Hiking through History Virginia  by Johnny Molloy

Hiking through History Virginia Guide Book

by Johnny Molloy (Falcon Guides)
Hiking through History Virginia  by Johnny Molloy
These historic hiking destinations include Belle Isle, a menagerie of history on the James River in Richmond; Manassas Battlefield on the outskirts of Washington, DC; Shenandoah National Park, where vestiges of forgotten pioneer lifeways can be explored; and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, where Daniel Boone himself led settlers into what was then the uncharted West.

© 2014 Johnny Molloy/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Hiking through History Virginia" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 40.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 40.

Head to Assateague Island, where you can walk along the crashing Atlantic shoreline on a protected beach. Visit a preserved Coast Guard station that’s still weathering the sands of time. Your return trip leads you astride the quieter shores of Toms Cove and an old fish-processing factory. After your first hike a short drive takes you to the trailhead to reach the Assateague Island Lighthouse. Walk among wooded ancient dunes, then rise to reach the 1860s beacon, enhanced with views from its heights.
Chincoteague Island, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.5
This scenic hike takes place at one of Virginia’s most attractive and well maintained urban preserves: Newport News Park. Within this large multipurpose getaway is the site of the Battle of Dam No. 1. Cross a wooden bridge above the site of Dam No. 1, then walk a combination nature/historic trail that explores the history of the area. Stop by a lake overlook, cross a marsh boardwalk, and travel through scenic rolling terrain along miles of earthen fortifications, some of the best preserved in the state.
Newport News, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.4
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An Indian village, a Civil War prison camp, an iron foundry, a rock quarry, and now a city park... Belle Isle, on the National Register of Historic Places, is a history museum unto itself, smack-dab in the middle of the James River. Today you can visit the locales where it all happened, and see relics of the past on trails that lead to and through the island, all set in natural beauty amid the rapids of the James. Interior paths extend beyond the described loop, allowing for extended rambling and additional discoveries.
Richmond, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
This hike uses the famed Appalachian Trail (AT) to escort you up to Bluff Mountain, a somber yet scintillating place. Here lies a memorial to Ottie Powell, an area lad lost in the woods. His body was found here, astride the very peak of Bluff Mountain. The story of his disappearance and subsequent discovery has become legend. Hikers who overnight at the nearby Punchbowl Mountain trail shelter swear the ghost of young Ottie has come to visit them. Today, you can leave the Blue Ridge Parkway, hike the AT, pass the Punchbowl shelter, and walk on up to Bluff Mountain to see the wonderful panoramas and the memorial to Ottie. After that, decide for yourself if the ghost of Ottie Powell haunts these heights.
Natural Bridge Station, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.8
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Take a hike into Appalachian Mountain history by visiting a formerly inhabited hollow. The Appalachian Trail (AT) is your conduit for exploring the valley of Brown Mountain Creek. Here, a gorgeous wooded valley is centered by a raucous creek, once populated with scores of sharecroppers. While hiking, look for evidence of these former residents, from old stone fences to stone spring boxes to even a chimney, all fading into the past as the forest grows ever taller and lush.
Natural Bridge Station, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.6
This loop features both Virginia history and natural beauty. Start at Browns Gap, site of significant Civil War activity, especially by Confederate legend Stonewall Jackson. Head down a 200-year-old turnpike, passing a Rebel’s grave. Leave the historic road and follow Doyles River past two significant waterfalls. Climb up Jones Run, viewing several old-growth trees, and see one more big cataract. Finally, complete the loop by passing by Dundo Picnic Area, once a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, while Shenandoah National Park was being developed.
Luray, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.9
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This hike adds a scenic overlay to the history contained within. Start at the south end of the Bull Run Mountains, first passing ruins of a tavern, then coming to huge Chapman’s Mill, once a thriving operation. From there, climb to an open rock outcrop with extensive views west to the Blue Ridge. Finally, backtrack to pass a handdug linear quarry and a family cemetery. Broad Run cuts a narrow passage between the Bull Run Mountains to the north and the Pond Mountains to the south. This opening, known as Thoroughfare Gap, lies between the Blue Ridge and the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Piedmont and the ocean to the east. Thoroughfare Gap has been a natural travel corridor door for as long as animals and aboriginal Virginians have been migrating.
Harpers Ferry, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.7
This hike utilizes a remote portion of the Appalachian Trail (AT), rising past open meadows with stupendous mountain views. Reach an old stone cabin where a fire warden lived, manning a fire tower site at a place called Chestnut Knob, rising well above 4,000 feet in elevation. Here, you can peer down into Burkes Garden, one of Virginia’s most beautiful valleys, as well as the Beartown Wilderness. Burkes Garden is one of the Old Dominion’s most beautiful agricultural valleys. There is only one natural entrance to the fl at cove encircled by high ridges: Burkes Garden Creek flows from the ridge-rimmed valley, creating an access portal. Burkes Garden is pocked with dairy farms and other operations that recall a way of life far removed from today’s electronic universe.
Blacksburg, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.2
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On this hike you will explore Richmond’s riverside past, showcased after years of underappreciation. This urban hike in the heart of downtown starts at Brown’s Island, then goes along restored canals originally dug for boats to circumvent the rapids of the James River. It goes around, under, and over the modern infrastructure while interpreting the interaction of yesteryear’s peoples and this locale. The Canal Walk consists of hard surface for its entire distance. It is fun to follow the trail and absorb the numerous informational displays, including medallions inlaid onto the pathways.
Richmond, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
This hike explores one of the oldest continually operating farms in the United States. Begun in 1619, the 1,400-acre farm, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, contains more than twenty architecturally significant buildings. You will start at the park visitor center. Walk along the James River beach, then cross College Run. From there, the trail rises to meet the heart of the plantation, where you can explore a working farm, outbuildings, and the mansion. The Farm and Forestry Museum is a must-stop. Check out actual implements of farming days gone by that will hold your fascination.
Surry, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
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This hike circuits through an important conflict site during the Union’s attempt to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond. The crossroads at Cold Harbor, now in the suburbs of Richmond, provide a quiet forested park with user-friendly trails that belie its violent past. Leave the battlefield visitor center, crossing an open field. Enter woodlands, passing earthworks dug during an eleven-day siege pitting the troops of Robert E. Lee against Ulysses S. Grant. Take the extended loop past Bloody Run, a stream that crosses the battlefield. Curve around the property in rolling terrain, climbing to a hill overlooking the theater of war, before returning to the visitor center.
Richmond, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.1
This hike heads into one of Shenandoah National Park’s most heavily settled hollows to an authentic pioneer cabin—and you can even stay in it, with advance reservations. Back in pre-park days, Nicholson Hollow had a reputation, deserved or not, as a lawless place. You will drop steeply from Skyline Drive, then visit the George Corbin Cabin. Some say it is haunted. Your escape route takes you up the Hughes River to the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Trail. A walk through a rocky mountain-laurelladen ridge leads you back to the trailhead.
Luray, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
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Talk about historic hikes! This trek, at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, traces the route used by man and beast for millennia, working their way from the East into what became Kentucky. Made famous by Daniel Boone, the passage through Cumberland Gap follows the “Wilderness Road,” now restored to its original appearance. You will walk a foot trail, tracing Daniel’s steps to and through the actual Cumberland Gap, marked by a memorial. Your return trip leads past Cumberland Furnace, an iron-making operation, as well as Gap Cave, which also figure in the history of this mountainous land where Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky come together.
Middlesboro, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
This Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area has two interconnected nature trails that present a splendid overview of charcoal production and iron making in 1800s Virginia, all in a gorgeous setting along Passage Creek, nestled between Massanutten Mountain and Green Mountain near Strasburg. The short walk is long on interpretive information and you will get to see the iron-furnace remains up close, as well as a cabin from the 1830s. Plan on adding picnicking, trout fishing, and car camping to your historic hiking agenda—it is all here at Elizabeth Furnace.
Edinburg, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.9
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Make a circuit through the eastern half of Manassas Battlefield, where the first clash of the Civil War took place in July of 1861. A blazed trail takes you from the park visitor center through the woods and fields of the preserved historical locale. Visit the Stone Bridge, homesites, and the only two buildings that were there when both the First Manassas and Second Manassas battles took place. Entrance permit required. Trail surface: Gravel, grass, natural surfaces.
Manassas, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.2
Enjoy downtown Richmond panoramas and shoals of the James River as you trace an elevated floodwall. Next, join the Slave Trail through woods along the river. End at historic Manchester Docks before retracing your steps. Bring your camera: The views of Richmond and the river are unparalleled from the floodwall. This hike presents glimpses into Richmond’s past and incredible views of the capital’s downtown area. Your views come from atop a floodwall across from downtown. Though the floodwall wasn’t built with recreation in mind, it has become an integral link in the James River Park trail system. The top of the floodwall serves as an elevated pathway from which you can view the lowermost rapids of Richmond and downtown beyond, as well as panoramas of the city’s south side.
Richmond, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.4
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This Shenandoah National Park hike explores a historic farmstead and presents a good vista. The trek leaves the park visitor center, then dips to the former Fox Farm. Find signs of a pioneer past, including a cemetery. Head south on Dickey Ridge to reach the Snead Barn, part of another farm and more mountain history. The woodland walk passes an outcrop with a panorama of Shenandoah Valley and the mountains beyond. Finally, pass through Dickey Ridge Picnic Area, a fine place for a post-walk meal.
Luray, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.7
Have you ever seen the Great Falls of the Potomac? The crashing whitewater wonder is truly a natural highlight of the Old Dominion. The area’s history is nearly as impressive. George Washington himself commissioned a system of canals and locks to allow barge traffic to navigate around this extensive whitewater froth that crashes through Mather Gorge. On your hike visit the falls, locks, canals, and even the ghost town of Matildaville, built for the men tending the lock and canal system and their families.
McLean, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.7
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This hike combines history and natural beauty in the rugged mountains of southwest Virginia. Here in the Jefferson National Forest, you will hike a trail that was once a railroad grade. First pass through the Swede Tunnel, then cross the Guest River—a Virginia State Scenic River—on a high bridge. Continue down the cliff- and bluffrimmed canyon, viewing giant streamside boulders. Pass your first waterfall, then come to a stair-step cascade set in a rock-rimmed glen before turning around. The Guest River Gorge Trail, like many rail trails, took a while to come into being. Fortunately, the Jefferson National Forest saw an opportunity when this leg of the Interstate Line was abandoned. After hiking this rail-turned-trail, you will see why the term “gorge” is used when describing the valley of the Guest River.
Wise, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.6
This hike at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park climbs Cumberland Mountain on the old Chadwell Gap Trail to reach a preserved mountaintop community. Once the home of Sherman Hensley and his descendants, the remote inhabitation existed in isolation for five decades. Today, a strenuous 2,000-foot climb leads to the secluded and gorgeous locale where two dozen buildings, from homes to the schoolhouse to outbuildings, await your visit. It is truly a fascinating trip back in time. The Hensley Settlement protects and preserves lifeways long abandoned in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. This former community is set 3,300 feet high in a perched mountaintop valley, where the headwaters of Shillalah Creek fl ow between Brushy Mountain to the north and Cumberland Mountain to the south. It remains a remote and scenic spot, the place where Sherman Hensley, back in 1904, decided to retreat from the lower reaches of Harlan County Kentucky and make his home in the back of beyond here along the Kentucky-Virginia state line.
Middlesboro, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.6
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