The Blue Ridge Parkway Hiking Trails

A Planned Trip Up The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is actually the most visited of all American National Parks. The Parkway extends 469 miles mostly along the crest of the Blue Ridge mountains through North Carolina and Virginia. It encompasses some of the oldest sites of both prehistoric and early European settlement in the country. Colonel Joseph Hyde Pratt first suggested the parkway in 1912, and it was begun during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The project was a major contributor to helping the people of the area get through the Great Depression with significant work done using the Civilian Conservation Corp. Originally called the Appalachian Scenic Highway it wasn’t actually completely finished until 1987. The Blue Ridge Parkway contains almost 400 miles of hiking trails that aren’t just a natural wonderland but offer a remarkable window into the history of the first hundred years of this country as settlers moved west seeking land and opportunity and leaving their mark on the mountains.

This is an introduction and part 1 of our planned exploration of this American treasure. We’ve been planning an itinerary for a two week trip sightseeing and hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains for some time. Below you will find a directory of the hiking trails along the Parkway and a copy of The National Park Service map of the parkway in one complete downloadable HD pdf.

We’re leaving in a couple of days as the summer heat breaks and plan on posting about our trip and hikes along the way (I’ve counted 22 waterfalls).

We hope you find our copy of the map and the trail guide useful.

Please Note: A Blue Ridge Parkway trip is measured by mile markers starting at 0 at the entrance in Virginia all the way to MP 469 at its end in Cherokee, North Carolina and the location of trails are marked by these mile posts (MP).

VIRGINIA TRAILS BY MILEPOST

Milepost 5.9Mountain Farm Trail (self-guiding, from Humpback Visitor Center to pioneer farmstead) Length: 0.25 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 6 Appalachian Trail (Humpback Gap parking area to Humpback Mtn., elev. – 3650 feet) Length: 2 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Milepost 8.4Catoctin Loop Trail (leg stretcher) Length: 0.3 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 8.8Greenstone Trail (self-guiding; Greenstone geology formation; oak hickory forest) Length: 0.2 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 17.6 The Priest (view) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 18.5 White Rock Falls Trail Connection Length: 2.9 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 20 White Rock Falls Trail (follows stream to small falls) Length: 0.9 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 26.3 Big Spy Mountain (view into Shenandoah Valley; good for stargazing) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 34.4 Yankee Horse (to logging RR exhibit & small waterfall) Length: 0.2 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 38.8Boston Knob (leg stretcher) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 47.5 Indian Gap (to Indian Rocks; good seasonal rhododendron display) Length: 0.3 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 55.2White Oak Flats (leg stretcher) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 60.8 Otter Creek Trail (begin at Otter Creek Campground) Length: 3.5 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 63.1 Otter Lake Trail (around Otter Lake) Length: 0.8 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 63.6James River Trail (Self-guiding to canal locks) Length: 0.2 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Trail of Trees Trail (self-guiding to James River Overlook) Length: 0.5 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 74.7 Thunder Ridge Trail (leg stretcher loop to view of Arnold Valley) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 78.4 Apple Orchard Falls Trail (Sunset Field Overlook to view of Apple Orchard Falls; National Recreation Trail) Length: 1.2 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Milepost 79.7Onion Mountain Loop Trail (leg stretcher through Appalachian deciduous forest with rhododendron display) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 83.1Fallingwater Cascades Trail (National Recreation Trail; loop to view of cascades) Length: 1.6 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 83.5Flat Top Trail (leads to highest of three prominent peaks in area) Length: 4.4 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Cross Rock Trail (spur off Flat Top Trail; unique geological features) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 85.7 Abbott Lake Trail (loop around Abbott Lake) Length: 1.0 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 85.9Elk Run Trail (self-guiding loop nature trail from Peaks of Otter Visitor Center) Length: 0.8 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Johnson Farm Loop Trail (loop to restored mountain farm) Length: 2.1 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Harkening Hill Trail (elevation -3300 feet; begin at Peaks of Otter Visitor Center) Length: 3.3 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Balance Rock (spur trail off Harkening Hill Trail; unique geological formations) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 86Sharp Top Trail (from camp store to summit of Sharp Top Mtn.; elevation – 3875 feet; 360 degree panoramic view) Length: 1.5 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Milepost 91Appalachian Trail (VA 695 to Sharp Top Mtn. Overlook) Length: 1.9 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 92.5 Appalachian Trail (Sharp Top Mtn. Overlook to Harvey’s Knob Overlook) Length: 2.9 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 95.4 Appalachian Trail (Harvey’s Knob Overlook to Motvale Overlook) Length: 0.6 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 95.9Appalachian Trail (Montvale Overlook to Taylor’s Mountain Overlook) Length: 1 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 96 Spec Mine Trail (USFS Trail begins near Montvale Overlook, to State Rt. 645 in Botetourt County) Length: 2.8 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Milepost 97 Appalachian Trail (Taylor’s Mtn. Overlook to Blackhorse Gap) Length: 0.8 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 110.6 Stewarts Knob Trail (view) Length: 0.05 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 114.9Roanoke River Trail (self-guiding river loop) Length: 0.35 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 120.4 Roanoke Mountain Summit Trail (view) Length: 0.11 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 120.5Chestnut Ridge Trail (adjacent to Roanoke Mtn. Campground) Length: 1.75 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 121.4 Roanoke Valley Horse Trail (begins US Hwy 220, parallels Parkway to Milepost 110.6) Length: 18.5 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 123.2Buck Mountain Trail (to summit view) Length: 0.53 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 154.5Smart View Loop Trail (around picnic area) Length: 2.6 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 167.1Rock Castle Gorge Trail (loop from campground along ridge over Rocky Knob and into gorge for 7-mile return to campground) Length: 10.8 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Hardwood Cove Self-Guiding Nature Trail (part of Rock Castle Loop) Length: 0.8 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 169Black Ridge Trail (Rocky Knob Visitor Center to Black Ridge to Grassy Knoll and back to Visitor Center) Length: 3.1 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Rocky Knob Picnic Loop Trail (leg stretcher around picnic area) Length: 1.0 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 176.2 Mountain Industry Trail (Mabry Mill) Length: 0.5 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 179.2 Round Meadow Creek Loop Trail (walk through a stream bottom forest) Length: 0.5 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 213 High Meadow Trail (leg stretcher) Length: 1.35 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Fisher Peak Loop Length: 2.25 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

NORTH CAROLINA TRAILS BY MILEPOST

Milepost 217.5Cumberland Knob Trail (ideal lazy-day walk) Length: 0.5 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Gully Creek Trail (rewarding loop that meanders by stream) Length: 2 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Milepost 218.6 Fox Hunters Paradise Trail (view) Length: 0.2 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 230.1Little Glade Millponds (easy loop stroll around pond) Length: 0.4 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 238.5Cedar Ridge Trail (great for day hike; vistas and forests) Length: 4.2 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Bluff Mountain Trail (parallels Parkway to Milepost 244.7) Length: 7.5 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 241Fodder Stack Trail (great variety of plants) Length: 2.89 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Milepost 243.7 Grassy Gap Fire Road (wide enough for side-by-side hiking) Length: 6.5 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Basin Creek Trail (access from back-country campground) Length: 3.3 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 244.7 Flat Rock Ridge Trail (forest path with vistas) Length: 5.0 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 260.3 Jumpingoff Rocks Trail (forest path to vista) Length: 1.0 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 264.4 The Lump Trail (to hilltop view) Length: 0.3 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 271.9 Cascades Trail (self-guiding loop to view of falls) Length: 0.5 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 272.5 Tompkins Knob Trail (to Jesse Brown Cabin) Length: 0.6 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 294Rich Mountain Carriage, Horse, & Hiking Trail Length: 3 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Flat Top Mountain Carriage, Horse & Hiking Trail Length: 3 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Watkins Carriage, Horse & Hiking Trail Length: 3.3 Miles Skill Level: Easy/Moderate

Black Bottom Carriage, Horse, & Hiking Trail Length: 0.5 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Bass Lake Carriage, Horse & Hiking Trail Length: 1.7 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Deer Park Carriage, Horse, & Hiking Trail Length: 0.8 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Maze Carriage Horse & Hiking Trail Length: 2.3 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Duncan Carriage, Horse, & Hiking Trail Length: 2.5 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Rock Creek Bridge Carriage, Horse, & Hiking Trail Length: 1.0 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 294.1 Figure 8 Trail (short, self-guiding loop nature trail) Length: 0.7 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 294.6 Trout Lake Hiking & Horse Trail (loop) Length: 1.0 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 295.9 – Green Knob Trail (to Green Knob) Length: 2.3 Miles Skill Level: Moderate/Strenuous

Milepost 296.4 – Boone Fork Trail (stream, forest, and meadows) Length: 4.9 Miles Skill Level: Moderate/Strenuous

Milepost 297 – Price Lake Loop Trail (loop around Price Lake) Length: 2.3 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 304.4 Linn Cove Viaduct Access Trail Length: 0.16 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 305.2 Beacon Heights Trail (10 minutes to view) Length: 0.22 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Tanawha Trail (diverse biological and geological features) Length: 13.5 Miles Skill Level: Easy/Moderate

Milepost 308.2Flat Rock Trail (self-guiding loop) Length: 0.63 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 315.5 – Camp Creek Trail (leg stretcher throught laurel and rhododendron) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 316.4Linville Falls Trail (view of upper Falls) Length: 0.8 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Linville Gorge Trail (view of lower Falls) Length: 0.5 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Duggers Creek Trail (loop to view of Duggers Falls) Length: 0.25 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 316.5 Linville River Bridge Trail (leg stretcher to view of unusual bridge) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 320.8 Chestoa View Trail (30-minute loop to vista) Length: 0.63 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 339.5 Crabtree Falls Loop Trail (loop to view of Falls) Length: 2.0 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Milepost 344.1Woods Mountain Trail (USFS) Length: 2.0 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 350.4 Lost Cove Ridge Trail (USFS) Length: 0.6 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 351.9 Deep Gap Trail (USFS) Length: 0.2 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 355Bald Knob Ridge Trail (USFS) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 355 Big Butt Trail (trail continues on USFS lands) Length: 0.2 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Milepost 361.2Glassmine Falls (view of Falls) Length: 0.05 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 361.2Craggy Pinnacle Trail (to panoramic view) Length: 0.73 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 364.2Craggy Gardens Trail (first portion is self-guiding nature trail) Length: 0.84 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 374.4 Rattlesnake Lodge Trail (woodland walk) Length: 0.5 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 382 Mountain-to-Sea Trail/MTS Trail (from Folk Art Center to Milepost 365, spring wildflowers and views, parallels parkway, many accesses) Length: 7.5 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 393.7Shut-In Trail/MTS Trail (Bent Creek-Walnut Cove) Length: 3.1 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Milepost 397.3Grassy Knob Trail (steep trail to USFS area) Length: 0.9 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Shut-In Trail/MTS Trail (Sleepy Gap-Chestnut Cove)Length: 0.7 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 398.3 Shut-In Trail/MTS Trail (Chestnut Cove-Bent Creek Gap) Length: 2.8 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Milepost 400.3Shut-In Trail/MTS Trail (Bent Creek Gap-Beaver Dam Gap) Length: 1.9 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 401.7 – Shut-In Trail/MTS Trail (Beaver Dam Gap-Stoney Bald) Length: 0.9 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 402.6Shut-In Trail/MTS Trail (Stoney Bald-Big Ridge) Length: 1.2 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Milepost 403.6Shut-In Trail/MTS Trail (Big Ridge-Mills River Valley) Length: 1.2 Miles Skill Level: Moderate/Strenuous

Milepost 404.5 Shut-In Trail/MTS Trail (Mills River Valley-Elk Pasture Gap) Length: 1.2 Miles Skill Level: Moderate/Strenuous

Milepost 405.5 Shut-In Trail/MTS Trail (Elk Pasture Gap-Mt. Pisgah)Length: 1.7 Miles Skill Level: Strenuous

Milepost 407.6 Mt. Pisgah Trail (summit view) Length: 1.26 Miles Skill Level: Moderate/Strenuous

Buck Springs Trail (Pisgah Lodge to view)

Milepost 408.5Frying Pan Mountain Trail Length: 1.65 Miles Skill Level: Moderate/Strenuous

Milepost 417 East Fork Trail (USFS, access to Shining Rock Trail System) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Easy/Moderate

Milepost 418.8Graveyard Fields Loop Trail (loop by a stream) Length: 2.29 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 419.4 John Rock Trail (leg stretcher to view) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 422.4 Devil’s Courthouse Trail (panoramic summit view) Length: 0.42 Miles Skill Level: Moderate/Strenuous

Milepost 427.6Bear Pen Gap Trail (access to Mountains-to-Sea Trail) Length: 0.22 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 431 – Richland Balsam Trail (self-guiding loop through spruce-fir forest) Length: 1.47 Miles Skill Level: Moderate

Milepost 433.8Toy Taylor Overlook Trail (paved trail to overlook) Length: 0.1 Miles Skill Level: Easy

Milepost 451.2 Waterrock Knob Trail (summit view) Length: 1.18 Miles Skill Level: Moderate/Strenuous

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