Off Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park there is a parking lot at mile 46.7 where the hike to Hawksbill Summit begins. This hike can be completed as a 2.8-mile loop or a 1.9-mile there-and-back trek. Both ways begin with the well-maintained trail on the left, which is the trail used for the out-and-back version of the hike. It is steeper and more strenuous than the longer, more gentle, side of the loop.
Grind up the relentless hillside without the benefit of switchbacks, and you'll soon come to the summit. As you approach you'll see the Byrd's Nest #2 shelter on the slope. This three-sided shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps is for day use only. Walk along the summit, taking in the different views from the summit points. Finish at the observation platform, the highest point in Shenandoah National Park.
You can either retrace your steps back down the mountain, a challenge on the knees, or head down the talus slopes (watch for falcons and deer!), taking the longer loop back. This comes out to the Lower Hawksbill lot, roughly a mile from the main lot.