Soaring at Eagle Rock

The Appalachian Trail, and offshoots from it, offer many opportunities for incredible views. Many of the shorter trails make great, there-and-back day hikes, such as the hike to Eagle Rock, in Frederick County, near Winchester, VA.

Eagle Rock has some of the best vistas in the Great North Mountain range, and can be accessed via the Tuscarora Trail, which was re-routed in 2014 to include the Eagle Rock Trail. Now this spectacular hike can be done as either a 7.2 mile out-and-back from US48/55, or as a family friendly 2.1 mile (there and back) hike from Dry Gap VA 609.

On a fine September morning, we decided to take the shorter hike from Dry Gap. There’s a three or four vehicle parking area just off of VA 609. Leaves were just starting to turn the brightly colored reds and oranges, although most were green.

We headed up the Tuscarora Trail, which is an official bypass route of the Appalachian Trail; this trail is locally known as the “Old blue Trail,” because it is well marked with the traditional blue blazes of AT offshoot trails.

The Eagle Rock Trail and a portion of the Tuscarora Trail that was re-routed in 2014 pass through the private property of the Capon Springs Hunt Club. You’ll notice, periodically, signs posted “no trespassing,” particularly on the left of the trail as you ascend.

From the parking area, cross VA609/Capon Springs Grade Rd, then follow the blue blazed Eagle Rock/Tuscarora Trail as it climbs north towards the saddle between Great North Mountain and Spring Mountain. 

About half way in, you’ll notice a split in the trail. Stay right, remaining on the blue blazed trail as it proceeds more steeply uphill. Just before arriving at the ridge, you’ll pass through a section of Mountain Laurel. Our guide, from Mountain Trails Outfitters in Winchester, VA, noted that when you see mountail laurel, you’re at about 2000 feet elevation.

Soon, you arrive at the ridge where the trail turns left. Stay on the trail for another 70 yards to the main Eagle Rock overlook.

The payoff is well worth the ascent. Our guide explained the elevation gain as being “not too much,” which for him — a long distance runner and thoroughly fit young 20-something — I’m sure it’s not.

I was definitely out of breath, however, as well as a few younger, presumably more fit companions! It was definitely doable, and an energizing climb.
The main Eagle Rock overlook has a concrete bench and is a beautiful spot for a picnic lunch — so consider packing one (just ensure you follow the Leave No Trace principles and pack all your garbage out with you). The panoramic view here is one of the best in the Great North Mountain area, with expansive views towards the Massanutten Range and Shenandoah National Park to the east, as well as the Great North Mountain massif to the south.

As with many trails on the east coast, wear appropriate footwear. The trail is very rocky in places, so that means you need good trail shoes that provide you some ankle support and good grips.

For more information on the Leave No Trace principles, check out

Getting there: Check the map above to find your way to the Eagles Rock trailhead. I could not find a street address for the parking area! If you’re going on an organized trip with Mountain Trails Outfitters, go to 115 N Loudoun St, Winchester, VA 22601.

Hours: Daylight, or whenever!


Beginning in late September 2017, I started a series of posts about Frederick County and Winchester, VA. This is the third post of this series. To see other posts about the area, click on the label “Winchester and Frederick County” below this post.

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