Virginia’s Winter Hikes
by Casey | Posted on January 8th, 2013
The leaves are gone and the views are stupendous. Get out and exercise your legs and heart with a brisk hike.
Just southeast of Virginia Beach, five miles south of Sandbridge, lies False Cape State Park, one of few remaining undeveloped areas along the Atlantic Coast. False Cape offers a chance to experience unspoiled nature with a huge migratory bird population and a variety of wildlife, plants and trees. The park is accessible only by foot, bicycle, beach transporter, tram or boat. Between November 1 and March 31, access to the park is restricted to the beach or via the park’s beach transporter, the Terra-Gator. Call for Terra Gator reservations.
Cold Mountain Loop (also called Cole Mountain) is so beautiful at the summit with a wide open meadow on top of the mountain with gorgeous views as far as the eye can see. This hike is considered moderate and is a 5.7-mile loop that intersects with the AT on the mountain above Buena Vista. To get there, drive route 60 east out of Buena Vista, cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and continue about 4.5 miles to a left on route 634, followed by a right on route 755 / Wiggins Spring Rd (unpaved) to Hog Camp Gap. Continue less than half-a-mile to see the Mt. Pleasant Trail Head sign.
Humpback Rocks encompasses 800 acres along the Blue Ridge Parkway between MP 5 and 9.3 just outside Waynesboro. This area is perhaps the best representation of the varied combination of natural and cultural resources anywhere along the Parkway corridor. The prominent rock outcrop was a landmark guiding wagon trains over the Howardsville Turnpike in the 1840s. A portion of the historic trace still exists. Milepost 5.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Download the Trail Map
The Peaks of Otter – Sharp Top, Flat Top, and Harkening Hill – are amazing peaks that have dominated the landscape of both the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia for centuries. Access Sharp Top and Harkening Hill at MP 86 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Park at the Visitor Center and take the Sharp Top Trail 1.5 miles. The elevation gain is 1,540′; a strenuous climb. Harkening Hill is accessible from the same parking lot and is a more moderate three-mile loop. Flat Top can be accessed between MP 83 and 84. You’ll see a parking area and the trail picks up to the south, winding upward 1,640′ over the course of about four miles. The trail continues to Abbott Lake or you can turn around and head back to your car. Download the Trail Map
A wildly popular Shenandoah National Park trail is the one leading to Whiteoak Canyon. Why so popular? Six waterfalls reward your effort, and we’re confident their icy beauty will be worth the trek (watch your step!). The falls range from 35 to 86 feet. Hike in one mile for the lower falls or on up another two miles (and steeper grade) to the upper falls. Park off route 600 at the Boundary Trailhead. Or, access Whiteoak Canyon from Skyline Drive at milepost 42.6. You’ll encounter the upper falls first on a 4.6-mile out-and-back hike. If you wish to go to the lower falls, know that it’s a steep climb back up and adds another 2.7 miles round trip. Download the Trail Map
Discover more great Virginia hikes and leave us a comment to tell us yours!
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* Updated January 14, 2014.