This is a nice 7 mile out and back on the AT, with really nice views to the west at several points along the way, and the spectacular 270 degree view at Mary’s Rock as your reward at the turnaround point.
I did this this hike on Saturday July 8. It was a not comfortable 88 degrees 90 minutes to the east at home, but 4000 feet up on the AT it was a spectacular 72 degrees while I was on the trail.
nope, nope, nope
The hike starts in the The Pinnacle Picnic area. The AT runs right through the picnic grounds. Park at the back of the picnic area near the bathrooms and pick up the AT headed north. It immediately climbs to the summit of The Pinnacle (third highest peak in Shenandoah), but you are only about 400 feet below the summit at the picnic grounds, so it’s not bad. At the top there is a great viewpoint to the west. Then there is a gradual descent towards the Byrd shelter, and on to Mary’s Rock. Take a nice break and enjoy the view at Mary’s Rock, then go back the way you came.
Appalachian Trail shelter
This is a very popular part of the park, so if you are looking for solitude this is not the hike for you. The picnic area will be very busy in nice weather, and the trail will be pretty busy too.