Below are 3 links to district hiking catalogs from which you can choose a hike and then look up its information in the text. To properly plan for your hike and to avoid unpleasant surprises, please read the whole description before you start hiking. The catalog needs some explanation.

Hike number. The hikes are divided into three groups corresponding to the three section of the park. North section hikes are prefaced with an "N", Central with a "C", and Southern with an "S". The hike numbers are in sequence, by section, with the numbers starting with "1" at the northern end of the section and proceeding south. Hikes starting at the parks perimeter have the letter "P" added to the section reference letter and number.

Map Number. The maps, similar to the hikes, are also divided into the three sections of the park. In addition, the map numbers begin with an "M". Thus the first map in the central section of the park is map MC-1.

CCC Creating Hiking Trails
Photo from National Park Service

Start, mile, is the point on the Drive where you will park your car. Some hikes start from a campground or other developed area; for those the mile point of the entrance road is given. A few hikes, such as those for Old Rag start outside the park at the park perimeter. As noted above their hike reference includes a "P", but their description is indicated at an appropriate reference point on the Drive. For example the hike to Old Rag summit from Weakley hollow is referenced as, Hike HC-14(P), which means that it is the fourteenth hike in the Central section of the park and it starts from the park perimeter.

Description. Three different kinds of hikes are covered. A round trip hike proceeds to its destination and then returns by the same route. If your main reason for walking is to see things, this kind of hike is as rewarding as any other; on the way back you'll see things that you overlooked before. A circuit hike proceeds to its destination and then returns, all or most of the way, by a different route. A one way hike proceeds to its destination and does not return at all. How can you do that? There are several ways:

  • • A friend drives you to the starting point, and picks you up at the end.

  • • You get out at the starting point, and your friend drives to the other end. The two of you walk the same hike in opposite directions. If he remembers, he will give you the car keys when you meet. Then you pick him up at his destination.

  • • With two cars: you drive to the start, and your friend drives to the finish; walk in opposite directions, and exchange keys when you meet.

  • • Drive both cars to the finish point. Both drivers return in one car to the start, and walk the trail together.

Distance. Trail distances have been measured using Global Positioning System (GPS) data, Geographic Information System (GIS) output and sometimes by measuring wheel, recorded to the nearest tenth of a mile.

Climb. This includes not only the net change in elevation, but also all the ups and downs in the trail, was measured with an altimeter, accurate, hopefully, to within five percent. Climb is probably the most important single indicator for novice hiker to consider when contemplating a hike, but read on.

Spring Sunset
Photo taken by Jen Johnson

Difficulty. This is a rough indication of how tired you'll get. Hikes are rated from "1" (very easy) to "8" (very difficult). The rating is based not only on distance and amount of climbing, but also on steepness, roughness, stream crossings, etc. But don't take the ratings too literally. A young athlete in training will find all of the hikes easy. A person not used to physical activity may find all of them difficult or impossible. If you are at all unsure of your ability start with the easy hikes and work up. Some twenty hikers of varying ages and ability level participated in the review of the hikes in this guide in preparation for this publication. Collectively, it was found that Heatwole's formula relating to time and difficulty was, on average, appropriate and that his advice on hiking remained as relevant as when it was first published thirty years ago.

Time required. It is assumed that you'll look at rocks and scenery and wildflowers. If your destination is a waterfall, or a viewpoint on a mountain peak, it is assumed that you'll spend a little time there. The figure is based on a formula: 1.5 miles per hour, with one minute added for each 20 feet of climb, and arbitrary additions for viewing the scenery, for rough or steep trails, and for rock scrambles. After testing several of the recommended hikes, you can adjust the listed times in accordance with your own pace.

Note: Pets are not permitted on a few of these trails. Check for "No Pets" signs at trailheads.


Hikes in the North District


Hikes in the Central District


Hikes in the South District