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)
Kennedy Peak is a tale of two hikes. The section of Massanutten Trail up to the old fire tower, and the view from the fire tower are great - a definite 5. The continuation of the loop on the Stephens Trail, on the other hand, is rate "poor" in my opinion. It's a long boring slog through muddy lowland trail, full of horse manure, with nothing to show for it. Do an out-and-back and forget the loop (hence the rating)
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 17, 2018
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: Saturday, June 2, 2018
Don't let Abigail fool you. She seems to be used to tour-guided, GPS tracked hikes with street signs all over the trail. If you've ever been on an unpaved nature trail such as the AT or Massanutten, you'll be fine. (Theres not supposed to be signs, theres supposed to be trees.)
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.