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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
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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: Meg Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 08, 2018
I enjoy this hike. Itís quick and has a great view at the top. However, as a note, starting at the Hightop parking area will not make this a 2.3 mile hike like the description says. Itís definitely over 3 miles round trip, which isnít bad unless youíre in a time crunch.

By: Medic-G Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 21, 2018
Took advantage of one of the few NPS Fee Free Days this year and choose this hike because my wife said she wanted to do a hike with a view. We did the hike as described and didn't do the shortened version.

The overall description of this hike is accurate. The view at the first overlook is minimal and in the summer with full foliage it would be even less. So, a limited view at the first overlook. The second/main overlook does have good views. The clear spring day made the distance we were able to see very far.

I would say the difficulty rating is accurate.

The solitude rating may be a little high. I do realize there usually isn't too much solitude on hikes within the SNP especially on a Saturday when there is no entrance fee. When we crossed the drive at the Hightop parking area there were 7 cars parked in the parking area. We passed several people hiking down while we were hiking up and encountered a group of several college aged kids and another pair of hikers at the main overlook (top). On our way down (approximately noon), we passed quite a few people and there were 18 cars in the parking area and along the drive.

In conclusion, the views were good on the clear spring day. The trees were starting to bud and there were some flowers along the trail. Glad we hiked this before noon as I am sure the overlook was quite crowded later in the day.


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 31, 2018
We did this as a quick warmup overnight backpack for the coming season...the dog is also still recuperating from a foot injury! We parked at the Swift Run Gap entrance just to add some extra distance. Took us about an hour to hike up to the top, and we ran into a few people because the weather was so nice. There are actually a couple campsites near the summit...we stayed at one just off the trail near the overlook, but there is also a really nice spot if you follow the faint trail up to the true summit near the remains of an old firetower. It's nice and grassy up there. We had a nice sunset and breakfast the next morning and then were back at the car around 930. This is a great quick hike with a really nice payoff view.

By: Jamey Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 12, 2017
This is a great little hike. The ascent is a steady but moderate climb, with several interesting rock formations. The view from the summit is one of the best in the park.

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.

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Late December
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