksbill Gap Trail. The Hawksbill Mountain is the largest peak in the park and the 360° views at the top are some of the best to be found in the park.


This loop starts with the Hawksbill Summit Trail that begins at the Lower Hawksbill Parking lot. The trailhead is a large white oak tree and from that point going forward this is an extremely steep 1.5-mile journey to the peak. At the top, you'll reach the day use shelter and the extremely photogenic "Byrds Nest" is just 50' past that.

After resting your legs at the top, you start descending for 300' on the Upper Hawksbill Trail until you reach the post marking the Salamander Trail that starts on the right. This trail leads back out to the ridge line for more magnificent views before dropping down into the valley. After about 0.8 miles, you'll reach the AT and follow that out of the forest and along a rocky ridge. There are a couple of spots where you are actually hiking on rocks so be careful with your footing.

After the rocky area, you'll go back into some forest until you reach a fork. Take a right onto the Hawksbill Gap Trail, which will lead you back to the parking lot.

Flora & Fauna

Typical Shenandoah Park flora and fauna.

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, History & Background


Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In


Oct 11, 2019
Cameron Childs
Shelby and me 2.9mi
Sep 22, 2019
Maxx Dillon
Sep 15, 2019
Charlie Scharfen
Did hawksbill loop then did a down and back to lower white oak canyon waterfall 9mi
Sep 1, 2019
Joy Granados
Hike #1 of 2 day hikes after camping at big meadows campground 2.7mi — 1h 45m
Aug 30, 2019
Steve Paul
2.7mi — 15h 30m
Aug 13, 2019
Laura Merten
Aug 10, 2019
Jennifer Vance
Aug 10, 2019
Amber C

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 35 votes


  4.3 from 35 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Hike Rankings


in Virginia


334 Views Last Month
7,705 Since Mar 9, 2017



Panoramic from the top of Hawksbill Mtn.
Mar 13, 2016 near Stanley, VA
Views from the summit of Mt. Hawksbill.
Dec 10, 2015 near Stanley, VA
Let out a well-deserved celebration on Hawksbill Summit (4,050ft).
Mar 9, 2017 near Stanley, VA
The observation platform on Hawksbill Mountain, the highest point in Shenandoah National Park, elevation 4,050 feet.
Apr 2, 2016 near Stanley, VA
Hawksbill Summit looking north.
Jun 1, 2016 near Stanley, VA
Looking West from Hawksbill Summit.
Sep 23, 2016 near Stanley, VA


Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking