Known as the tallest waterfall in Virginia, Crabtree Falls is a series of slides and waterfalls on Crabtree Creek, dropping approximately 1000 feet cumulatively. A hiking trail, equipped with well-constructed switchbacks and steps, provides easy access to all of the various drops of Crabtree Falls, each one unique in its own way. As a bonus, the large rock face at the top of the falls provides a great view into the Tye River Gorge. Just make sure to do this hike on a day when the crowds would likely be thinner than they were on my visit. This hike occurred on Sunday, November 27th, 2016. My plan was to hike the Crabtree Falls Trail out and back from VA 56 to the top of Crabtree Falls. This hike was the seventh and final of seven hikes that I did during a four-day Thanksgiving trip to the mountains of western Virginia.
The Roaring Run gorge in Virginia's Blue Ridge sports several slides and cascades, in addition to 35-foot Roaring Run Falls. Several short nature trails provide easy access to this pristine location. The area also has an interesting history, as iron ore was mined a long time ago here. Today, all that remains of the area's past is the historic Roaring Run Furnace, which can be observed along this short loop hike in the vicinity of Roaring Run. This hike occurred on Saturday, November 26th, 2016. My plan was to hike the Roaring Run Falls Loop clockwise, by first following the Streamside Trail and then returning along the Woodland Trail, after hiking the side trail to Roaring Run Falls. This hike was the sixth of seven hikes that I did during a four-day Thanksgiving trip to the mountains of western Virginia.
Virginia's "Triple Crown" hike involves a strenuous overnight backpack to three of the area's most famed vistas: McAfee Knob, Dragons Tooth, and Tinker Cliffs. All of these vistas are known for their sweeping long-range panoramas. While getting to all three of these overlooks in one hike requires serious skills and gear, hiking to any one of the three involves just a simple day hike. Out of the three, Dragons Tooth - as well as the hike to it - might be the most unusual. Dragons Tooth is a unique rock formation that towers like a spire at the southwest end of Cove Mountain. Those who are brave and skilled enough to climb to the top will be awarded with a stunning panorama that encompasses much of Catawba Valley. The hike to Dragons Tooth is no picnic either; this short stretch of the AT - dubbed as the most rugged stretch of the long-distance footpath south of Maine - involves a tricky and time-consuming rock scramble. This hike occurred on Saturday, November 26th, 2016. My plan was to hike the Dragons Tooth Trail to Lost Spectacles Gap, from where I would hike to Dragons Tooth out and back along the Appalachian Trail. After that, I would loop my return route by following the AT northeast to the Boy Scout Trail, concluding the hike along the Boy Scout Trail. This hike was the fifth of seven hikes that I did during a four-day Thanksgiving trip to the mountains of western Virginia.
The Peaks of Otter - Sharp Top, Flat Top, and Harkening Hill - are three distinct mountains in the vicinity of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Several centuries ago, it was believed by Thomas Jefferson that the Peaks of Otter - along with the Blue Ridge Mountains in general - are the tallest peaks in the United States, but of course, this was later proved wrong, although not before stones were sampled from the Peaks of Otter and sent to be part of the Washington Monument. Hiking trails lead to each of the three peaks, and two of the three peaks provide excellent views. In fact, the rocky pinnacle at the summit of Sharp Top Mountain provides a 360-degree panorama that overlooks the Virginia Piedmont and the Blue Ridge Mountains that are scattered through the area. This hike occurred on Friday, November 25th, 2016. My plan was to hike the Sharp Top Mountain Trail out and back from Abbot Lake. I would make the short side trip to Buzzards Roost - a separate rock formation and viewpoint - along the way. This hike was the fourth of seven hikes that I did during a four-day Thanksgiving trip to the mountains of western Virginia.
Virginia is known for its mountain vistas much more than for its streams and waterfalls. Interestingly, much of the terrain in the mountains of Virginia is not very supportive for large waterfalls, so when your Virginia hike takes you to a waterfall that is around two hundred feet high, it can be considered something special for sure. This hike visits Apple Orchard Falls. At 200 feet high, this waterfall is one of the highest in Virginia. Furthermore, the popular loop along North Creek, Apple Orchard Branch, and Cornelius Creek is one of the most beautiful stream hikes in George Washington and Jefferson National Forest and perhaps in all of Virginia. This hike occurred on Friday, November 25th, 2016. My plan was to hike the Apple Orchard Falls/Cornelius Creek Loop clockwise, by first following the Apple Orchard Falls Trail to and past Apple Orchard Falls. Then, I would hike the Cornelius Creek Spur Trail to the Cornelius Creek Trail, finishing the loop by taking the Cornelius Creek Trail back to the trailhead. This hike was the third of seven hikes that I did during a four-day Thanksgiving trip to the mountains of western Virginia.
House Mountain Preserve: Big House Mountain Trail to Goat Point Overlook & Tabletop Rock and Little House Mountain Trail, Lexington, Virginia
Driving through the vicinity of the town of Lexington, Virginia, one cannot fail to notice two twin summits rising up sharply to the northwest of town. The distant peaks tower out of the valley farmlands as you drive along US Route 11 near Lexington, and when you drive on I-64, the peaks are still there, although their character has changed as you see them from a different angle. The peaks are none other than Big and Little House Mountain, two mountains with outstanding 180-degree to 270-degree views. The House Mountain area was preserved by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, and there are now established hiking trails to viewpoints on both mountains. In addition to the grand views that you'll see, you'll also get to visit a Big House Mountain boulder field that is home to a unique rock formation known as Tabletop Rock. This hike occurred on Thursday, November 24th, 2016. My plan was to hike to along a gated forest road to the saddle between Big House Mountain and Little House Mountain. Once there, I would hike out and back along the Big House Mountain Trail to Goat Point Overlook and Tabletop Rock on Big House Mountain. Then, I would return to the saddle and hike out and back to the vista on Little House Mountain. I would finish the hike by retracing my steps back down along the gated forest road. This hike was the second of seven hikes that I did during a four-day Thanksgiving trip to the mountains of western Virginia.
The 215-foot natural bridge that is carved out by Cedar Creek is the centerpiece of Natural Bridge State Park, Virginia's newest state park. The Cedar Creek Trail travels through the Cedar Creek gorge for about a mile, passing a cave along the way, before terminating at Lace Falls, which is a beautiful multi-tiered 50-foot waterfall. Even though the incredible natural bridge is the main attraction on this hike, the trail visits several other features in this little known-area of Virginia. This hike occurred on Thursday, November 24th, 2016. My plan was to hike the Cedar Creek Trail out and back, passing under the Natural Bridge, past Saltpeter Cave, and reaching Lace Falls. This hike was the first of seven hikes that I did during a four-day Thanksgiving trip to the mountains of western Virginia.
The Highlands of Virginia have a unique environment, and some of the best hiking in the Southeast. Apart from a few places in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest, I don't know of any other places like the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Virginia. While Mount Rogers itself is not the most interesting mountain, the Grayson Highlands, Wilburn Ridge, and Pine Mountain - all that sits off the flank of Mount Rogers - provide incredible long-range views. This hike occurred on Saturday, April 19, 2014. My plan was to take the Appalachian Trail northbound from The Scales to The Pine Mountain Trail. From there, I planned hiking the Pine Mountain Trail to a point on the Appalachian Trail south of the original starting point, and follow the AT northbound to The Scales. I got to a late start in the late afternoon, due to the distance of the trail from my house, but I still thought I would finish it off shortly after dark. Not so fast, my friend.
Year 1: 540.0 Miles
Year 2: 552.3 Miles
Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 387.0 Miles