You’ve Rented a Cabin—Now What?
Using a rental cabin as a base is a perfect way to spend a few days exploring Luray/Page County’s multiple outdoor recreation opportunities—not by car—but by canoe, horseback, bicycle and boots on the ground.
Outdoor recreation in the area can be as challenging or as moderate as you choose. While many organized events are available—including adventure races, triathlons, and mud runs—a purely recreational hike, float or ride at your own pace can make for an epic adventure. Here’s a sample itinerary:
Day 1—Float the River
The Shenandoah River has silently witnessed generations of American history—from Indians who built fish traps in it to explorers who crossed it, to the soldiers who fought near it. It is a changeable river, with a character that can be flat, calm and serene or loud, fast and bumpy.
For your exploration, rent a canoe, kayak, raft or tube from Shenandoah River Outfitters, Shenandoah River Adventures, or Downriver Canoe Company and drift the South Fork of the river. Typically you choose from several distance options, and the outfitter shuttles you upriver where you put in and float back at your pace. Trips can range between three and 40 miles. During mid- to late summer, remember to ask the outfitter about the water levels before booking a trip.
If you want to do some serious fishing on the river, contact Long's Hunting and Fishing Outfitters/Guide Service. They can set you up with all the necessary gear, licenses, bait and advice you’ll need to stretch your line.
In the market for river gear? River and Peak Outfitter in nearby Front Royal sells quality kayaks, paddles, accessories, apparel, camping supplies of every stripe, etc. They can even ship gear to you while you are hiking the Appalachian Trail, or any other long trail within the U.S.
Finally—canoeing, swimming and a sandy beach in the shadow of Skyline Drive can be enjoyed at Luray’s Lake Arrowhead.
Day 2—Mount Up!
Fort Valley Ranch offers guided horseback trips, with their mounts or yours, in the pristine Massanutten Mountains of the National Forest. You can ride miles of marked trails on the Ranch as well. In addition to riding, multi-day Ranch Packages in their bunkhouse cabins are available.
Jordan Hollow Stables is located in Stanley, just a bit south of Luray. Owner Lisa Cubbage said, “Your experienced guide will take you on well-maintained 150 acres of winding trails through a beautiful wooded area near the border of Shenandoah National Park. Our quiet, breathtaking trails are shared by various wildlife that roam the property. Cross the pure waters of Hawksbill Creek and ride through beautiful country fields surrounded by a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge.”
Horseback and pony rides are also available at Skyland Stables (mile 42.5 on Skyline Drive) seven days a week until November, weather permitting
If you rent a horse there you must ride the guided trip—no going off on your own. But you can also bring your own horse and go off on other trails. With more than 180 miles of trails open to horseback riding (yellow-blaze trails only) count on finding spectacular views, deep woods and seclusion.
Need to look into horse boarding or instruction/training—Contact River Hill Stables.
Day 3—Choose Your Hike
Up for a hike? George Washington National Forest is minutes west of Luray, and Shenandoah National Park (including the Appalachian Trail), is nine miles east of town. In the national forest, one rewarding jaunt near Luray is a 5.2-mile up and back on Kennedy Peak Trail, where you can climb into a fire tower and see spectacular views of Page Valley and the Shenandoah River.
Shenandoah National Park has more than 500 miles of hiking trails. (Be aware there is a $30 per vehicle fee to enter the Park, good for seven days.) A breakdown of many trails appears here. You can also find many maps and trail guidebooks at Visitor Centers on Skyline Drive (Dickey Ridge, between MPs 4 and 5, and Byrd Visitor Center, MP 51.) One of the most popular family hikes in the Park is Dark Hollow Falls. Find the trailhead at MP 50.7 on Skyline Drive. The trail is a bit steep, but only 1.4 miles down and back. The view of the waterfall will thrill you and your children.
For more information about hiking, or to shop for any outdoor gear you need, stop in at Appalachian Outfitters in Luray. This is a particularly good resource for AT thru-hikers, or virtually any other outdoor endeavor.
Day 4—Wheels Up!
If you’ve got time for a fourth day, try mountain biking at Massanutten Bike Park, about 30 minutes from Luray. The park’s downhill trails begin near the top of Massanutten Peak (2,922 feet) and are divided into Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Advanced plus jumping skills, and Expert. Use the chair lift to get up high and start a descent. There is a fully stocked bike shop on the premises, plus about 30 miles of wooded trails on the western slope of the mountain–best suited for intermediate to advanced riders. Bike rentals, shuttles and lessons are all available, too.
Scenic roads and sparse car traffic make it easy to plan casual bike rides almost anywhere in Page County, and you can always hop on the Greenway for an easy two-mile ride.
And Don’t Forget:
You’re not done yet! Get an aerial view of Luray with a visit to Bear Mountain Ziplines. They have a “Mama Bear” course that includes 7 ziplines stretching a total of 2700 feet—at speeds of up to 35 miles an hour. The last 1000-foot stretch brings you out over a meadow to land on the tower above the 3-story Bear Scramble climbing wall. There’s also a Baby Bear High Ropes course your kids will love.