Virginia is home to 544 miles of the Appalachian Trial, more miles than any other state!
And 101 of those miles lie in beautiful Shenandoah National Park and parallel Skyline Drive.
Virginia's Northern End of the Appalachian Trail
The best time to hike this portion — 54 miles — is springtime and September through early November, making it the perfect time to see the fall foliage. Begin your hike at the border of Virginia/West Virginia in Clarke County. Many backpackers consider this portion of the A.T. perfect for spring break!
Key Areas along the Way
G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management - Fredericksburg, VA - (703) 899-4169
4,160 acres in Fauquier Co. Deer, turkey, rabbit, squirrel, grouse and wildflower sanctuary.
Sky Meadows State Park - Delaplane, VA - (540) 592-3556
Rich in history, the park has rolling pastures and woodlands, scenic vistas and a look into a bygone era. Tour Mount Bleak House and see how a middle-class family of the 1850s lived. Nature and history programs are offered during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Primitive hike-in camping, picnicking and hiking are favorite activities in this peaceful getaway on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The park offers a bridle trail and serves as an access point to the Appalachian Trail.
The best time to hike this portion — 101 miles — is springtime and September through October. The Trail is well-graded, well-maintained and gentle grades for less experienced hikers.
The park facilities close in early November through March, and snow shuts down Skyline Drive to motorists. Although cross-country skiers and snowshoers are welcome!
Key Areas along the Way
Shenandoah National Park - Luray, VA - (540) 999-3500
Shenandoah National Park is a beautiful, historic national treasure which includes the scenic 105-mile long Skyline Drive. The Park covers the crest of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains for over seventy-five miles. The Appalachian Trail roughly parallels the Skyline Drive and about 101 miles of this trail run through the Park. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails. Park Ranger programs are offered. Current list is available in the "Shenandoah Overlook". Camping is available in the Park as are modern lodge facilites at Skyland Resort and Big Meadows Lodge (www.visitshenandoah.com). Full service restaurants are at Skyland and Big Meadows plus there are "waysides" with lighter food. Enter at Front Royal/U.S. 340; Thornton Gap/U.S. 211-Luray; Swift Run Gap/U.S. 33-Elkton; Rockfish Gap/U.S. 250
Virginia's Central Portion of the Appalachian Trail
The best time to hike this portion — 225 miles — is springtime and September through October.
The Trail becomes more difficult the further south you travel, with many 2,000- to 3,000-footclimbs, crossing ridges and valleys.
The Trail follows the Blue Ridge Parkway to Roanoke, with its Virginia Explore Park at Milepost 115 off the Parkway open through October.
Key Areas along the Way
George Washington and Jefferson National Forests - Bedford, VA - (540) 291-2180
National forest extends through the Blue Ridge and Southern Appalachian Mountains, bounding north Bedford County. Elevations range from 600 to 6,000 feet. Wide variety of trees, flowering vegetation and wildlife. Park is home to more than 160 types of birds. Big game hunting, fishing, wildlife photography, camping, horseback riding and hiking trails. Special hunting, fishing licenses required.
Peaks of Otter - Bedford, VA - (540) 586-4496
The Peaks of Otter - Sharp Top, Flat Top, and Harkening Hill - have dominated the view in this region of Virgini for centuries, first attracting the attention of Native Americans who saw the area as a rich hunting ground. Famous naturalists and such notable historic figures as Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee wrote about or visited the Peaks of Otter during their lives. The summit of Flat
Top or Sharp Top offers a unique opportunity to enjoy spectacular scenic vistas and sunrises. Interpretative programs, wildlife exhibits, walking trails, self guided wildflower walks, picnic areas, campground, restaurant and lodge are available in this developed area of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Shuttle bus service close to the summit of Sharp Top is available.
The best time to hike the southern end — 166 miles — is May through October!
The A.T. travels more westerly through the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest from Roanoke County to Pearisburg in Giles County. According to the Appalachian Trail Conference, this portion of the A.T. is the most remote and less traveled.
By the time you reach Damascus, you'll probably be ready for civilization again or you can begin your hike on the Virginia Creeper Trail or Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail.
Key Areas along the Way
Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway - Wytheville, VA - (276) 228-5551
Passing through national forest and private land, this 16-mile stretch showcases mountain vistas, historic farm homesteads and tree-lined forest lanes through all four seasons. At the halfway point, a 100-foot tower at Big Walker Lookout affords a spectacular view of the mountains and valleys. The business has a craft/gift shop on premises. Also in this historic mountain pass, Molly Tynes made her famous midnight ride to warn Wytheville of Toland's raiders riding from Tazewell to destroy the railroad during the Civil War. Fishing, hiking, biking, camping along the route. Big Walker is also the starting point for Monster Rock hiking/biking trail, a 15-20 minute walk to a rock bluff overlook that offers a breathtaking panarama of the north valley. It is also the entrance to the Big Bend Picnic Area just 4 miles on up the mountain.
Grayson Highlands State Park - Mouth of Wilson, VA - (276) 579-7092
Near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, Virginia’s two highest mountains, here you’ll enjoy scenic views of alpine-like peaks of more than 5,000 feet. Facilities include a visitor center, campgrounds and hiking trails leading to waterfalls and overlooks. Scenic horse trails and a horse camping area with stables and parking for trailers are available. The park provides access to the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail. Special events include the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition the third Saturday in June and Grayson Highlands Fall Festival the last full weekend in September. From Interstate 81, take exit 45 in Marion, then Route 16 to Volney and west on U.S. 58.
Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area - Marion, VA - (540) 783-5196
A 115,000-acre mountain recreation wonderland within the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests. The area offers: auto tours; six campgrounds; hundreds of miles of hiking, biking, horse and cross-country ski trails;two lakes and 50 miles of streams; historic sites; wildlife viewing; hunting. Visitor center has information on recreation opportunities.Campgrounds include: Beartree, Grindstone, Hurricane, Comers Rock & Raven Cliff.
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