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Hightop Mountain - SNP, Virginia


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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
5.6 mls N/A N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
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3.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,480 ft
Shenandoah National Park
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Park on Skyline Drive on the south site of the bridge over VA33 where the Appalachian Trail continues south. 38.35612, -78.54493

The Hightop Mountain summit out/back hike has a beautiful panoramic vista, and is also one of the lesser known summit hikes in the Shenandoah National Park. The Swift Run Gap hike start area was was crossed by Virginia Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood leading the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe expedition on September 5, 1716 as they passed into the Shenandoah Valley for the first time. Monuments to this crossing are erected on the southern side of VA33 at Swift Run Gap.

The main out and back hike from Swift Run Gap is 5.6 miles and 1,480ft of elevation gain. You can also shorten the hike by starting at the Hightop Mountain parking area on Skyline drive. This reduces the hike to 2.3 miles and 940ft of elevation gain.

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Hiker Reviews For The Hightop Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Hightop Mountain hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 03, 2017
Nice hike. We did as described. Wonderful view @ the summit. My main reason for writing is that we had wonderful coincidental interactions with so many individual (or in pairs) Northbound (NOBO) AT thru-hikers from all over the country.. We started @ the trailhead @ 7:55 AM, and began meeting them since most had broken camp earlier that morning at Hightop Hut. They were about 900 miles into their trek.

By: Kate Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 20, 2017
Spring foliage was beautiful. Great camping area if you take the trail to the left @ summit marker.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 28, 2017
We had beautiful sunny weather for this Saturday hike. Did the 5.6 mile version. Our overall assessment is that this is a great short-to-moderate length day hike with a TON of visual payoff at the top (especially during winter when leaves are off trees) for very little work. If you’re looking to introduce friends to hiking, this would be a great starter trail! Read more about our hike & see lots of photos here: https://fergusandhenri.com/2017/01/30/hightop-mountain/

By: Dan Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, January 04, 2017
I did the longer (5.6 mile) hike, and really enjoyed it. The view at the 2nd overlook is fantastic. Navigation on this hike is straightforward, although a sturdy pair of hiking boots is advisable. Once you cross Skyline Drive (mile 1.3), it's a steady climb until you reach the top, but not too difficult.

By: Jen Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 30, 2016
We did the full 5.6m out and back and thought the distance and effort required was just perfect for a couple hours on an unseasonably warm day. I was worried we missed the peak foliage due to Heather's 10/24 comments, but other than a few bare trees it was gorgeous. The view from the overlook is quite expansive. We were fortunate there weren't too many people up there given the outcropping isn't as spacious as others. The first mile and change on the AT to the Hightop Mountain parking area was a pleasant warmup -- I think we would have felt the hike was too short without it, but it all depends on how much time you have to spend. One word of wisdom is that they really do mean the parking area across the bridge from the park entrance...it looks more like a pull over area than a parking area as it's all parallel parking. We missed it at first!

    View all 9 reviews for the Hightop Mountain hike
Late December
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