Hiking Virginia - 4th Edition  by Bill and Mary Burnham

Hiking Virginia - 4th Edition Guide Book

by Bill and Mary Burnham (Falcon Guides)
Hiking Virginia - 4th Edition  by Bill and Mary Burnham
Winner of a National Outdoor Book Award Honorable Mention, Hiking Virginia is indispensable for exploring the Commonwealth. Authors Bill and Mary Burnham breath fresh air into popular Virginia destinations, and explore commonly overlooked yet equally dramatic hikes. Explore the history of a young American nation; watch stories of lost cultures come alive; and imagine the ghosts of Indian raiders, moonshiners, and outlaws haunting the backcountry routes of the past. Packed with notes on plants, trees, and geology, plus a list of local attractions and "good eats and sleeps" for the weary hiker, Hiking Virginia covers the Commonwealth's outdoors from the sea shores to the mountain slopes, past and present.

© 2018 Bill and Mary Burnham/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Hiking Virginia - 4th Edition" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 45.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 45.

The Blue Ridge of northern Virginia have none of the 4,000-foot-plus heights so plentiful on the Appalachian Trail farther south. Still, the northern Virginia leg is one exhausting climb after another. On open mountain balds, views drop west onto the Great Valley. The bumpy spine of the Blue Ridge runs southward, and to the east lie the rolling meadows of Virginia’s hunt country. Come fall and winter, the mountains here harbor quiet moments, interrupted occasionally by the thrashing of birds foraging among the hornbeam, dogwood, spicebush, and sassafras.
Front Royal, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 54.5
As an introduction to Virginia, it’s hard to top Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The Appalachian Trail passes near the tallest mountains in the state. Close to the summit of Mount Rogers, wild ponies graze in the high-country meadows. There are steep climbs up Iron Mountain, past small waterfalls and tunnels of rhododendron. The hike seems over too soon. Longer lasting are memories of wide-open sky, jagged rock outcrops, and a refreshing dip below the falls on Comers Creek.
Damascus, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 63.8
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The Appalachian Trail through southwest Virginia forsakes the Blue Ridge for the valley and ridge region, but loses none of the beauty or steep climbs. Open cliffs on Tinker Mountain and overlooks from McAfee Knob and Dragons Tooth are popular day hikes. More remote is Wind Rocks in Mountain Lake Wilderness or a perch on Angels Rest, near Pearisburg, with views of the New River. It’s been sixty-plus years since volunteers moved the AT off the Blue Ridge, in hopes of saving the trail’s remote character. It’s safe to say they succeeded.
Marion, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 190.3
The Appalachian Trail once ran the crest of the Blue Ridge from Roanoke north to Rockfish Gap, until construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway pushed sections onto outlying peaks. That’s good news for hikers who like climbing. From heights of 4,000 feet atop The Priest and Cold Mountain, the trail descends to an elevation of 659 feet at the James River. The Blue Ridge, Virginia’s oldest mountains, show weathered knobs of resistant bedrock at Humpback Rocks, Spy Rock, and Fullers Rocks. Views from each seem better than the last.
Roanoke, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 133.4
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Shenandoah National Park and the Appalachian Trail grew up together. Civilian Conservation Corps crews built Skyline Drive on right-of-ways carved by AT trail volunteers. The routes stay within a half mile of each other as they pass through mountain gaps, past old farms and orchards, and over rocky mountaintops. Iconic images of Shenandoah—autumn foliage, waterfalls, and soaring views off rocky outcrops—foster the idea of a timeless, never-changing park. A few days hiking the AT dispels this notion. Fires, floods, ice-storm damage, invasive insects, and gypsy moth infestation leave their distinctive mark on large areas of the forest in Shenandoah. In these areas, the AT gives hikers a view of the shrubby plants, small trees, wildflowers, and vines that mark early stages of reforestation.
Waynesboro, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 107.1
Since colonial times, farmers have tilled the fields of Belle Isle; parts of this state park are farmed even today. Bird watchers, hikers, horseback riders, and cyclists in the mood for wide-open spaces find this an ideal destination. Trails trace cornfields, cross tidal marshes, and wind through pine and hardwood filter strips—ribbons of woodland that separate fields from sensitive wetlands. Well-marked and easy to follow, trails feature interpretive boards explaining Chesapeake Bay ecology. Depending on the season, there’s a better-than-average chance of spotting a bald eagle or two, flocks of wintering tundra swans, and in summer, maybe a dolphin cruising the wide Rappahannock.
Lancaster, VA - Birding,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 3.3
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In German, schloss means “castle.” In Virginia, schloss can only refer to one geologic wonder, a towering outcrop of sandstone on Mill Mountain. Big Schloss is a popular day trip from Wolf Gap Recreation Area, a primitive camping site 2 miles south. A more strenuous trip begins far to the north, in a quiet river valley better known by hunters than hikers. The hike begins at Wilson Cove Wildlife Management Area, a 5,200-acre piece of the national forest designated for muzzle-loader buck hunting only, in late November and early December. Along Pond Run, old-growth hemlocks stand out from the smaller trees growing thick along this stream. Rock slides, steep inclines, overlooks, and quiet views off Mill Mountain follow in succession.
Wardensville, WV - Backpacking,Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 19.5
Mountain Fork and Little Stony Creek thread the mountains of Wise and Scott Counties in wild and unpredictable fashion. Sticking with them faithfully is the 15-mile Chief Benge Scout Trail, a trek that links the cool waters of High Knob Lake with 30-foot falls, rapids, and small pools on the Little Stony. The trail follows old railroad grades at river level but makes several steep climbs up the ridges that make southwest Virginia such a rugged, wonderful place to hike. There is real variety of plants along this trail, from big-leaf magnolia to the huckleberries on the dry ridges. Bring a fishing pole and test stream waters or the wide Bark Camp Lake. With reliable water sources and only a few steep climbs, this hike is a highlight of any southwest trip.
Norton, VA - Fishing,Hiking - Trail Length: 15.3
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Every spring and fall, millions of birds migrate between cold, northern environs and temperate and tropical homes in Central and South America. En route, their needs are simple: an occasional place to rest and food to nourish. Wildlife biologists at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, on the southern tip of Assateague Island, have engineered a deluxe ornithological wayside for the winged travelers. Entire sections of beach are closed during nesting season for such species as the endangered piping plover and Wilson’s plover. On small, man-made earthen mounds rising in the middle of bayside lagoons, waterfowl perch and feed, protected from predators. As the human hand tinkers with wildlife balance, real drama plays out in the daily life of birds and land animals—and it’s on display for all to see.
Chincoteague Island, VA - Birding,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Road Biking - Trail Length: 7.5-25 miles
Originating in the flat bottomland and old fields of Crawfish Valley, the Crawfish–Channel Rock Trail ascends Brushy Mountain on steep, narrow footpaths to run northeast parallel to Walker Mountain. En route, you’ll cross the Tennessee Valley Divide, where Reed Creek and Bear Creek vividly illustrate the effects of the divide. Flowing off opposite sides of the divide, each enters separate, ever-expanding stream networks that eventually reach the Ohio River, albeit 100 miles distant from one another. Deer and raccoons forage along the stream edges; turkeys and ruffed grouse hunt for acorns on the slopes of Brushy and Walker Mountains. Beavers leave the most lasting impression: a two-stage dam you’ll traverse on Bear Creek.
Rural Retreat, VA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 11.2
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Devils Fork is a luxuriant streamscape of rocks, cliffs, and small cascades that grow in size and frequency as you hike. It all comes together at the Devils Bathtub, where a long waterfall trips step by step over shale bedrock and crashes in a swirl of currents into a bowl-like pool—the bathtub. Framed by tall hemlocks and rhododendron, this scenery is as lush and abundant as the landscape a few hundred feet upslope is simple and unadorned. Prepare to get wet, as there are many stream crossings on this hike, at least five in the first mile alone! Best done in warmer weather.
Norton, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.1
Barrier islands serve as an ecological first line of defense for our shores. Storms batter them, waves wear them down, wind strips them clean. Tucked out of harm’s way behind the islands lie sheltered bays and marshes teeming with grasses, shell-fish, birds, and small animals. False Cape State Park and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge showcase just one of Virginia’s many barrier island and lagoon ecosystems, albeit a critical one. The preserves stand within striking distance of Hampton Roads’ two million residents and all the incumbent pressures (pollution, development, overcrowding). Sprawl stops at the park boundaries, and hikers and bird watchers are assured a quiet afternoon with space to walk and think, or watch and listen.
Virginia Beach, VA - Birding,Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 14.7
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If Mount Rogers’s summit is the heart, Iron Mountain is the backbone of southwest Virginia’s mountain playground. Its breadth, 80 miles from the Tennessee-Virginia state line to the New River, makes it one of Virginia’s longest ridges. The natural resources it holds made it a target of mineral and timber industries in earlier times. Now it simply offers miles of uninterrupted hiking and access to remote, less-visited parts of Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. On Feathercamp Branch, the scenery rivals any along Virginia’s many mountain streams. As it ducks under thick rhododendron, it gathers speed between the steep shoulders of Iron Mountain and drops into shallow pools deep enough to wade.
Damascus, VA - Backpacking,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 8.1
The ultimate surf-and-turf park, First Landing State Park is great for a tan—and far less crowded than the Atlantic beaches a few miles south. The “surf ” is the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean; the “turf ” is a landward trail network through an ecosystem that mixes southern plants with northern, temperate species. Spend an afternoon here among bald cypress swamps decked with Spanish moss, towering loblolly pines, and salt marsh. High, forested dunes offer great views of the water. Boardwalks take you safely through blackwater swamps, but at high tide be prepared to get your feet wet and muddy on more remote trails.
Virginia Beach, VA - Birding,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 6.5
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Some days, you can hike for miles and feel like you never left the parking lot. Other times, it can feel like you walked through four different worlds in a single afternoon. Thankfully, you’ll find Fridley Gap fits the latter experience. Squeezed together accordion-like, the long, parallel ridges of First, Second, Third, and Fourth Mountains concentrate an awful lot of up-and-downs into a day of hiking, and, consequently, a number of different habitats. At the lower elevations, stream valleys attract deer to the water’s edge. Skinny rays of sunlight filter down to the forest floor through eastern hemlock. A half-mile away stands another world: the dry, barren ridgetops. With no tree cover, views stretch for miles. Two different worlds, one hike.
Shenandoah, VA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 9.4
Virginia’s Department of Game & Inland Fisheries oversees thirty wildlife management areas around the state with the hunter and angler in mind. Fields are kept clear to attract grazing animals, and seed plots are sown to keep them plump and healthy. Streams and man-made lakes are stocked with trout and other fish. As the state makes these areas hiker-friendly as well, they’d do well to model the G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area in Fauquier County, where hikers and naturalists stake as much a claim to the beautiful surroundings as outdoorsmen. The network of trails include a 7-mile section of the Appalachian Trail. There is an abundance of wildflowers—the area harbors one of the largest populations of large-flowered trillium in North America. Virginia’s Native Plant Society lists the Thompson Wildlife Management Area on its register of important native plant sites.
Linden, VA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2-4.3 miles
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Land and history are interwoven throughout Great Falls Park—the spot where George Washington championed a canal to skirt the Potomac River’s 77-foot “great falls.” This may be metropolitan DC, but beyond the crowds, you can find small reminders of a time when our nation’s capital was a tidal backwater and our country’s survival wasn’t assured. Overlooks 2 and 3 are fully accessible, as is the Patowmack Canal Trail to the Holding Basin and the guard gate. During weekends and holidays in good weather, there can be long wait times to enter this popular park. Consider coming early or late.
Great Falls, VA - Climbing,Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 5.1
Hazel Mountain and Sams Ridge once offered a sizable mountain community all the tools and products for a decent living. Today it draws people for its natural beauty. At Hazel River Falls, the stream drops 30 feet into a pool ringed by tall cliffs in the shape of a natural amphitheater. From here a trail climbs to the heights of White Rocks before dropping back to the river and more scenic cascades. Throughout the area a sharp-eyed hiker will spy evidence of mountain settlers. Trails follow old roads used to transport farm products, and old fields, apple orchards, and home foundations are visible.
Luray, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 10.8
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Two of Virginia’s long trails, the Appalachian Trail and the Allegheny Trail, pass through Peters Mountain Wilderness, a patch of forestland on the steep ridge that constitutes the Virginia–West Virginia border. But neither well-traveled trail quite captures what it means for a forest to turn wild as well as the Huckleberry Loop. The trail down Dismal Creek on the eastern slope of Peters Mountain is as rough as they come, overrun with rhododendron, blocked by blowdowns, and often lost altogether in the streambed. There are car-size boulders en route, and rotted logs litter the creek bed. This trail sums up everything a wilderness should be: beautiful, difficult, and, in the end, extremely satisfying.
Pembroke, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
Set in bucolic Buckingham County, the 1,500-acre James River State Park perches on 3 miles of riverside property that has cultural roots reaching back to pre-Revolution and one of Virginia’s most influential families. Trails range from flat paths along the James to pitchy routes through the young pine and hardwood forests on the valley hillsides. Equestrians are some of the park’s heaviest users, but 15 miles of trails that span both river and forest habitats offer hikers a lesson in how a small park can still deliver big rewards.
Norwood, VA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 7.5
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