Shenandoah National Park is absolutely breathtaking. Our timing in late October was absolutely perfect and the leaves were a mix of oranges, yellows and pops of red. There are countless mountains and trails to choose from. However, Upper Hawksbill Trail is what we chose because it is one of the easier trails while also paying off dividends in views. A 2.2-mile hike, this is the easiest route for the tallest mountain in Shenandoah National Park.
We started our hike early in the morning so we could have the summit to ourselves. Surprisingly, we did for a good while! The first part of the trail is wide and develops into a gradual slope, which makes for relatively hiking. Plus, there are spots where you can take breaks by sitting on large rocks. Expect plenty of trees, so you won’t be able to see anything until you’re at the summit. Personally, the hike did not take as long as we thought. I remember Johnny and our friend Toan being a bit surprised when we encountered someone on their way down who said we were “almost there.”
At the top, breathtaking views will surround you. The day we did our hike, the clouds hung low, so it made for some epic photos. I recommend packing snacks or maybe a small meal, such as a sandwich, to enjoy at the top. The three of us spent the majority of our time at the top taking in the views. We were definitely blown away by colors and knew we chose the right time to make this trip. Also, I recommend going on a weekday if at all possible for a quieter experience. The summit has lots of rocks and a few safe places to take epic photos where you appear more “on the edge.” We definitely had fun soaking up the fall foliage and experiencing what Shenandoah had to offer!
For this hike, we collaborated with Outdoor Voices to make sure we were properly dressed. Plus, I couldn’t resist the fall colors, including a beautiful hunter green. My leggings let me move however I needed to while being comfortable. I never had to adjust them. I layered this thin, but warm, mock neck long sleeve over a sports bra. This was ideal once we got to the top where it was warmer and I shed my sweater. Also, these training shoes were perfect. No burning arches, which is a big deal for me. They’re beautiful and work well as stylish sneakers, but don’t let their looks fool you. Johnny chose these comfortable sweats, which in addition to working out in, he calls his “weekend pants.” Also, I’m actually a big fan of his pullover. Trust me, the fabric is so so soft.
‘Interestingly enough, the way down was much harder on my knees, which are technically still injured from my figure skating days. Luckily, Johnny is always more than willing to carry me anywhere, ha! What a gentleman.
For our Shenandoah trip, we stayed in Luray, Virginia. Luray is famous for its beautiful underground caves, which we sadly didn’t get to visit because of trip logistics and rain. While it’s a little less than an hour away from where we ended up hiking, it’s the most charming little town. You can bet there is a charming hotel to match. Hotel Laurance graciously hosted us in a spacious two bedroom suite. I always do research and try to pick hotels with a little bit of history and plenty of charm. Hotel Laurance is the epitome of that. There are 12 rooms and each one is unique. One of my favorite aspects is the bright and airy decor. Not to mention, the natural light and full kitchen! Plus, the suite has plenty of space.
The attention to detail in each room is truly incredible. The three of us were each able to have enough space to work, yet enjoy each other’s company. Plus, I love the unique artwork throughout the suite. The bathroom has classic subway tiles and the shower comes with shampoo, conditioner and body wash. This makes for a lighter beauty bag because I just need to pack my basic skincare routine and makeup.
Hotel Laurance is steeped in rich history. Originally built in 1830, it was intended to be a mercantile establishment but turned into a hotel in 1883. Also, worth mentioning is how the hotel doesn’t use traditional room key cards. I love this! There is a code you punch in to enter the room, which is awesome since I always lose cards, anyways! Despite being a small town, there is quite a bit to do in Luray. The caverns being the main draw. However, the views of the mountains are equally captivating.