Kennedy Peak has some of the best vistas in the region. The out and back hike ends with a spectacular 360° view from the fire tower viewing platform at the summit of Kennedy Peak. The hike itself is reasonably easy. It starts with a gentle incline along the ridge, then climbs more steeply around the western flank of the peak. If you're looking for more of a challenge, add the Stephens Trail to create a 9.2 mile 1,590 ft gain loop hike. Also before starting out take a moment to check out the paragliding launch area with easterly views of the Shenandoah River and Luray Valley.
Mile 2.4 - Turn right and follow the Kennedy Peak trail as it climbs for the remaining 0.2 miles to the Kennedy Peak fire tower.
Mile 2.6 - From the fire tower lookout platform there are expansive 360° views of the Luray Valley and South Fork of the Shenandoah River to the east, and the Massanutten Range including Duncan Knob and Kerns Mountain to the southwest.
5.2 Mile Out/Back Hike: From the fire tower retrace your route back to the parking area
on VA675 to complete the 5.2 mile out and back hike.
9.2 Mile Loop Hike: Continue north on the orange blazed Massanutten Trail then descend and follow the Stephens Trail south to the lower parking area. At the far end of the parking area the orange blazed Massanutten Trail
climbs the towards the ridge to the parking area on VA675.
Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Kennedy Peak hike:
Reviews For The Kennedy Peak Hike (5 Most Recent)
Today was perfect hiking weather, not a cloud in the sky and a high of 50 degrees or so. We had not considered the last few days weather out west when leaving Richmond. This trail was covered ( the whole way) in a combination of slushy snow, ice and a some mud / bog areas. The white ground cover made for a beautiful landscape, but tricky hiking conditions, especially on the steep down hill parts. The views from the top observation tower did not disappoint. We managed not to slip and fall, but I would not have been surprised if that had happened. We did enjoy seeing a bald eagle, deer, hawk and a bear ( from the car off route 33 on the way home) on this trail. Would definitely like to go back with no snow.
Date of Hike: Thursday, October 25, 2018
My boyfriend and I decided to check out the Kennedy Peak Trail because of the high reviews, and really, it is a lovely hike. Great views on either side of the path, lovely foliage this time of year, and great weather. Would have given it 5 stars, but I had to drop it back 4 stars because THERE ARE NO DAMN SIGNS. We spent about an hour trying to find the trail, and another half hour second guessing if this was actually the trail or someoneís driveway where we were gonna meet an untimely death by shotgun for being on someoneís property. Also, the parking for this place IS NOT parking. Itís a little pull-off at the top of the mountain. Once again, no signs until youíre on the trail itself. Also, we went the wrong way from the lookout tower. We were promised a lookout tower, but it was more of a lookout for disappointment because we spent so much time trying to find the trail that we had to turn around before getting there. My advice is donít go on this hike until youíve studied a topographical map, have hired a folksy guide that knows the area, and are open to communing with the gods to make sure youíre going the right way. Otherwise, great hike. #getsomesigns #itsnothard #goodluckfindingthisplace
Date of Hike: Sunday, May 21, 2017
Great hike. Added treat was talking to and watching paragliders as they took off from the Kennedy Peak parking area. Added this hike to my favorites even with the full green coverage. I said "Google directions to Kennedy Peak VA" and my Galaxy phone navigated me right to the trail parking. There is a brown sign with white lettering that says "Trail Parking." No actually sign at the road parking entrance saying "Stephens Trail Parking." You turn off the main road and go through a white gate that looks almost like a one lane private dirt road. That leads to an open grass and gravel area at the trail head parking. Only two cars in Stephen Trail parking.
The Stephens trail teases you for the first 3.8 miles as it is flat and rolling a little. Some small brooks with rippling water sounds. Horses use the trail so you I had to watch my step in places, but didn't bother me. I didn't encounter anybody on the 6 miles of the Stephens Trail. I started to wonder if there was going to be any climb. At the 4th mile you start up the real climb. Not bad but you'll feel it in your legs as the trail climbs to the peak. Nice laurel flowers dot the trail side as you ascend. One to two glances of mountains but no real views on the orange trail. When you get to the white Kennedy Peak trail toward the peak you'll be rewarded with "Oh wow!" type views as the trail climbs once again to the overlook station. Kennedy Peak trail is where all the other hikers pop up. They are hiking from the other parking lots.
On the way back when I hit the road bend in the orange trail I noticed a mass of people near the edge. Very friendly group. They were all watching paragliders take off. I found it so much to watch the paraglider I spent two hours sitting watching. The paragliders would also fly by and make jokes as they flew by. They land in the valley in a green open field. I'm diffidently going back.
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 16, 2016
This hike just went to the top of my list of favorite hikes! It has everything I like- amazing views, superb track (both through the forest as well as on the ridge line), just enough solitude (didn't see anyone else until I reached the tower, and then a handful of hikers coming up as I started my descent, as well as a pack of horse riders), the perfect mix of sun and shade, and a great terrain- a mix of rocky as well as smooth trail. I started my hike at 8:45 am and was back at the parking lot at 1 pm, which also included a 30 minutes lunch break at the tower. The view is simply breathtaking! The trail is pretty clear and well marked, but I was slightly confused about parking- as you approach the coordinates, the parking lot is located to the left of the road through the white gate.
I am definitely coming back to experience the fall and winters!
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 2, 2016
I really enjoyed this easy-to-moderate, medium distance trail. We started from route 675 and walked north up the Massanutten trail to the parking lot and then took the yellow-blazed Stephens Trail out the back of the parking lot and followed it 5 miles until it rejoined the Massanutten, then walked the Massanutten back to the car for a round trip on the GPS of 9.75 miles.
Finding the parking lot and trailhead could have been tricky (it is not very well signed and the parking lot is not visible from the road) except that I really studied the aerial view on Google Maps and got my landmarks down. From the west, the parking lot is at 10.0 miles on the left on route 675 after leaving route 11, up a short driveway beyond a gate. As soon as you pass Camp Roosevelt, you will see a little pull-out loop on the right. Continuing beyond this loop, you will cross the Page-Shenandoah border and maybe 50 yards further, the driveway to the trailhead goes off to the left. Coming over the mountain from the east, if you get to Camp Roosevelt, you've gone a bit too far.
The Stephens trail is fairly straight and fairly flat with a gradual climb as it skirts along the mountainside through largely open woods. I enjoyed how the flora changed from minute to minute along this trail. The last half mile as the trail turns east and climbs the mountain is a good climb up to the intersection of the orange-blazed ridge trail.
The Massanutten trail follows the ridgeline with the land sloping off on either side of you. I love this kind of walking. As you near the Kennedy Peak tower, the trail becomes rockier. Be careful of your footing especially if there are wet fallen leaves obscuring the trail. The 360-degree view is worth the hike. While we were there, scores and scores of hawks, mainly Broad-winged, were migrating by.
After visiting the tower, the trail heads downhill and becomes a jeep trail, continuing until it meets route 675 again at Edith Gap, up the mountain from where you parked. This is the only place on the trail that could be confusing. There is no signage to indicate that you should turn right on 675 and then pick up the orange-blazed trail again about 30 yards on the right. Forewarned, you won't have any trouble finding the trail. While you are there and before heading back down the hill, turn left on 675 and walk over to the hang-glider launch pad at Edith Gap for a wonderful view of the Page Valley and the Shenandoah River. You'll want to have your camera at the ready.
Except for a large and very vocal group at the tower, we had the trail to ourselves. The trail itself was torn up in places from horses and the trail was often littered with horse apples. You should expect to share the trail with equestrians. If you are unsure about hiker-equestrian etiquette, now would be a good time to Google it.