The Destination is Worth the Journey

by Casey | Posted on April 25th, 2013

Hikers know the pay-off to a tough climb is sometimes what you find at the end. If you’re new to hiking or just looking for a great view to photograph, enjoy with a loved one or bask in, these are for you.

Spy Rock

Spy Rock

Noted as possibly the best viewpoint in the central portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Spy Rock is a rock outcrop at 3,980 feet with 360 degree panoramic views. It’s a two mile hike from Montebello Fish Hatchery in Montebello up to the Appalachian Trail and onto Spy Rock.

From atop Birch Knob Towers on Pine Mountain in Clintwood one can see Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. On a clear day, Ohio is even in view. Get there by climbing 183 stairs for an elevation of 3,144 feet. While it’s not a true hike, it is an incredible reward for climbing stairs. Additionally, a two-mile trek from the parking lot leads to Jenny Falls.

Fifty miles on a clear day. That’s how far you can see from Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve in Floyd County. The elevation is 3,971 feet but you can reach the summit with a half-mile hike. More unique than the views it yields are the rare plant and animal species in the natural area. The treeless summit is home to subalpine vegetation.

Fern Lake from Pinnacle Overlook. Photo by Scott Teodorski.

Fern Lake from Pinnacle Overlook. Photo by Scott Teodorski.

Pinnacle Overlook affords quite a view. Take a peek when you visit Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Ewing. The view of Fern Lake in Kentucky (left) isn’t the only awesome thing about these 24,000 acres. Check out the waterfalls, Skylight Cave, Gap Cave and unique rock formations, too.

Peaks of more than 5,000 feet have an alpine feel to them, not to mention breathtaking vistas. Where are they? Mount Rogers (5,728 feet) in Marion and Whitetop Mountain (5,520 feet) in Mouth of Wilson. They’re the highest and second highest points in Virginia, respectively.

Serious hikers might be interested in tackling The Priest Mountain (4.063 feet) or Three Ridges, a rugged area with rewarding views. Both areas are deemed wilderness and are accessible by the Appalachian Trail in Nelson County.

A different type of view is just as rewarding as the scenic views that are mentioned above, and that is of The Channels Natural Area Preserve. The Channels are a series of giant sandstone boulders with eroded crevices. As avid outdoorswoman and Virginia Tourism Corporation staffer Danielle Emerson puts it, “it’s the ultimate game of hide-and-seek.”

What are your favorite Virginia hikes? See a list others have suggested at Virginia.org/Hiking.

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One Comment

We shared the rock with a couple more thru-hikers. (there are still quite a few in Virginia – although I think the bulk of the pack is north of here, headed into Pennsylvania and beyond). This pair didn’t seem to be having the best day on the trail, so we left them to their conversation. We enjoyed the view for a short while and then hiked back – thankfully, all downhill.

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