Best Backpacking in Virginia

Two backpackers camping out on the Appalachian Trail, Dripping Rock Blue Parkway in Virginia
Shaman Mountain is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission on certain links, at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

Venturing into Virginia’s sprawling outdoors via backpacking opens the door to a world of awe-inspiring experiences. With its array of stunning landscapes and diverse terrain, this southeastern state stands as a haven for those with a passion for exploration. From the expansive vistas of the Appalachian Trail to the challenging trails of Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia offers a playground for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a newcomer eager to delve into the backpacking realm, the captivating destinations scattered throughout Virginia are sure to ignite your sense of adventure. So, gear up, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart of Virginia’s natural wonders.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park, an Appalachian gem, captivates with its sprawling wilderness. Stretching across Virginia’s landscape, this park offers a tapestry of lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic vistas. Hikers explore the famed Skyline Drive, tracing its curves to hidden trails and breathtaking overlooks. Shenandoah’s natural allure beckons adventurers to delve into its enchanting and diverse terrain.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Shenandoah National Park:

  • Breathtaking Scenery: Traverse through a diverse landscape of verdant forests, picturesque meadows, and cascading waterfalls, all while enjoying stunning panoramic views from the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Skyline Drive: Embark on the famous Skyline Drive, a scenic road winding through the park, offering access to numerous trailheads and unparalleled vistas along the way.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a variety of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and a rich array of bird species, making for a truly immersive natural experience.
  • Trails for All Levels: Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker seeking challenging terrains or a beginner looking for more leisurely hikes, Shenandoah offers a range of trails catering to all skill levels.
  • Historical Significance: Discover remnants of Appalachian history, including old homesteads and remnants of past communities, adding depth and cultural richness to your backpacking adventure.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Water Filtration System, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Map/Compass, Portable Stove

Grayson Highlands State Park

Grayson Highlands State Park, a captivating realm within Virginia’s embrace, unveils a rugged expanse of rolling hills and rocky landscapes. This park entices with its highlands that echo with untamed beauty and the presence of wild ponies. As you venture through its trails, you’ll discover a sanctuary where nature’s grandeur and the charm of these gentle creatures converge in harmonious splendor.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Grayson Highlands State Park:

  • Unique Wild Pony Encounters: Experience the enchantment of sharing trails with the park’s iconic and friendly wild ponies, creating unforgettable moments amidst the beautiful highland scenery.
  • Scenic Vistas: Revel in breathtaking views from highland vantage points, where panoramic landscapes stretch before you, offering a captivating blend of open meadows and rugged terrain.
  • Diverse Trails: Explore an array of well-maintained trails catering to varying skill levels, from leisurely strolls to challenging hikes, ensuring an adventure suitable for everyone.
  • Rustic Wilderness: Immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of the Appalachian Highlands, where the rugged rock formations, open spaces, and diverse ecosystems create a genuine sense of wilderness.
  • Stargazing Delight: With minimal light pollution, the park provides an exceptional opportunity for stargazing, allowing you to marvel at the cosmos and connect with the universe from a pristine setting.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Trekking Poles, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Water Filtration System, Layered Clothing, Portable Stove

Mount Rogers

Mount Rogers, a majestic presence within Virginia’s landscape, beckons adventurers to its summit. Rising with stoic grace, it stands as the highest point in the state. The surrounding Mount Rogers National Recreation Area unfolds in a tapestry of woodlands, meadows, and rocky crags, inviting hikers to explore its diverse trails and discover the natural wonders that grace its slopes.

Reasons To Go Backpacking at Mount Rogers:

  • Highest Point in Virginia: Summit the majestic Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia, offering a sense of accomplishment and panoramic views from its lofty heights.
  • Varied Trail Experiences: Explore a range of trails catering to different skill levels, from gentle slopes through picturesque meadows to challenging ascents that reward with breathtaking vistas.
  • Unique Ecosystem: Traverse through diverse landscapes, from dense forests to open meadows, where the rare and beautiful Grayson Highlands ponies freely roam, creating an enchanting atmosphere.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Immerse yourself in nature’s theater as you encounter wildlife such as deer, birds, and potentially even black bears, providing an opportunity to connect with the region’s vibrant ecosystem.
  • Trails and Loops: Navigate a network of trails and loops that allow for customized backpacking experiences, from short day hikes to multi-day adventures, ensuring a personalized exploration of this natural gem.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Trekking Poles, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Water Filtration System, Layered Clothing, Map/Compass

Dolly Sods Wilderness

Dolly Sods Wilderness, a rugged and captivating expanse nestled within the heart of the Monongahela National Forest, offers a distinct blend of alpine landscapes and unique ecosystems. This extraordinary terrain boasts sweeping meadows, wind-swept plateaus, and rocky outcroppings, all coming together to create an enchanting backdrop for backpackers seeking an immersive adventure in nature’s untouched sanctuary.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in the Dolly Sods Wilderness:

  • Alpine Beauty: Immerse yourself in a captivating alpine landscape featuring expansive meadows, heath barrens, and rocky vistas, creating a unique and stunning backdrop for your backpacking journey.
  • Challenging Terrain: Embark on a backpacking adventure that challenges your skills with its rugged terrain, offering both experienced hikers and novices a chance to push their limits.
  • Unique Ecosystem: Explore a distinctive ecosystem shaped by its high elevation and weather conditions, housing diverse plant species and providing a habitat for various wildlife.
  • Sweeping Vistas: Revel in panoramic views from the open meadows and rocky overlooks, treating you to breathtaking scenes that reward your efforts throughout your hike.
  • Remote Wilderness: Experience a sense of solitude and escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life as you navigate through a relatively remote wilderness, allowing for true connection with nature.

Recommended Gear: Sturdy Footwear, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Water Filter, Windbreaker Jacket, Trekking Poles, Map

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, a sprawling wilderness in Virginia, encompass a tapestry of natural wonders. Encompassing rugged mountains, serene woodlands, and meandering rivers, this vast expanse invites adventurers to explore its diverse trails and experience the charm of unspoiled landscapes. From cascading waterfalls to ancient forests, these forests offer a sanctuary where nature’s beauty reigns supreme.

Reasons To Go Backpacking at George Washington and Jefferson National Forests:

  • Diverse Ecosystems: Immerse yourself in a wealth of ecosystems, from lush forests to highland meadows, providing a rich variety of landscapes to explore during your backpacking adventure.
  • Abundant Trails: Discover a vast network of trails catering to all levels, allowing you to customize your backpacking experience to your skill and comfort, and ensuring an adventure for everyone.
  • Spectacular Scenery: Witness breathtaking vistas, serene rivers, and captivating waterfalls that punctuate the forested terrain, providing stunning visuals that make every step rewarding.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Encounter a diverse array of wildlife, from deer to black bears, adding a touch of the wild to your journey as you share the forests with these creatures.
  • Historical Significance: Explore the echoes of history within the forests, from old homesteads to remnants of past communities, offering a deeper connection to the region’s heritage during your backpacking expedition.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Shoes,Backpack, Sleeping Bag, Water Filtration System, Windbreaker Jacket, Trekking Poles, GPS Device

False Cape State Park

False Cape State Park, a hidden gem on Virginia’s coastline, reveals a pristine wilderness where nature’s rhythms dictate the pace. Bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay, this untouched paradise is a sanctuary of sand dunes, maritime forests, and marshes. Backpackers who venture into its wild expanse find a tranquil escape, where the untamed beauty of land and sea converges.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in False Cape State Park:

  • Untouched Coastal Wilderness: Immerse yourself in a unique coastal ecosystem featuring undisturbed sand dunes, maritime forests, and marshes, offering a rare opportunity to explore a pristine natural environment.
  • Secluded Beaches: Discover secluded and untouched beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, providing a serene backdrop for your backpacking adventure and a chance to unwind by the waves.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a diverse range of wildlife, including migratory birds, dolphins, and other marine life, as you explore the park’s diverse habitats.
  • Backcountry Camping: Experience backcountry camping in a remote setting, allowing you to connect deeply with nature and revel in the solitude of this coastal paradise.
  • Historical Significance: Explore the remnants of past communities and learn about the history of the area, adding depth and cultural richness to your backpacking journey.

Recommended Gear: Tent, Sleeping Bag, Insect Repellent, Water Filtration System, Hiking Boots, Sun Protection, Portable Stove

Three Ridges Wilderness

Three Ridges Wilderness, a captivating expanse within Virginia’s embrace, unfolds with its rugged terrain and diverse landscapes. Cascading streams weave through lush woodlands, leading to stunning ridges offering panoramic views. This wilderness beckons adventurers to traverse its challenging trails, where nature’s splendor and the thrill of exploration merge in an unforgettable journey of discovery.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in the Three Ridges Wilderness:

  • Spectacular Ridge Views: Revel in breathtaking vistas from the rugged ridges, rewarding your efforts with panoramic scenes of the surrounding landscapes.
  • Challenging Trails: Embark on a backpacking adventure that tests your skills with its steep ascents and descents, offering a rewarding experience for those seeking a challenge.
  • Diverse Ecosystems: Explore a range of ecosystems, from dense woodlands to babbling streams, creating a diverse and captivating backdrop for your backpacking journey.
  • Waterfalls and Streams: Discover picturesque waterfalls and meandering streams, adding an element of tranquility and natural beauty to your hike.
  • Secluded Wilderness: Escape the urban hustle and immerse yourself in a serene wilderness setting, where the absence of modern distractions allows for a deeper connection with nature.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Shoes, Backpack, Trekking Poles, Sleeping Bag, Water Filter, Windbreaker Jacket, GPS Device

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail, an iconic and storied footpath, stretches across the eastern United States, weaving through diverse landscapes and capturing the essence of nature’s grandeur. From Georgia to Maine, this legendary trail offers an odyssey of challenges and triumphs, leading hikers through rugged mountains, serene forests, and boundless beauty, forging an unforgettable journey along its historic path.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail:

  • Epic Scenic Diversity: Experience an ever-changing panorama as you traverse the trail’s 2,190 miles, passing through varied terrains, from verdant forests to majestic peaks.
  • Historical Significance: Embark on a journey that’s not just a hike but a part of American history, with sections of the trail dating back to the early 20th century.
  • Physical and Mental Challenge: Test your endurance and determination as you conquer the trail’s demanding elevation changes and experience the personal growth that comes with it.
  • Trail Community and Camaraderie: Join a unique community of fellow hikers, sharing stories, experiences, and support on this shared adventure of a lifetime.
  • Unmatched Solitude and Serenity: Seek solitude amidst the wild, escaping the chaos of daily life and embracing the tranquility of nature in its purest form along the Appalachian Trail.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Backpack, Sleeping BagWater Filtration System, Trekking Poles, Tent, Camping Stove

Virginia Triple Crown

The Virginia Triple Crown, a renowned stretch within the Appalachian Trail, introduces adventurers to a trifecta of natural marvels. Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs stand as iconic landmarks, each offering a unique perspective on Virginia’s wilderness. These rugged vistas, challenging trails, and breathtaking panoramas embody the heart and soul of outdoor exploration.

Reasons To Go Backpacking at Virginia Triple Crown:

  • Stunning Landmarks: Experience the thrill of conquering three iconic landmarks—Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs—each rewarding hikers with breathtaking views and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Panoramic Vistas: Immerse yourself in panoramic vistas that showcase the beauty of Virginia’s landscapes, from rugged peaks to sprawling valleys, creating unforgettable memories.
  • Challenging Terrain: Test your skills on challenging trails that traverse rocky terrains and steep ascents, offering a satisfying blend of physical exertion and mental triumph.
  • Appalachian Trail Adventure: Embark on a journey along a part of the legendary Appalachian Trail, immersing yourself in a trail with a rich history and vibrant hiker community.
  • Unforgettable Experience: Create memories that will last a lifetime as you backpack through a section of the Appalachian Trail that epitomizes the essence of outdoor exploration and adventure.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Shoes, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Water Bottle/Snacks, Windbreaker Jacket, GPS Device, Camping Cookware

Cranberry Wilderness

The Cranberry Wilderness, a remote jewel nestled within the Monongahela National Forest, invites explorers to a pristine haven. This wilderness area boasts untamed landscapes adorned with heath barrens, dense woodlands, and winding waterways. As you venture deeper, nature’s symphony plays on—where the whispering breeze and rustling leaves provide the soundtrack to a remarkable journey of solitude and discovery.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in the Cranberry Wilderness:

  • Untouched Wilderness: Immerse yourself in a truly remote and untouched wilderness area, offering a genuine escape from the modern world and a chance to connect deeply with nature.
  • Diverse Ecosystems: Explore a variety of ecosystems, from expansive heath barrens to dense woodlands, each providing a unique backdrop for your backpacking adventure.
  • Tranquil Waterways: Discover winding rivers and serene waterways, offering both picturesque scenes and a source of tranquility as you hike through this pristine landscape.
  • Solitude and Serenity: Experience a true sense of solitude and serenity as you venture into the heart of the wilderness, where the absence of crowds allows for an uninterrupted connection with nature.
  • Challenging Terrain: Navigate through rugged terrains and elevation changes, challenging your skills and providing a sense of accomplishment with each step of your journey.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Shoes, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Bag, Water Filtration System, Trekking Poles, Insect Repellent, Map/Compass

Related Posts:

Pier in Virginia with the sunsetting in the background.

Best Pier Fishing in Virginia

Virginia offers a rich tapestry of pier fishing experiences that appeal to both novice anglers and seasoned fishermen. With its extensive coastline and variety of

Close up of heavy duty blue multipurpose poly vinyl tarp with mental grommets and white tie rope

Best Tarps

Step into our in-depth guide to the best tarps currently available on the market. Whether you’re a lover of the great outdoors, a DIY enthusiast,

Family of hikers with backpacks walking down the stairs and enjoying the view of Zion National Park in Utah

Best Backpacking in Utah

Embarking on a thrilling backpacking adventure through the stunning landscapes of Utah is a dream come true for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Utah,