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.
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.
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.
For more information on the Leave No Trace principles, check out https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles.
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!