It’s a nature-lover’s buffet in Shenandoah County, Virginia. Lush forests, rocky ridgelines, and pristine waterways await—and you don’t have to be a marathon runner or adrenaline addict to enjoy them. From guided bucket-list experiences like tandem skydiving over the Shenandoah Valley and climbing Kennedy Peak on horseback, to a relaxing fly fishing sojourn along the North Fork of the Shenandoah, there are options for everyone. Immerse yourself in the Appalachian outdoors on these top adventures in Shenandoah County.
1. Paragliding Over Seven Bend
Paragliders and hang gliders will love soaring over Shenandoah County in serene silence. A launch site on Massanutten Mountain near Woodstock Tower is a favorite of experienced hang gliders and paragliders for favorable launch conditions. Recent site improvements have been made by the Capital Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association. Another perk—amazing views of the Seven Bends area of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.
2. Skiing and Snowboarding at Bryce Resort
An even mix of beginner and intermediate slopes at Bryce Resort make it the perfect getaway for couples, families, and groups with varied levels of experience. Snowmaking capacity at 100 percent translates into plenty of skiable terrain all season long. Even non-skiers can get out on the mountain on three 800-foot lanes of snow tubing at Ridge Runners Tubing Park.
3. Fly Fishing on the North Fork of the Shenandoah
Shallow water, riffles, and bedrock ledges make for ideal conditions to go fly fishing for smallmouth bass on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Largemouth are the prize in the deeper pools and slower eddies, while muskie are stocked annually at several sites along the river.
4. Hiking the Ring of Fire
Whether you choose to hike a section of Massanutten’s red-blazed Ring of Fire trail or backpack the entire 70-mile loop, you’ll love the expansive views across the Fort and Shenandoah valleys below. Be prepared for rocky, technical sections, limited water sources, and equestrians and mountain bikers sharing the trail.
5. Hiking to Woodstock Tower
Sunrise and sunset are ideal times to make the short walk to Woodstock Tower. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935, the tower platform stands 2,000 feet over the Seven Bends of the North Fork, with 360-degree views of Woodstock, Fort Valley, and, on clear days, Shenandoah National Park to the east.
6. Mountain Biking the North Mountain Trails
A challenging 12-mile loop ascends North Mountain for a technical ride on tight singletrack designed for intermediate to advanced riders. Across the ridgeline, you’ll alternate between fast and flowy sections and technical terrain with rock and boulder outcroppings. Tight switchbacks and creek crossings greet you on your descent to a fire road that leads back to the trailhead.
7. Horseback Riding at Fort Valley Ranch
Set up basecamp at Fort Valley Ranch to ride miles of trail along the flanks of Massanutten Mountain and through George Washington National Forest on guided horseback trail rides. The area’s rich history dates back to the mid 1700s when George Washington first surveyed the valley. Union and Confederate troops waged battle here during the Civil War, and the country’s first Civilian Conservation Camp, Camp Roosevelt, was established nearby to support construction of the Massanutten Trail. Explore the area on one-hour, half-day, and full-day rides, then reserve a campsite or cabin back at the ranch to stay the night.
8. Kayaking the Shenandoah River
A relaxing paddle down the majestic Shenandoah River provides Appalachian Mountain views around every bend. With no more than Class I-II riffles to navigate, you can sit back and enjoy the herons and bald eagles gliding overhead.
9. ATV Trails in George Washington National Forest
Ride the ATV trails at Peters Mill Run and Taskers Gap for some of the best off-roading in the southeast on Virginia’s largest public ATV trail system. Over 12 miles of trail at Peters Mill Run is equally divided between easy terrain and more challenging trail with steep climbs, big rocks, and ledges. Ride Taskers Gap for up to 40 miles of mostly hard-packed, intermediate trails and ridgeline views to the valley below. Camp nearby at Little Fort Campground or Camp Roosevelt and Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Areas.
10. Ziplining at Bryce Resort
Soar 90 feet above Bryce’s ski slopes and chairlifts on the resort’s summertime Zipline Adventure. Views along 11 different ziplines are spectacular, with trained guides assisting from beginning to end. But don’t stop there. Afterward, there’s golfing, mountain biking, tubing, mini-golf, and more at this four-season resort.
11. Skydiving Over New Market
What’s even more thrilling than Shenandoah County’s rolling mountain vistas? The bird’s-eye perspective you’ll get as you jump out of a plane on a tandem skydive with Skydive Shenandoah. After a thorough orientation, you’ll board your aircraft with a state-of-the-art harness system to keep you safely attached to your instructor for the freefall and parachute drop. The instructor takes charge of the landing, so you can focus on your starring role in your in-flight video.
Written by Ann Gibson for RootsRated Media in partnership with Shenandoah County.