For those who enjoy outdoor pursuits, the area around Centreville in North Virginia has plenty to offer with an abundance of hiking trails among some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. This includes the Appalachian Trail and one of the most picturesque spots in the state, McAfee Knob which offers panoramic views across the whole of the Southern Shenandoah Valley on a clear day with the Tinker Cliffs to the North, the Roanoke Valley to the East plus the Valley and North Mountain to the West. However if you prefer solitude during your hike, you may find this particular trail somewhat hectic in comparison to more secluded routes as this has become one of the region’s most popular trails simply because of the magnificent views it offers thanks to the overhang of McAfee Knob. Without stopping, this hike will take approximately 4 hours to complete its 1,740 ft elevated trail.
The George Washington National Forrest also boasts some incredible views especially from the Signal Knob hiking trail which is approximately 90 minutes from Centreville and the Metro Washington district. This is 10.5 mile trail that will take over five hours to complete its 2680 ft ascent which can be reached by one of two different approaches. The initial hike begins on the right hand side of the parking area that is indicated by yellow and orange markers – the former for the Signal Knob Trail itself and the latter for the intersecting Massanutten Trail – and starts uphill immediately curving around the mountain for 1.5 miles until you reach the first viewpoint at Buzzard Rock Overlook. The trail then turns at a hairpin that reverses in a southward direction before heading north again along a ridge past an area that offers some ideal camp sites. This eventually reaches the point where the Meneka Trail connects (this is marked with white blazes) and hikers should continue around the ridge to the right, then they will find themselves at the renowned Signal Knob lookout area where you can relax and enjoy the amazing vistas this site has to offer before beginning your descent.
Both of these hikes are ideal for those who enjoy less intense trails but if you prefer a more challenging route then you may want to consider the grueling The Mount Rogers/Grayson Highlands hike which reaches a staggering 6,600ft elevation, at the end of a very difficult forty mile hike that will take around 3 days to complete. This encompasses tough climbs among the tallest mountains in the state across creeks and open territory inhabited by wild ponies; however the fantastic views are worth any hardship endured along the way. It is worth remembering that due to the elevation levels, the weather conditions can change dramatically over 5000+ft so it would be prudent to check the forecast in advance to ensure you do not get into any unexpected difficulties as a result. On the plus side, you may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of a black bear while hiking on any of these east coast trails as they are present in the many of the forests and national parks including the Shenandoah National Park.