"Friendly By Nature”

Harrisonburg, Va.

Located a half-hour to the west of the Appalachian Trail’s Swift Run Gap trailhead in the Shenandoah National Park, Harrisonburg welcomes hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Honored with the Great American Main Street Award in 2014 for its vibrant revitalized downtown, Harrisonburg is known as “The Friendly City” due to locals’ warm hospitality. A list of volunteers offering free transportation from the A.T. to the city is maintained by Walkabout Outfitter (540-434-9900).

Downtown Harrisonburg is filled with locally owned and ethnic restaurants, coffee shops, craft breweries, entertainment venues, museums, art galleries, and boutique shops. Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center connects the historic downtown to James Madison University. The downtown area frequently hosts special events and festivals, such as Taste of Downtown in March, the Rocktown Beer & Music Festival in April, and the International Festival in October.

Harrisonburg is a gateway to some of our country’s true national treasures, including the beautiful Skyline Drive and the famed Shenandoah River. Nearby are George Washington and Jefferson National Forests that provide more opportunities to get outside and play.

Known as the sweet spot in the Shenandoah Valley for all levels of cycling, Harrisonburg received a Bronze Level Ride Center ranking by the International Mountain Biking Association. It was also ranked by Backpacker Magazine as a prime location for families to “beat nature deficit disorder.”

In addition to welcoming Trail visitors for a respite and a unique taste of Virginia culture, Harrisonburg hopes to motivate local residents to enjoy what America’s wilderness experience has to offer.

For more information, check out www.downtownharrisonburg.org and www.VisitHarrisonburgVA.com.


These businesses support the Trail by taking part in the A.T. Community Supporter program.

Featured Local Hikes

Pond surrounded by lush greenery with pedestrian bridge in background

Photo courtesy of Edit J. Carrier Arboretum


Edith J. Carrier Arboretum

  • Located on the James Madison University campus, the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is made up of 1.8 miles of trails that include a rock labyrinth, children’s play area, and pond. It is the perfect spot for families visiting Harrisonburg.

Massanutten Ridge Trail

  • Thirty minutes east of Harrisonburg, this 4.7 mile out-and-back trail is generally considered a challenging hike. It follows a ridge line that includes a rock scramble and leads to the summit of Massanutten Mountain for sweeping views above the ski slopes.

High Knob Fire Tower

  • This moderate trail offers a peaceful 2.7 mile out-and-back hike to an old stone fire tower. Sitting on the border between Virginia and West Virginia, the tower provides 360-degree views.


Get Involved

Potomac Appalachian Trail Club

Potomac Appalachian Trail Club

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) has enhanced the mid-Atlantic outdoor experience since 1927, including 240 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The PATC maintains trails, shelters and cabins, and they make maps and guidebooks for outdoor adventurers. Learn more and become a member today at patc.net.

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

ATC Volunteer Program

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is always looking for dedicated volunteers to help maintain the A.T. and assist in our visitor center and headquarters. Opportunities range from greeting visitors and providing information about local hikes to joining a Trail crew for week-long maintenance trips, gaining first-hand experience in what it takes to keep the A.T. open and enjoyable for millions each year. Learn more at appalachiantrail.org/volunteer.