The hike to Compton Peak in Shenandoah National Park is a great trail simply because of the variety of sights. This trail is a T-trail, meaning you hike to a point and have trails that go left and right. Each goes to a very different viewpoint. On the left is columnar jointing of basalt and greenstone, the result of molten lava squeezing through cracks in the earth and drying in astonishing geometric patterns. To the right is a fantastic view of part of the park from the top of Compton Peak.
Pulling into the Appalachian Trail parking lot at mile 10.5 of Skyline Drive of Shenandoah, you will see the trailhead across the street. Cross carefully and proceed up the winding trail. There are some large boulders slightly off trail that provide some decent bouldering and scrambling. Continue to the T-intersection and pick a direction: left to the columns, right to the peak. Both are relatively short trails, though one goes up the hill, and one goes down. Follow the trail, retrace your steps, and try the other branch. Neither disappoint! The columns are much larger than expected, and the exposed rocks of the peak make for an exciting viewpoint. Return the way you came, and head back to the car. The trail is well marked in both directions, so it's hard to get mixed up!