Did you know Virginia is home to 554 miles of the Appalachian Trail? That’s more than any other state!
In Virginia’s Blue Ridge, we feature easy access to multiple spots along the trail and Roanoke is the largest city on the entire trail. Hikers and visitors from around the world make their way to the region to experience this incredible footpath, both for extended journeys, as well as day hikes.
Many come to visit iconic spots such as McAfee Knob and Dragon’s Tooth, which are certainly incredible summits. However, don’t be fooled into thinking your hiking adventure along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia’s Blue Ridge has to include McAfee Knob.
There are plenty of other great trails and day hikes just waiting to be discovered.
Here are 10 hidden gems on the Appalachian Trail to check out during your next Blue Ridge Day!
1. Hay Rock Overlook & Tinker Ridge
With its stunning view of Carvins Cove, the hike to Tinker Ridge and the Hay Rock Overlook is an easily accessible hike with rewarding summit. It’s approximately 8.0 miles for this out-and-back hike that starts near Exit 150 on I-81 and U.S. 220 in Daleville. The commuter parking area is located beside the gas station and the trail begins behind the guard rail. It’s a moderately difficult climb up Tinker Mountain, but once you reach the ridgeline, there are multiple opportunities to view the Carvins Cove Reservoir and McAfee Knob. Learn more >
2. Brush Mountain
Brush Mountain is a popular spot for mountain biking in the region, but it also features one of the more unique hiking trails in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The trail includes the Audie Murphy Monument, a trail landmark that stands as a tribute to Audie Murphy, a decorated World War II soldier who was killed in a plane crash on the mountain in 1971. The trail can be reached via Route 311 from Interstate 81 to Route 621 and then going approximately 5.5 miles to reach the A.T. crossing parking lot.
To make the full 7.6 mile climb on the mountain, you’ll want to also leave a shuttle car at Trout Creek, which can be found by taking Route 621 another 2.8 miles past the initial parking area and then turning left on Route 620. Continue 1.1 miles to the Trout Creek Parking Area, which will be the finishing point of the hike. Learn more >
3. Apple Orchard Mountain
A road trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway can include a short hike along the Appalachian Trail to the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain. You can reach the trail via the Sunset Field Overlook at Milepost 78.4 on the Parkway and then following the blue-blazed path for a ¼ mile until it intersects with the A.T. Take a right onto the trail and then walk approximately 1.7 miles to reach the mountaintop summit and enjoy the gorgeous view of Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Learn more >
4. Wind Rock - Mountain Lake
Explore the wilderness around Mountain Lake, which features all kinds of opportunities for hiking and mountain biking. One of the best spots is the short, .4 mile hike to the Wind Rock Overlook on Salt Pond Mountain, where you can see the mountains of West Virginia on the horizon, as well as the surrounding George Washington & Jefferson National Forest. Learn more >
5. Cove Mountain
The trek up Cove Mountain is located near the Arcadia exit for Interstate 81 and it’s approximately 7.5 miles with an elevation gain of nearly 2,000 feet. You’ll begin the hike with a walk on a wooden bridge over Jennings Creek and then make your way to a small waterfall along Cove Creek. The climb will include views of the James River, Town of Buchanan, and Purgatory Mountain on the north side of the river. There will also be a view of the Cove Creek Valley. Learn more >
6. Angel’s Rest
The view is certainly worth it, if you can conquer the challenging climb to Angel’s Rest in Pearisburg. It’s only about 4.5 miles round-trip, but don’t be misled by the distance. It’s also a climb of over 1,600 feet to get to the top. Once you reach the summit, find a seat on the iconic boulder and take in the gorgeous view of the New River and town of Pearisburg below. Learn more >
7. Thunder Ridge
The Thunder Ridge Overlook and Trail is a nice spot to stretch your legs when traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a short, ¼ mile loop trail that connects on either end of the parking lot at Milepost 74.7 and only takes about 10 minutes to walk. On the right side of the parking lot, the trail leads to the stone observation deck that provides a fantastic view of the valley below and other mountain ridgelines. Learn more >
8. Sinking Creek Mountain
Sinking Creek Mountain isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s an 11-mile, strenuous, point-to-point hike that makes its way along the crest of the mountain after the initial 1,200 foot ascent. You’ll be rewarded with views of the Craig Creek Valley and the beauty of Craig County. Check out the Hike #8 of this page on the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club website for more information.
9. Fullhardt Knob
Located near the Town of Troutville, a designated Appalachian Trail Community, where the trail crosses Route 11, the hike to Fullhardt Knob is a 7.8 mile up and back trek. Although the Fullhardt Knob summit is a wooded area, you’ll encounter multiple beautiful views along the way with looks at McAfee Knob and Tinker Mountain in the distance. You’ll also cross railroad tracks and may encounter thru-hikers setting up camp at the Fullhardt Knob shelter. Learn more >
10. Kelly’s Knob
The hike to Kelly Knob is a moderately challenging climb through the forest canopy that leads to the knob between Johns Creek Mountain and Clover Hollow Mountain. It’s approximately 6.5 miles for this out-and-back hike and the view from the knob, a striking collection of rocks, provides a great look at the New River Valley. Learn more >
Map of Locations
Now you’re ready for your next hiking adventure! Visit our Outdoor Adventure section to learn more about the amazing outdoor recreation opportunities in Virginia’s Blue Ridge and remember to subscribe to our e-newsletter.
- Hiking Virginia’s Triple Crown
- Hiking Tips & Resources
- Waterfall Hikes
- See the 7 Natural Wonders of Virginia’s Blue Ridge
Check out this video by the Virginia Tourism Corporation on what makes Virginia such a special part of the Appalachian Trail.