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Hiking in Roanoke Region

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TAKE A HIKE
The surrounding mountains provide the ideal setting for scenic day hikes as well as overnight camping trips. With the Appalachian Trail in our backyard and dozens of park trails, the Roanoke Region offers the best hiking.

Two Ways to Find the Perfect Hike

1. On this page, hiking trails are organized in proximity to major towns and outdoor
    areas, such as the Appalachian Trail, James River, the New River, the Blue Ridge
    Parkway, and state parks.

2. Or you can view hikes plotted on a regional outdoor map to gain a better idea of
    location.

RoanokeHikeBestPhotos

Near Roanoke Appalachian Trail
Alleghany Highlands James River
Smith Mountain Lake New River
Craig County Blue Ridge Parkway

ROANOKE HIKES

Within minutes of leaving downtown Roanoke you'll find yourself, what seems like, hundreds of miles away from anyone. Leave the asphalt, cars, and noise behind and lose yourself on one of these trails.

Bottom Creek Gorge, is 4.0-mile trail through meadows and along a river. Forming the headwaters of the Roanoke River, Bottom Creek Gorge boasts spectacular scenery: the second highest waterfall in Virginia, virgin hemlocks and hundreds of wildflowers.

Buck Mountain Trail, 1-mile trail through a lovely little forest, under oaks, maples and pines.

Carvins Cove Nature Reserve is the second largest municipal park in the nation. It holds a major water source within its 12,700 acres and overflowing recreational opportunities including hiking, biking, fishing, and boat rentals. 11,363 acres of Carvins Cove is protected by the largest conservation easement in Virginia's history. There more than 40 miles of multi-use trails.

Chestnut Ridge Trail is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a wide and well-graded path lined with mountain laurel and rhododendron. The trail offers 5.4 mile figure-eight loop trail that can be shortened to 2.5 and/or 3.4 miles. Less than 10 minutes from downtown Roanoke.

Dragon's Tooth is a unique geologic feature that consists of Tuscarora quartzite spires which outcrop on the top of Cove Mountain. The tallest "tooth" projects roughly 35 feet above the surrounding rock. The trail to Dragon's Tooth ascends steep, rugged outcrops of quartzite which form the spine of Cove Mountain and North Mountain. The spine is known as Dragon's Back. A difficult hike 4.5-mile round trip, out and back hike, Dragon's Tooth summit offers magnificent views of nearby and distant peaks year-round.

Explore Park Trail System, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a 1,100-acre preserve situated along the Roanoke River Gorge with a variety of hiking options. 6+ trail options ranging from <0.5 miles to >10 miles – many of which are loop trails. Only 10 minutes from downtown Roanoke.

Greenways are open-space corridors reserved for recreational use or environmental preservation that connect urban centers. Most greenways can be found along rivers, across ridgelines and along other scenic or historic routes. These spaces often have hiking or multi-use trails, which help link Roanoke’s natural beauty to its charming neighborhoods and vibrant downtown. There are more than 30 miles of greenways throughout the Roanoke Region.

Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail, 1.7-mile trail runs alongside Mason’s Creek.

McAfee Knob is the most photographed site along the Appalachian Trail. The Knob has an almost 270-degree panorama of the Catawba Valley and North Mountain to the west, Tinker Cliffs to the north and the Roanoke Valley to the east.

Mill Mountain Park has more than 9 miles of hiking and biking trails - all within five minutes of downtown Roanoke.

North Mountain Trail, 13.2 miles total, with several shorter loop options. Outstanding views.

Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve protects the world's largest population of the globally rare shrub Piratebushpiratebush, which is restricted to only a handful of sites in the mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. A 0.75 and 3.8 mile trail will wind you through the preserve.

Read Mountain is a 243-acre Roanoke County park. It is a ~1.9-mile (3.8 round trip) out/back trail from the parking lot to the Buzzard Rocks summit. This is a moderately difficult hike and you are rewarded with a spectacular view of the valley.

Tinker Cliffs (Andy Layne Trail), difficult trail with creeks and intriguing rock formations. Connects to Appalachian Trail. Great views from Tinker Cliffs.

Tinker Ridge/Hay Rock Overlook is an 8-mile round trip, out and back hike that ascends Tinker Ridge providing the most spectacular views of  Carvins Cove and the Roanoke Valley.backtotop


APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKES
The Appalachian Trail is a 2,175-mile trail following the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia to Maine, 544 miles of which are in Virginia. Winding through the Roanoke Region, the AT offers dozens of short and long hikes, easy to strenuous. Throughout the region you can enjoy trail loops that peak at waterfalls and cliffs, always promising spectacular views. The trails listed below are either on the Appalachian Trail or located nearby.

Plan An Overnight Hike - The AT offers a great opportunity for overnight backpacking trips. Shelters, which are typically three-sided structures that allow you to camp without a tent, are spread along the trail at varied intervals which allow you to hike at your own pace. An interactive Appalachian Trail map shows shelters, parking lots, and vistas along the AT (zoom in on Roanoke).

Angel's Rest is a 4.6-mile round trip, out and back hike along a well-worn trail that leads into a spring-fed ravine and briefly along an old logging road before settling into a consistent, thrashing course of switchbacks. The path crosses over two ancient rockslides and passes through thick poplar and oaks, as well as laurel and rhododendron.

Apple Orchard Falls is a moderately difficult, 7.5-mile hike with a 200-foot waterfall.

Balcony Falls Trail, located at milepost 71 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a strenuous 5.5-mile trail, one-way hike.

Devil's Marbleyard is a 3-mile round trip, out and back hike that utilizes the Belfast Trail. The marbleyard is a unique geological feature that can best be described as a huge rock field with boulders ranging from the size of coffee tables to those of large vans.

Dragon's Tooth is a unique geologic feature that consists of Tuscarora quartzite spires which outcrop on the top of Cove Mountain. The tallest "tooth" projects roughly 35 feet above the surrounding rock. The trail to Dragon's Tooth ascends steep, rugged outcrops of quartzite which form the spine of Cove Mountain and North Mountain. The spine is known as Dragon's Back. A difficult hike 4.5-mile round trip, out and back hike, Dragon's Tooth summit offers magnificent views of nearby and distant peaks year-round.

James River Wilderness Trail is a 21.9-mile section of the Appalachian Trail that parallels the James River. This moderately strenuous trail overlooks the James River Water Gap and offers many multi-day hiking and camping options.

Kelly's Knob is a 6.6-mile, out and back hike on the Appalachian Trail. Kelly Knob is located on a ridge that bridges the valley between John's Creek Mountain and Clover Hollow Mountain. While Kelly Knob is not the highest point on the ridgelet—(the high point is densely wooded), it is still much higher than its mountain neighbors, thus affording a fantastic vista of the New River Valley.

McAfee Knob is the most photographed site along the Appalachian Trail. The Knob has an almost 270-degree panorama of the Catawba Valley and North Mountain to the west, Tinker Cliffs to the north and the Roanoke Valley to the east.

Mountain Lake Conservancy is a 2,600-acre hiking and birding paradise. Twenty trails will allow you to explore this hidden gem. (trail map)

North Mountain Trail, 13.2 miles total, with several shorter loop options. Outstanding views.

Tinker Cliffs (Andy Layne Trail), difficult trail with creeks and intriguing rock formations.

Tinker Ridge/Hay Rock Overlook is an 8-mile round trip, out and back hike that ascends Tinker Ridge providing the most spectacular views of  Carvins Cove and the Roanoke Valley.backtotop


BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY HIKES
Tucked away, within the 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, are hundreds of hiking trails. Trails which provide dazzling images of wildflowers on rolling pastures, cascading waterfalls (some with natural rock waterslides), blue tinged mountains, and majestic gorges. Trails found on the Parkway are suited for all skill levels, and provide an initimate view of the most beautiful wilderness in the country. The trails listed below are either on the Blue Ridge Parkway or located nearby.

Balcony Falls Trail, located at milepost 71 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a strenuous 5.5-mile trail, one-way hike.

Bottom Creek Gorge, is 4.0-mile trail through meadows and along a river. Forming the headwaters of the Roanoke River, Bottom Creek Gorge boasts spectacular scenery: the second highest waterfall in Virginia, virgin hemlocks and hundreds of wildflowers.

Buck Mountain Trail, 1 mile trail through a lovely little forest, under oaks, maples and pines.

Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve, located Southwest of Floyd, is one of the most significant natural areas in Virginia. It boasts an amazing 13 rare plant occurences, 3 rare animal occurences, and 6 significant natural communities. The combination of high-elevation (3,971 feet), wind-exposed openings at the summit, and magnesium rich soils make it unlike any place else in the Commonwealth (map it).

Chestnut Ridge Trail is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a wide and well-graded path lined with mountain laurel and rhododendron. The trail offers 5.4-mile figure-eight loop trail that can be shortened to 2.5 and/or 3.4 miles. Less than 10 minutes from downtown Roanoke.

Crabtree Falls Trail, 2.9 miles with cascading falls and scenic views.

Explore Park Trail System, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a 1,100-acre preserve situated along the Roanoke River Gorge with a variety of hiking options. 6+ trail options ranging from <0.5 miles to >10 miles – many of which are loop trails. Only 10 minutes from downtown Roanoke.

Flat Top is a classic Virginia hike - 5.2 mile round trip (out and back) hike at the Peaks of Otter. A lovely trail full of wonderful views, large rock formations, and flora that changes with each turn of the trail, including huge oak, poplar, hickory and beech trees, mountain laurel, rhododendron, and an assortment of wildflowers.

Harkening Hill, the lowliest of the three Peaks of Otter, is the only one with a "loop" trail that swings by the top. Harkening Hill sees far less traffic than it’s bigger brother Sharp Top so the trail is in much better shape. Many interesting granite boulder formations are found on Harkening Hill. This is a 3.5-mile loop trail.

Rock Castle Gorge is an incredible 11 mile hike just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are several variations you can do for shorter mileage but it is highly recommended that you complete the entire loop to obtain the best experience.

Sharp Top is a classic 3-mile round trip (out and back) hike at the Peaks of Otter. Sharp Top was long thought to be Virginia's tallest mountain, when in fact, it is not even the tallest of the Peaks of Otter. Nearby Flat Top rises to 4,001 feet. Mount Rogers near the North Carolina border is the state's tallest mountain at 5,729.

Smart View Loop Trail is a 3-mile loop trail located on the Blue Ridge Parkway that offers excellent views of the Virginia Piedmont. Various trails meander through moist deciduous woodlands, hardwood forests, and open fields.

Stewarts Knob Trail is an easy half-mile hike located at mile post 110.6 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.backtotop


JAMES RIVER HIKES
In addition to being an incredible river for fishing and boating, the James River watershed is also home to incredible hiking. Whether you are looking for a short hike or a full day workout, these James River hikes are sure to please.

Apple Orchard Falls is a moderately difficult, 7.5-mile hike with a 200-foot waterfall.

Balcony Falls Trail, located at milepost 71 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a strenuous 5.5-mile trail, one-way hike..

Crabtree Falls Trail, 2.9 miles with cascading falls and scenic views.

Devil's Marbleyard is a 3-mile round trip, out and back hike that utilizes the Belfast Trail. The marbleyard is a unique geological feature that can best be described as a huge rock field with boulders ranging from the size of coffee tables to those of large vans.

Hoop Hole has two loops. The lower loop is 4 miles and skips the views from the ridge top and the extended loop is 9 miles. Both loops offer beautiful views of the streams cascading over rocks and swimming holes. The longer loop climbs to the top of the ridge for scenic views of the surrounding mountains. Use the Iron Ore Trail to connect to Roaring Run.

James River Wilderness Trail is a 21.9-mile section of the Appalachian Trail that parallels the James River. This moderately strenuous trail overlooks the James River Water Gap and offers many multi-day hiking and camping options.

Roaring Run is an excellent hiking trail for the whole family, young and old alike. The easy, well-marked trail begins at an historic iron furnace and winds back and forth along the Roaring Run stream. You will pass rock walls, cascading water, and cross five footbridges before ending at beautiful Roaring Run Falls. Along the way you will pass a natural water slide that is perfect for sliding.backtotop


DOUTHAT STATE PARK & ALLEGHANY HIGHLANDS
The Alleghany Highlands is an outdoor recreation mecca. From biking to fishing to boating, you'll find it all here, including Douthat State Park. Douthat State Park was named one of the nation’s 10 best state parks by the Outside Family Vacation Guide. The park is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the original six Virginia State Parks that opened in 1936. It's nestled in the Allegheny Mountains and features some of Virginia’s most outstanding scenery. There are over 43 miles of varied difficulty trails created originally by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Beards Mountain Trail is a 5.5-mile loop trail located within Douthat State Park that provides great vistas.

Blue Suck Falls Trail is a 9-mile loop trail located within the park that takes you buy several water falls include Blue Suck Falls.

Buck Run & Locust Spring Run Trails are located on the century railroad tram grades used by previous landowner to log virgin timber. The 2.9-mile Buck Run trail provides a spectacular view of beaver ponds, open glades, and bogs. The 3.1-mile Locust Spring Run trail provides views of northern hardwoods and is ideal for viewing whitetail deer and wild turkey.

Cobbler Mountain Trail is 2.67 miles of excellent hiking in the Hidden Valley Recreation Area.

Fore Mountain Trail is a remote 13 mile trail that travels near the highest point in the Allegheny Mountains. It passes through upland hardwoods and pines that are typical of high elevation forests.

Jackson River Scenic Trail is a 17-mile trail in Alleghany County, Virginia, which runs from Covington, Virginia to the Coles Point Recreation Area at Lake Moomaw. The trail, which was developed from an old railroad bed, provides access to many natural, historic and scenic resources. The Jackson River, running adjacent to the trail, contributes a distinct and scenic landscape feature, while providing a natural habitat for reproducing wild trout. The first seven miles is now open to the public for those who enjoy hiking, biking, and nature walks.

McDowell Battlefield Trail leads to the top of Sittlington Hill and the core of the McDowell Battlefield.  This battle, fought on May 8, 1862, was the first victory of Jackson's Valley Campaign during the Civil War.

North Mountain Trail is a 9.5-mile trail that begins at Longdale Recreation Area. It is also an excellent mountain biking trail.

Tuscarora Trail one of the classic trails located inside Douthat State Park. This 10-mile trail is strenuous but you are rewarded with incredible views and wildlife encounters.backtotop


SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE & PHILPOTT RESERVOIR (Franklin County)
Although better known for water sports and fishing, this area also has some great trails to explore.

Fairy Stone State Park, the largest of Virginia's six original state parks, is home to its namesake "fairy stones." These rare mineral crosses and the park's scenic beauty, rich history and ample recreational opportunities make it a local and regional favorite. More than 9 miles of multi-use trails and a lake will keep you busy.

Franklin County Recreational Park is located two miles off Route 220 and is home to trails rolling over beautiful wooded hills, nestled around an acre size fishing pond.
    
Grassy Hill Natural Area Preserve Hiking Trail starts on Technology Drive in Rocky Mount, across from the YMCA. This hiking trail is managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and totals more than 6.6 miles of scenic hiking.

Philpott's Dogwood Glenn Trail is a 5-mile hike with scenic lake, wildlife, and wooded views. This trail stretches from Salthouse Branch at Philpott Lake to the Philpott Park Tailrace. (Map to Salthouse Branch)

Smith Mountain Lake Community Park has a trail totaling 3 miles of pleasant lake and wooded view hiking. Entry and exit points are scattered throughout the park, with signs identifying each.

Waid Recreation Area has 7 miles of hiking trails. These trails travel through rivers, over hills, across farm lands, and atop abandoned dirt roads.backtotop


NEW RIVER HIKING TRAILS
The New River Valley is home to great hikes. Grab your water bottle, lace up your boots, and go explore.

Angel's Rest is a 4.6-mile round trip, out and back hike along a well-worn trail that leads into a spring-fed ravine and briefly along an old logging road before settling into a consistent, thrashing course of switchbacks. The path crosses over two ancient rockslides and passes through thick poplar and oaks, as well as laurel and rhododendron.

Cascade Falls Trail is 4-mile trail out and back hike. Cascade Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls (69’) in Virginia and possibly on the entire East Coast. Little Stony Creek cascades over a vertical cliff in several different streams.

Falls Ridge Preserve has two trails totaling 5 miles. With its nice hiking trails, beautiful waterfall, intriguing caves, rare plants, and convenient location, the Falls Ridge Preserve gets lots of attention. Falls Ridge Preserve is owned and protected by The Nature Conservancy.

Huckleberry Trail
The Huckleberry Trail is an asphalt-paved bike/pedestrian path. The trail currently runs from the Blacksburg library to the New River Mall. There are distance markers every half mile and benches spaced along the trail where you can rest and enjoy the scenery. Parking is available at both ends as well as near Warm Hearth and the Hightop and Merrimac Rd. crossings. The trail is 5.7 miles in length with easy walking and biking options. Located between Blacksburg and Christiansburg.

Kelly's Knob is a 6.6-mile, out and back hike on the Appalachian Trail. Kelly Knob is located on a ridge that bridges the valley between John's Creek Mountain and Clover Hollow Mountain. While Kelly Knob is not the highest point on the ridgelet—(the high point is densely wooded), it is still much higher than its mountain neighbors, thus affording a fantastic vista of the New River Valley.

Mountain Lake Conservancy is a 2,600-acre hiking and birding paradise. Twenty trails will allow you to explore this hidden gem. (trail map)

Pandapas Pond & Poverty Creek Trails is a network of multi-use trails perfect for hiking, running, horseback riding, and mountain biking. More than 20 miles of trails of varying degree of difficulty.

Radford Mountain Bike Park also offers great hiking options. This 100 acre gem overlooking Claytor Lake is Radford's newest area for mountain biking, trail running, hiking, walking and bird watching. Built to IMBA (International Mountain Biking) guidelines, this property features 12 trails that cover 8-10 miles of serene habitat.  The trails vary from easy to advanced.  You will see lots of birds, an occasional deer and even a view of Claytor Lake.backtotop


CRAIG COUNTY HIKES

Dragon's Tooth is a unique geologic feature that consists of Tuscarora quartzite spires which outcrop on the top of Cove Mountain. The tallest "tooth" projects roughly 35 feet above the surrounding rock. The trail to Dragon's Tooth ascends steep, rugged outcrops of quartzite which form the spine of Cove Mountain and North Mountain. The spine is known as Dragon's Back. A difficult hike 4.5-mile round trip, out and back hike, Dragon's Tooth summit offers magnificent views of nearby and distant peaks year-round.

Fenwick Mines, an old mining area with trails and a recreation park. The Mine Trail takes you by open pit mines and foundations of old mining structures. The Fenwick Forest Walk is a one-mile nature trail. The Wetland Trail allows you to observe wetlands created by beavers - follow the trail through wetlands and open forests to see a variety of wildlife and vegetation that live in this environment.

Ferrier Trail & Lick Branch Loop is a 7-mile loop trail that provides good views of Craig Creek Valley and Potts Mountain. Lick Branch offers a cool refreshing walk, except during dry periods. Sign marks intersection of Lick Branch and Ferrier Trails.

Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory is a half-hour hike with great views. The hike takes you to the observatory. Since 1952, Hanging Rock has been a monitoring point for hawk, eagle, falcon, and osprey migration along the birds' eastern route.

Hoop Hole has two loops. The lower loop is 4 miles and skips the views from the ridge top and the extended loop is 9 miles. Both loops offer beautiful views of the streams cascading over rocks and swimming holes. The longer loop climbs to the top of the ridge for scenic views of the surrounding mountains. Use the Iron Ore Trail to connect to Roaring Run.

Lipes Branch Trail is 2.3-mile (round trip) hike up Potts Mountain. The trail passes through the Barbours Creek Wilderness Area and is located near The Pines Campground.

North Mountain Trail, 13.2 miles total, with several shorter loop options. Outstanding views.

Patterson Mountain Trail System is a network of five trails totaling 13.1 miles: Patterson Mountain Trail (6.5 miles), Tucker Trail (1 mile), Helms Trail (1.6), Elmore Trail (2.5), and Loop Trail (1.5).

Roaring Run is an excellent hiking trail for the whole family, young and old alike. The easy, well marked trail begins at an historic iron furnace and winds back and forth along the Roaring Run stream. You will pass rock walls, cascading water, and cross five footbridges before ending at beautiful Roaring Run Falls. Along the way you will pass a natural water slide that is perfect for sliding.

Sulphur Springs Ridge & Price Mountain Trail is located in Craig County. This 5-mile loop offers you a chance to leave everything behind. Odds of running into another hiker - zero. The upper portion of the trail affords views of surrounding valley and backtotopmountains.


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