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Frazier Discovery Trail - Southern SNP, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
3.6 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
2.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
950 ft
Shenandoah National Park
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Park at the Loft Mountain Campstore. 38.25068, -78.66733

We were car camping at Loft Mountain to catch the fall colors and decided to do a nice short hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT) over to the Frazier Discovery Trail (FDT). We started this hike just behind the Loft Mountain Campstore as the sun was rising.

The AT is a pleasant hike over to the FDT which was waiting with 2 great vistas looking mostly to the west and northwest. Combined with some other short hikes such as Blackrock Summit (MP 84.5)  in the area would make for a worthwhile day of hiking in the Southern District of SNP.

Note: The Loft Mountain Campground closes at the end of October and opens again in early May, so you may have to park at the Loft Mountain Wayside (MP79.5 on Skyline Drive, N38.2628 W78.6658) and do the FDT from there, the loop from the Loft Mountain Wayside will be about 1.3 miles in length.

  • Mile 0.0 – The hike begins just behind the Loft Mountain Campstore in the Loft Mountain Campground and follows a short spur trail for 200 yards down to the Appalachian Trail. Parking is available at the campstore but if full go about 150 yards up the road to additional parking at the Campground Amphitheatre.
  • Mile 0.1 – Turn left on the white-blazed AT. The next mile is a pleasant walk on the AT with not much elevation gain.
  • Mile 1.0 – Begin a climb of 250' climb up Loft Mountain to the first FDT Intersection.
  • Mile 1.2 – Reach first intersection of FDT. Bear to the right on the shared AT/FDT trail, doing the FDT counter clockwise.
  • Mile 1.3 – Very quickly you will reach a short spur trail on the left for the first of 2 great overlooks. Return to the AT/FDT trail and bear left.
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  • Mile 1.4 – Reach next intersection, the blue-blazed FDT will go to the left with the AT continuing straight. Go left on the FDT and almost immediately you will reach the 2nd of the great overlooks. It will be hard not to stay here or at the first overlook to take in all the great vistas!
  • Mile 1.6 – Continue down the FDT reaching a unique overhanging rock ledge.
  • Mile 1.9 – Intersection to continue down (0.1 miles) to the Loft Mountain Wayside, bear left to continue the FDT Loop and climb up Loft Mountain back to the AT intersection.
    Note: For the shorter loop you may have to park at  the Wayside if the road to the campground is closed.
  • Mile 2.5 – Reach Intersection with AT, bear to right to head back to the Campstore spur trail.
  • Mile 3.6 – Reach Intersection of Campstore spur trail, turn right.
  • Mile 3.7 – Campstore and Parking Lot.
Late October
Frazier Discovery Trail Hike Comments
Archived Comments

By: Cooper Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 18, 2015
Easy hike with great views and TONS of wildlife. Spotted some game birds, rabbits, deer, and a timber rattlesnake all right on the trail.

By: Child of the Mountains Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
I have hiked this trail countless times over the past 35 years, the first time being too young to remember. Although at different points in my life the difficulty has changed for me, and the mountain has naturally changed through the years, the views are always worth the climb. There is always some unexpected beauty to take home as a memory along with incredible views from the top. Loft Mountain camping is always a welcome retreat, so the FDT makes for a perfect afternoon of hiking.

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