This 2.7-mile loop takes you directly to the peak on the Hawksbill Summit Trail
and then takes the less aggressive Salamander Trail
back down to the AT for a return to the parking lot on the Hawksbill Gap Trail
. The Hawksbill Mountain is the largest peak in the park and the 360° views at the top are some of the best to be found in the park.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
This loop starts with the Hawksbill Summit Trail
that begins at the Lower Hawksbill Parking lot. The trailhead is a large white oak tree and from that point going forward this is an extremely steep 1.5-mile journey to the peak. At the top, you'll reach the day use shelter and the extremely photogenic "Byrds Nest" is just 50' past that.
After resting your legs at the top, you start descending for 300' on the Upper Hawksbill Trail
until you reach the post marking the Salamander Trail
that starts on the right. This trail leads back out to the ridge line for more magnificent views before dropping down into the valley. After about 0.8 miles, you'll reach the AT and follow that out of the forest and along a rocky ridge. There are a couple of spots where you are actually hiking on rocks so be careful with your footing.
After the rocky area, you'll go back into some forest until you reach a fork. Take a right onto the Hawksbill Gap Trail
, which will lead you back to the parking lot.
Typical Shenandoah Park flora and fauna.