The ledges trail is a moderate, 2.2 mile hike that takes about an hour and a half to complete. I don’t think I’ve ever finished it in that short of a time because I love to explore and meander while on this hike. I’m typically here for 2 to 2 and a half hours. Check out the National Parks Service trail map to see what the loop looks like.
As with almost all parks, the address can be a little tricky. The trailhead is at the Virginia Kendall Ledges Shelter off Kendall Park Rd. The tricky part is that if you’re coming from the West, the street is called Kendall Park Rd but if you’re coming from the East, it’s Truxell Rd. Free parking is available at the shelter. You can use an interactive Google map at the end of this post for some extra help.
The Ledges: Best Kept Secrets
The Ice Box Cave
The ledges trail is littered with nooks and crannies between the rocks, but this cave takes the cake. The Ice Box Cave gets its name for the frigid cold air that rushes out from the 50 ft. deep crack. The cave is around the halfway point of trail, offering a perfect spot for a break on a hot summer day. When I was in high school, my friend and I were able to crawl back in it, but now the park closed it off to protect the bat population that lives in there. Here’s a taste of high-school Haley, circa 2011. You’re welcome.
The Scenic Overlook
Along with a great hike, the ledges also offer a beautiful overlook for visitors to enjoy. It stretches for miles and on a clear day, you can see a water tower way off in the distance. But the greatness doesn’t stop there- the overlook faces west, so cuddle up on a cozy blanket or tie your hammock between two trees to watch a gorgeous sunset.
Here’s a fun fact: before the ledges were part of the national park, a farmer, William Ritchie, owned them. Sometime in the late 1800s and early 1900s, someone went back into the ledges and carved petroglyphs (rock carvings) in the sides of the sandstone. Rumor has it that the artist chiseled headstones for a living. No one knows for sure who did it- it could have been Ritchie, one of his relatives or someone else entirely. See if you can find the two silhouettes and horse the anonymous artist carved! Be sure to share your pictures with me on Instagram or Twitter with #CelebrateCVNP.
What to Wear
The right shoes are essential for a great hike. I’m prone to twisted ankles and this trail is pretty rocky, so I wear hiking boots or Chacos, both of which are supportive and protective. Tennis shoes will do as well, but definitely avoid flimsy flip flops! As far as your clothes go, any sort of athletic wear is great; I wore athletic shorts and a cotton tee for my most recent hike. I say wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and allows a little flexibility.
What to Bring
A water bottle, camera and maybe a snack is all you need for this calm hike. A hammock would be fun too if you want to find a spot to relax between two trees.