OverviewHawksbill mountain is the highest mountain in Shenandoah National Park, 4051' higher than the only other 4,000' mountain in the park, Stony Man 4,011'. Hawksbill can be easily hiked along Skyline Drive. You can reach the summit in less than a mile, although you will be climbing over 700', so it gets pretty steep. The National Park Service has developed the summit of Hawksbill. As you approach the summit, you will pass by a (3) sided stone shelter, picnic benches, and at the actual summit, there is a stone wall built along the rock outcropping. From the summit, you have great views to the west, north, and east as no trees grow along these rocky cliffs. Straight ahead you have an excellent view of Shenandoah's rockiest mountain Old Rag. From the summit, you can go back the way you came, or take the Appalachian Trail route back to make a 3-mile loop. This is the most scenic route.
From Washington, D.C. area, take Interstate 66 West to US Route 29 south. Follow Route 29 to Warrenton where you follow signs for route 211. Once you go through town, you take a right to stay on 211, which is 34 miles from Skyline Drive via the Thornton Gap Entrance. At this point, pay the fee and head south for about 14 miles to the trailhead at milepost 45.6. Hawksbill can be actually be accessed from trailheads at milepost 46.7 via a less steep trail. There are fairly large parking areas at both of these entrances, and the trails are well marked and well maintained.
Red TapeFees to enter the park are required.
$30 fee for an annual pass
$15 fee to enter the park by car ($10 from December-February)
When To ClimbHawksbill can be climbed year round. However, the park, or sections of the park, may be closed if road conditions are poor. Check with the park at 540-999-3500. Dial the number, press 4, and then 1 for the weather report and road closings. Although the Skyline Drive may be closed at certain times of the year. Even in winter, the snow doesn't get too deep. The trails are heavily used and well-maintained. The visitor centers are open from March 28 to November 2.
CampingBackcountry camping in the park is allowed. There are no fees associated with backcountry camping. Permits are required and can be had in advance or can be obtained at entrance stations, visitor centers, or at park headquarters. Certain restrictions apply to backcountry camping, such as camping only allowed 1/2 mile from developed areas, 1/4 mile from Skyline Drive or trails, etc.
Potomac Appalachian Trail Club maintains (6) cabins and (7) three sided shelters in the park. The closest to Hawksbill are Rock Spring at milepost 41.1. Reservations are required and a key to the cabin can be obtained thru the mail. They can be reached at 703-242-0315 or 703-242-0693.
The National Park Service maintains lodges of which the closest are Skyland Lodge at milepost 41.7 or Big Meadows Lodge at milepost 51.3 They an be reached at 540-999-2211 or 800-999-4714.
Campfires are not permitted (except at pre-constructed fireplaces at backcountry huts and day-use shelters). Groups may not exceed 10 people. For more info consult the park website.
Mountain ConditionsCall Shenandoah National Park at 540-999-3500.
Average Temperature / PrecipitationAverages are for the city of Lynchburg. Temperatures on the summit can be as much as 10 degrees colder.
January 44 / 3.1"
February 47 / 2.9"
March 56 / 3.7"
April 68 / 2.9"
May 76 / 3.7"
June 83 / 3.5"
July 86 / 3.9"
August 85 / 3.7"
September 79 / 3.4"
October 68 / 3.4"
November 57 / 2.9"
December 48 / 3.2"