Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park is undeniably a fantastic destination to get outside as a family. Here you’ll find miles and miles of hiking trails plus scenic views, cascading waterfalls, historic sites, geological features and majestic summits.
This national park is home to lots of strenuous bucket list hikes, like Old Rag and Little Devils Stairs, but also more than a few toddler-friendly hikes that are sure to please your little ones. For those with the littlest legs in your family, here are easy hikes in Shenandoah National Park they will absolutely love.
Best Shenandoah National Park Hikes with a Toddler
1. Limberlost Trail
While there are plenty of kid friendly hikes in Shenandoah NP, the Limberlost Trail is an easy hike that toddlers will love too. What’s to love about this stroller-friendly trail at milepost 43 on Skyline Drive is all the benches. There are more than 15 wooden benches – roughly every .05 mile – so littles can sit down to take a breather every now and again.
This 1.3-mile loop trail is made of crushed greenstone, not paved asphalt, so it feels more like a hike through the forest rather than a stroll in a city park. Take it slow to enjoy the green hemlocks and spruce trees along the way. Toddlers will love climbing on a geological formation called a columnar jointing. Look out for it when the trail intersects the Whiteoak Canyon Trail.
2. Fox Hollow Trail
The easy 1.2-mile Fox Hollow Trail at milepost 4.6 is a must for hiking with toddlers in Shenandoah National Park. This leafy loop trail originates across Skyline Drive from the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. Little ones will love climbing the rock piles and wandering the weathered tombstones at the Fox family cemetery, one of more than 100 family cemeteries located across Shenandoah national park.
Before you step foot on this toddler friendly hike in Shenandoah, chat with a nature-loving park ranger or wander out to the west-facing overlook behind the Shenandoah visitor center. Often you’ll see plein air painters on clear days when you can see for miles. As a point of note, dogs are not allowed on the Fox Hollow Trail in Shenandoah NP.
3. Little Stony Man Cliffs
For big views that are easy to reach in Shenandoah, complete the 1.3-mile out-and-back hike – mostly along the Appalachian Trail – to Little Stony Man Cliffs from the parking area at milepost 39.1. The elevation gain is just 190 feet and little ones will be wowed by the awe-inspiring views on this short hike in Shenandoah.
The rocky outcroppings are abundant, so take a seat and savor the absolutely stunning scenery. You’ll even find several shallow pools that fill up with rainwater. Toddlers (as well as moms and dads) may want to take off their shoes to splash around in the cool water.
4. Story of the Forest Hike
For a true walk in the woods, guide toddlers along the 1.9-mile out-and-back Story of the Forest hike. Park at the Byrd Visitor Center at milepost 51 then take the sidewalk to the trailhead to the right of the visitor center.
Many Shenandoah Park hikes offer the opportunity to see native wildlife, so keep your eyes open for white-tailed deer, barred owls and grey squirrels.
Pack a picnic lunch or pick up provisions at Big Meadows Wayside, which is next door to the Byrd Visitor Center. Here you’ll find made-to-order sandwiches, salads and to-go snacks. Plus, blackberry ice cream. This is a must given Shenandoah National Park is known for thickets of blackberries growing alongside the roads and trails.
5. Fort Windham Rocks Hike
For budding geologists (really, what kid doesn’t like rocks?), take your toddler to complete the .8-mile out-and-back hike along the Appalachian Trail to Fort Windham Rocks at Carson Mountain. Enjoy a climb on the rocks that tower more than 30 feet in the air then take in the sunshine with a snack.
Park in the Compton Gap lot at milepost 10.4 and if you have time and energy after the hike to the gigantic rocks, follow the Appalachian Trail across Skyline Drive in the opposite direction. In less than one mile, you’ll reach an intersection. Turn right for a scenic overlook at Compton Peak. Turn left for a geometric geological feature. It’s a second columnar jointing.
6. South River Falls Trail
An easy hike in Shenandoah National Park that leads to a cascading waterfall is always a winner, especially when hiking with toddlers. For littles who can manage an out-and-back hike of nearly three miles, make the trek to the 83-foot-tall South River Falls. It’s the third tallest waterfall in the park and it’s beyond dazzling.
If your toddler struggles with that distance, a toddler carrier for hiking is the perfect solution for when little legs get tired.
Start the hike from the South River Picnic Area at milepost 62.7. From here, take the meandering South River Falls Trail to the roaring waterfall. A rock ledge provides a safe place for toddlers to stop and watch the stunning spectacle. For extra mileage, continue on an extra .8-mile to the base of the falls (but don’t forget you’ll need to walk back up to the trailhead).
Resources for Hiking with Toddlers
Shenandoah NP Resources
Kids in Parks (Kid friendly brochures for the Shenandoah hiking trails)
Looking for the perfect place to stay? Don’t miss this incredible farm house: Shenandoah Airbnb
Family Friendly Shenandoah National Park Hotels on Booking.com
About the Author: Erin Gifford spends much of her time hiking the trails across her home state of Virginia and writing about them at Go Hike Virginia. Here you’ll find family-friendly hikes in all regions of the state, as well as more Shenandoah National Park hikes.