3 Year Anniversary Weekend Hiking in Shenandoah National Park

This past weekend, Matt and I enjoyed a wonderful long weekend away to celebrate our wedding anniversary!

shenandoah national park hawksbill summit

Hard to believe it’s been 3 years since we tied the knot. <3


We celebrated by spending the weekend in and around one of our favorite spots – Shenandoah National Park. We’ve been hiking that park together now for 10 years (whoa), and our engagement even went down at the top of one of the mountains, so it’s safe to say it’s “our place.”

shenandoah national park view

The Shenandoahs put on their best face for our visit. The weather absolutely amazing all weekend, and the trees are starting to change, making everything even more vibrant and beautiful than usual.

lake sherando stream

Each year on our anniversary we’ve been staying in this area but mixing up our location slightly. For our first anniversary, we went back to Rosemont Manor (our wedding venue) and then on to Fort Lewis Lodge, where we did a mini-honeymoon right after our wedding. For our second anniversary, we stayed at the adorable Sugar Tree Inn. And this year, our location of choice was a cute and cozy B&B called The Iris Inn.

iris inn


Beautiful views while porch sittin’ and a great breakfast, too. We loved it!

the iris inn breakfast

the iris inn views

We spent most of the weekend hiking because the weather was so amazing. We drove down from DC on Saturday afternoon and headed right to Shenandoah National Park for a little late afternoon/early evening hike up Hawksbill Mountain. The summit is the highest peak in the whole park at 4,050 feet, and we had never hiked it before – time to change that!

hawksbill mountain summit

Sidenote for my fellow Virginia hikers – my mom got us this awesome Hiking Shenandoah National Park book (affiliate link) for Christmas last year and it has come in so handy. It groups hikes in terms of mile on Skyline Drive (the main drag through the park), and also notes best hikes for views, waterfalls, families, etc. and short hikes, long hikes, and so forth. Highly recommend!

This hike was short – only about 2 miles round trip (straight up and then straight down, basically) – which was perfect since we knew we didn’t have a ton of daylight left. By the time we got up there, it was so lovely we decided to stay and wait for the sunset. Sunset on a mountain top = basically the most amazing thing ever. So peaceful.

hawksbill mountain summit

hawksbill mountain shenandoahs

hawksbill mountain sunset

hawksbill mountain sunset

hawksbill mountain sunset

hawksbill mountain sunset

As soon as the sun said its final goodbye, we raced back down the trail in the remaining light. We made it back to the car just before it got totally dark, which was good since we didn’t plan ahead and bring a headlamp!

Sunday’s adventure was a horseback ride via Rebel’s Run at Afton Mountain! We booked this adventure through our B&B, and didn’t know much about it besides that we should report to the stables (about a 15 minute drive away) at 10:30 a.m.

rebels run afton mountain horseback riding

It ended up being so much fun! Matt and I were the only ones going that day, so it was just us, the stable owner (Mimi), her dog, and one of her best students (a sweet 10 year old girl). We started the ride in the woods on some beautiful shaded trails, and about 20 minutes later we popped out in a pasture.

rebels run afton mountain horseback riding

rebels run afton mountain horseback riding

Then, we stopped at a winery – Afton Mountain Vineyards! The others hung out with the horses and relaxed while Matt and I got to go inside and do what we pleased – which was obviously a wine tasting!

Afton Mountain Vineyards

After the tasting, we each got a glass of wine (Gewürztraminer for me!) and headed outside to their picnic tables to enjoy the view.

afton mountain vineyards scenery

We also got some food since it was lunchtime!

afton mountain vineyards scenery

Lunch of champions – baguette + sausage + cheese + wine. It was perfection.

afton mountain vineyards lunch

After lunch, we headed back out on the horses! I love horseback riding – so much fun, and the horses they gave us were very gentle and sweet.

afton mountain vineyards horseback riding

afton mountain vineyards horseback riding

Highly recommend taking a ride with Rebel’s Run if you’re ever in the area. :) Such a fun time – we didn’t want it to end!

On Sunday afternoon/early evening, we headed down to a spot called Sherando Lake which one of the other couples staying at the B&B had recommended to us at breakfast that morning. We were so glad we checked it out – the colorful trees paired with the reflective water made for an amazing sight.

sherando lake fall colors

We hiked the trail all around the lake, and then sat for awhile and enjoying the stillness and each other’s company. There’s nothing more restful for me than being in nature. <3

sherando lake autumn

As for dinner, we decided we should probably have more sausage and headed over to a spot we discovered last year and loved: Edelweiss German Restaurant! This is seriously the most random and awesome place ever – it’s right off the highway in the middle of nowhere in Virginia, and you go in and are suddenly essentially in Germany. There’s an accordion player, the lights are dim, and the restaurant is warm and cozy. Great food, too.

edelweiss german restaurant staunton

For our final day, Monday, we had a lazy morning before checking out of the B&B and heading north, back to Shenandoah National Park, for a couple more hikes to round out the trip. We decided instead of doing one longer hike to do two shorter ones with fun rock scrambles and nice views, since it was such a clear day.

First stop: Blackrock Summit! This was about a 1.5 mile loop, and the views at the top were awesome. We ate lunch (from a grocery store in town) up there, too, while enjoying the views.

blackrock summit view

blackrock summit hiking view

Our next and final stop was a bit farther north along Skyline Drive: Bearfence Mountain. This was another short hike to a beautiful summit, but it had some fun rock scrambling for a lot of it, which we love. :)

bearfence mountain rock scramble

Perfect end to a great weekend! Thanks for the awesomeness, Mother Nature. We owe you one. :)

bearfence mountain views

What’s your idea of a perfect weekend away? Mine always involves hiking/outdoorsy adventures with Matt, beautiful weather, and wine. This weekend nailed it!


  1. 1

    We stayed at the Iris Inn for our first anniversary! We are celebrating our second anniversary today! Great minds think alike. Looks like you had a beautiful weekend!

  2. 3

    Looks stunning! The perfect active anniversary weekend for you guys! Happy belated anniversary! xx

  3. 4

    What a beautiful fall weekend! Happy 3 years :)

  4. 5

    this looks lovely! i’m checking out a couple of the places you recommended now – maybe for a long weekend! thanks for sharing and happy anniversary!

  5. 6

    Happy anniversary you crazy kids! I love that you guys make time to always celebrate this! <3 Pictures look so amazing! So glad you guys had great weather (vs last week).

  6. 7

    Edelweiss is the best! The owner also has a really awesome scrapbook of a giant treehouse that he built. You’ll have to ask to see it next time you’re there! Looks like you guys had a fun weekend full of adventures!

  7. 9

    Such gorgeous pictures! I’ve hiked in those mountains before but don’t remember which trails…it’s beautiful! Happy 3rd anniversary! I can’t believe it’s already been 3 years!!

  8. 10

    Looks like a very romantic weekend!

  9. 11

    What a fun way to celebrate your anniversary!

  10. 12

    What a perfect getaway – the sunsets were GORGEOUS! And then you had wine too? And horseback riding? Sounds so nice and romantic. Hope you enjoyed and came back refreshed :)

  11. 13

    Where are you hiking pants from? I am in the market for a new pair and yours are cute!

  12. 15

    Well done! Happy Anniversary! :D :D :D
    And two thumbs up for the French lunch at the vineyard, bravo! ;)

  13. 16

    Also I love the photo with your two hands with the rings and the sunset, so cute!

  14. 17

    These pictures are beautiful, and made me miss fall in Virginia so badly! Thanks for sharing. Happy Anniversary!

  15. 18
    Roadrunner says

    Lovely way to celebrate your anniversary. Congratulations!

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