George Washington National Forest: Kennedy Peak Part 2

Continued from Part 1

The Kennedy Peak loop trail features a couple great views. Going around counter-clockwise as we did, our first view was from the Kennedy Peak Trailhead, just off US675. Here you can see Shenandoah Valley and the mountains of Shenandoah National Park on the other side.

The ridge trail up to the peak is relatively flat and a little boring, to be honest, but it goes quickly. After walking 1.6 miles, you reach an intersection and climb up a rocky hill for .3 miles to the peak.

The view from Kennedy Peak’s lookout tower is amazing – you can see beautiful scenery in multiple directions. Not only do you see Shenandoah National Park’s Blue Ridge Mountains across the valley, and the meandering Shenandoah River to the east, but to the south you can also see the beautiful mountains that make up George Washington National Forest.

This is the view looking south:

And the view looking east:

Just to get some perspective from the Kennedy Peak lookout tower:

The Kennedy Peak lookout itself is a very well-built structure. It includes a sheltered area below and a viewing platform on top. The sheltered area is a great place to sit and have lunch – it’s usually quite windy at the top of the mountain! It looks like this is also a place where you can go camping.

After spending some time taking pictures and eating our PB&J sandwiches at the top, we headed on down and continued around the loop.

There were still some wildflowers around at this time in late October, including Frost Asters and Later-flowering Boneset.

We also discovered this new flower:

Canadian Thistle

Canadian Thistle, or Cirsium arvense, is a member of the  Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms June to October. It favors pastures, roadsides, and waste places. This plant was introduced from Europe via Canada and is considered a weed. You can distinguish it from other thistles because its flowering heads are smaller and its stem not as spiny.


At just over 9 miles, this loop hike is both a good workout and a great place to see the beauties of nature – both small and large! It is definitely one of my favorite hikes in George Washington National Forest.

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