Kennedy Peak is one of the higher peaks in the Massanutten Mountain Range. At the Peak there is an old shelter built during the depression as either a fire-lookout or some such, it's a decent campsite and offers a wonderful view of the Shenandoah river valley below. You can see the Shenandoah Mountains right across from you and it's quite a sight.
Option 1 - Approximately 7.5 Miles - NOT a circuit hike
Park in Camp Roosevelt picnic area parking lot. Walk back to State Highway 675, turn left and proceed to orange blazed trail on left.
0.0 The trail begins as a fire road with a gate across it.
1.0 Trail again meets SR675 - continue north on orange blazed trail.
3.0 Trail skirts west of Kennedy Peak
3.3 Look for white blazed trail on the right and follow it to summit.
3.6 Kennedy Peak, stone base for old fire tower.
Return on the same route
Option 2 - approximately 5.2 miles - NOT a circuit hike
From Camp Roosevelt, drive east on SR675 to ridge top (1.6 miles east). There is room for several cars to park on either side of the road.
0.0 Locate orange blazed trail on north side of road.
2.0 Trail skirts west of Kennedy Peak.
2.3 Look for white blazed trail on the right and follow it to the summit.
2.7 Kennedy Peak, stone base of old fire lookout tower.
Return on the same route.
Option 3 - approximately 9.2 miles - Circuit Hike:
0.0 From SR 675, near Camp Roosevelt, the trail begins as a fire road with a gate across it.
At the Equipment Shed, go straight ahead on the yellow blazed trail.
4.8 Turn right on the orange blazed trail.
5.6 Take white blazed trail to Kennedy Peak.
5.8 Kennedy Peak, stone base of old fire lookout tower.
To return, come down white blazed trail.
6.1 Turn LEFT on orange blazed trail.
8.5 At Highway 675, turn right and reenter the forest on orange blazed trail. Follow orange blazed trail back to Camp Roosevelt.
9.2 Camp Roosevelt.
The options for hiking were borrowed from the Lee Ranger District website, for more information go to http://www.southernregion.fs.fed.us/gwj/lee/forest/recreation/hiking/popular_hikes.shtml
Edinburg is the closest town to the National Forest entrance. The following information is also from the Lee Ranger District website (see link in "Overview" section).
From Edinburg, go southeast on VA 675 for 9 miles. From the Massanutten Visitor Information Center, go north on FR 274 for 9 miles, then .1 mile east on VA 675. From Camp Roosevelt, take VA 675 east to Edith Gap at top of Massanutten Mountain.
The area is a National Forest, so there are no fees to climb, camp, or park at the trailhead, just make sure you have an AT sticker or something proclaiming your mountainclimbing love on your car so the Rangers don't put an abandoned vehicle notice on it if you are up there for more than a few days. As always, be respectful of the wildlife, and this particular National Forest seems to cultivate lady slippers which are an endangered plant, so don't pick them or blaze through them if you can avoid it.
When To Climb
The best times to climb of course are in the early spring (May and June) and later summer (August and September). Of course, in the summer and times where the weather is nice, there may sometimes be more campers with you than you would like and occasionally people wven walk their dogs on the early section of the trail, but it is a National Forest so you can go anywhere to camp away from those people.
Personally, I climbed the Kennedy Peak in March and it is tougher than usual if there is snow on the ground. In my case there was about two feet of it. Snow instantly makes the Kennedy Peak trail (rated moderate) into a difficult climb. However, there was no one else on the trail or at the peak and if you're used to huge snow-capped mountains this should offer no problem.
The area is a National Forest, so you can more or less do whatever kinds of wacky back country camping you want to do. It's a good idea to follow Leave-No-Trace rules or some such in order to keep everything pristine for those who come after you, though, so don't go crazy. If there isn't a sign posted at the trailhead prohibiting back country camping you can camp there. You can park at the trailhead no problem, though there isn't much space at some of them. I believe you can also park at Camp Roosevelt and hike to the trailhead, but you'd be better off checking around that Lee Ranger website I posted above.
The Lee Ranger District has up-to-date information usually and can be contacted at:
Lee Ranger District
109 Molineu Rd.
Edinburg, VA 22824