current camping & hiking close-outs and specials
...deep discounts on better quality gear
these trekking poles saved my knees!
...give them a try!
Virginia Hiking Trail Finder
This site is designed to provide quick, organized access to informative Virginia hiking websites. Private hiking enthusiasts like you have created excellent web pages on Virginia hiking trails -- then posted those pages on free web servers -- only to be ignored by search engines. The purpose of this site is to provide a way to find these personal hiking pages, and make your research easier.
Shenandoah National Park
Virginia Trail Sites
- Alta Mons Trail four-mile trail through a meadow, then along a Purgatory Creek, crossing three times on rocks, up a valley to Styles Falls. Near Shawsville. Site by Blacksburg YMCA.
- Appalachian Trail Bedford Area Backpacking & hiking "adventure." Journey begins at the Thunder Hill overlook, elevation 3,472 feet, on the Blue Ridge Parkway mile marker 74.8. Site is very well documented with numerous excellent photos. This site is sponsored by Liberty House Inn, Bedford, VA.
- Blue Ridge Parkway Trails nice listing of key trails with mile posts and other directions & tidbits. On TheOutdoorForum.com website.
- Bull Run/Occoquan Trail Fairfax County's best kept secret. The Bull Run/Occoquan Trail is maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, which is where this page resides. Excellent write-up by Andy Hiltz
- Bull Run Conservancy/Bull Run Mountains Extremely informative page by on the MidAtlanticHikes.com site; includes directions, a photo, topo maps, 3D maps, commentary, explanation, you name it. Good page.
- Charlottesville Area Rivanna Trails Foundation. The goal of the RTF is to establish a 20+ mile network of footpaths encircling the City of Charlottesville, and generally following the course of the Rivanna River and its tributaries. Links to specific Rivanna Trails.
- Fairfax Trails home site of the Fairfax Cross-Country Trail, the Pimmit Run Trail, others. Good "official" site with maps, photos, trail descriptions, etc.
- General awesome database of over 1500 places to hike and walk in Virginia. Searchable, with trail links, descriptions, maps...outstanding site created by David Fortney. Anyone who hikes in Virginia should bookmark this site.
- General another outstanding site called HikingUpward.com, Virginia resident Tony Van Vugt runs it. Emphasis is George Washington NF, Shenandoah NP. Excellent, excellent site -- commentary, directions, topo maps, altitude profiles, you name it. Another must click.
- George Washington National Forest -- Massanutten Trail/Signal Knob Trail Popular -- if somewhat lengthy hike -- description with key mile posts on the USFS website.
- Great Falls Trail Blazers organization seeks to develop multi-purpose trails throughout the Great Falls community. Provides links to trail maps for the area.
- Jefferson National Forest Here's a flash format map on the USFS website, they call it a locator map, it's one of those where you hover the mouse over it and click on specific locations. It then takes you to a rather in-depth page for that locale. Really a great, great page to know. If the USFS makes many more pages like this, you won't need the ol' slackpacker anymore.
- Massanutten Trails Comprehensive page by Mike Juskelis on the MidAtlanticHikes.com website. Topo maps, photos, descriptions, directions, you name it. This is a must-click if you're a George Washington NF hiker. Trails include Shaw's Gap/Sherman's Gap Loop, Signal Knob/Mt. Meneka Loop, Duncan Knob Loop, Kennedy Peak Loop and others. An interactive map will appear first; you can always scroll down for an alpha listing if you prefer.
- Mt. Vernon Trail along the George Washington Pkwy. Site maintained by Fairfax Trails, with maps, descriptions, etc. Good site.
- New River Valley Area hike roster by YMCA of Blacksburg/Virginia Tech. Index of trails with difficulty, length, descriptions, directions. Good site.
- Old Rag Easily the marquee climb in the commonwealth, for a few reasons. Close to DC, views of mountains and valleys, and a rock scramble that easily gets into class 2 category. The open summit is a wonderland of rock and 360º views. This page describes the Old Rag Trailhead route. It involves a parking fee, but it's worth it. Don't let Old Rag's modest 3268' summit elevation fool you; the climb is a respectable 2200' vert. Personal page by Robert Broeking has enjoyable narrative, and photos to give you a good feel for the hike.
- Old Rage after reading the more interesting account above, this link on Summitpost.org is a good place to get directions to the trailhead.
- Peaks of Otter Area trail descriptions, photos, etc. This site is sponsored by Liberty House Inn, Bedford, VA.
- Pine Mountain Area key hiking area on Virginia/Kentucky border. This is an outstanding website by John Pitt, with links to highly informative descriptions of virtually every trail in Pine Mountain and surroundings, including Cumberland Gap, Kingdom Come State Park, and more. Well done.
- Prince William Forest Park hiking trail page on the National Park Service Site. Great hiking opportunities, not much detail on this page but does provide a trail-by-trail overview. Helpful.
- Roanoke Area Greenways site includes trail info, efforts to add more trails, etc.
- Reston Area Site by restonpaths.com; promoting trails in this community. If you are persistent, click on the trail links, then the individual trail names, you will find outstanding trail maps, descriptions, narratives & photos. Good site.
- Rock Castle Gorge 11 mile hike near Blacksburg The Rock Castle Gorge National Recreation Trail is a moderate to strenuous 11 mile loop with elevations ranging from 1,700 to 3,572 ft. Good trail description & info by Blacksburg YMCA.
- Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area This is a Forest Service site, easily one of the best sites the Feds have made. It uses a link & menu format to connect you with the well-known trails in the Mt. Rogers area, including the Appalachian Trail, Virginia Creeper Trail, Beartree Lake Trail (accessible), Comers Creek Falls Trail (a short hike to a beautiful waterfall), Hale Lake Trail, Raven Cliff Furnace Trail (a short trail leading to a Civil War era iron furnace), Four Trails Circuit Trail near Hurricane Campground, Rowlands Creek Falls Circuit, Rushing Waters Circuit, West End Circuit, and Iron Mountain trails. Also includes the Two Ponds Self-Guiding Environmental Trail at the Mount Rogers NRA headquarters. Links take you to more descriptive pages. This is a must-click website...score one for the USFS.
- Mount Rogers This is the homepage for the Mt Rogers Appalachian Trail Club, which has all sorts of information on getting involved, but not a lot on the trail itself (at least not that we could find).
- Virginia Creeper Trail a multiple-use National Recreation Trail on a former railbed connecting Abingdon, VA, with the Virginia/North Carolina state line approximately one mile east of Whitetop Station, VA. Hikers, Cyclists, and Equestrians will find its 33.4 miles pass through some of the most rugged and picturesque country in the Eastern United States! This is a fairly comprehensive guide to the Virginia Creeper Trail; nice site.
- The Virginia Creeper Trail Club is a private nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to maintain, promote and preserve the Virginia Creeper Trail corridor and to help develop and conduct public education programs regarding the scenic and natural qualitites of the Virginia Creeper Trail. This is their website; the one immediately above is a better guide but this one is worth a look as well. Good group to get involved with.
- Virginia Creeper Trail Info Site another point of view on this popular trail; this site by Michael & Kimberly Wright is a great resource for basic info, services along the trail, and a helpful calendar of events. Easy site to navigate.
More than a name on a wall
Once upon a time, on each fourth of July, a small town in Virginia boiled down everything good about this fine country and served it up in a celebration known as "Happy Birthday USA." It featured one of the most popular American musical groups of the last half century, a huge parade, entertainment from morning til night, capped off with fireworks...all free to anyone who wanted to show up. When the event began in 1969 a few hundred locals joined the fun; within a few years annual attendance surpassed 100,000. Now try to imagine that after 25 years, the cumulative number of arrests relating to the event never reached double digits.
It all happened in Staunton, nestled on a few small hills in the Shenandoah Valley. It's a quiet, mom-and-apple-pie sort of place where neighbors engage in front porch conversations about fishing and little league fundraisers. It also happens to be homebase for the most awarded act in the history of country music, The Statler Brothers.
The Statlers started the July 4th tradition by presenting an afternoon concert, a sort of "thank you" for the townsfolk. Within a couple of years the show moved into the high school football stadium, and eventually outgrew that venue and moved next door to the minor league baseball park.
By the 1980's Happy Birthday USA was the "happening" July 4th event in Virginia, complete with committees, multiple warm up acts, visits from the Governor and other politics. I had known about this event for a few years, and always said it was one of those things I'll do someday. Prior to the 1994 show, the Statlers announced that it would be their last. As a fan, I recognized that it was now or never.
Line-up to "reserve a spot" began at 11:00 pm on July 3rd. You had to place your own lawn chairs on the field, and leave them there until the next evening. (Imagine that in New York). We were to enter the baseball field after the gospel show, and most people just chatted amicably as we waited on line.
At half past midnight a young man waiting nearby left to inquire about the delay. He returned saying that "tempers are getting pretty short up by the gate!" I asked him what he meant by that, and he replied "I think one woman cussed...well, I don't know that she actually cussed, but she sounded real close to cussing!"
The morning parade was led by Virginia Governor George Allen, on horseback, tipping his cowboy hat like a young Roy Rogers. Bands, clowns, marchers, then Senator Charles Robb, followed by his opponent, Ollie North. They in turn were followed by a variety of local or little-known celebrities, until finally, the Statler Brothers on a flatbed truck. The day continued with a small carnival, miniature train rides, and assorted concerts at the ballfield. Seeing all these events unfold, I began to understand why 100,000 folks would show up for this, why they would arrange seating in a painstaking but fair process, and why Statler fans might come close to "cussing" but somehow hold back. Woodstock could learn a thing or two from Staunton.
Finally, showtime. Every song was met with loud applause. After the sun set, Jimmy Fortune launched into "More than a Name on a Wall," a touching tribute to a soldier killed in Vietnam. This number drew a few tears, and the longest, most earnest applause -- fitting the July 4 holiday nicely. The Statlers burned through dozens of favorites, with none of the dull "new ones" or interminable tune-ups required at any rock concert. They sang a couple of patriotic numbers, and played an encore. While some people rushed out, most stayed for the fireworks show, which was truly a pleasure. When it was all over, we walked to our car and prepared for the promised traffic nightmare.
We were out of town in seven minutes.
A diet of Adkins
The best "general" hiking guide for the commonwealth of Virginia is the tried-and-true "50 Hikes" series; this time in two volumes. The first is
50 Hikes in Northern Virginia: Walks, Hikes, and Backpacks from the Alleghany Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay
by Leonard M. Adkins & Leonard Adkins; the second is
50 Hikes in Southern Virginia: From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean by Leonard M. Adkins. These links are on Amazon.com and will enable you to save a few bucks, particularly if you can find a used copy.
Frederick? Fredricksburg? Whatever.
Took some ribbing for confusing these towns. One is in Maryland, the other, Virginia. My reply was as follows...
Honest mistake. One southern civil war town is the same as the next; ask any tourguide. "Folks, we're gonna exit here by the Cracker Barrel. Over there is the battlefield. And just to the east here is where the Union Army made a ridiculous tactical blunder and got slaughtered by a much smaller Confederate force, so they used their superior numbers to cut off and starve the rebels for a long, long time. Meanwhile the Union Generals had more stupid ideas, so they had plenty of needless deaths and disasters during the seige. Eventually the rebels surrendered, and did you know President Lincoln asked the band to play "Dixie" after the war was over and that the black community had an active role in the conflict? We'll repeat this recording at the next exit."
-- Rick Bolger
Please click here for the Slackpacker web site
Want to add YOUR Virginia hiking page? It's free, it's easy, and there are no strings attached. Please click the "Submit a site" button, above left, for instructions and complete information.
Links to Nearby Hiking Pages:
[Delaware] [D.C.] [Kentucky] [Maryland] [North Carolina] [Pennsylvania]
[South Carolina] [Tennessee]
Got kids? Got kids? Recently caught this guy, Brady Rymer, at a show in the northeast. Infectious to say the least, a fun, energetic sing-along type thing had the audience singing and grinning from ear to ear. Now don't ask why, but I bought the CD (my own kids are teenagers) and now I can't get these tunes out of my head. If you've got kids between the ages of 2 and 7 or thereabouts, you'll just love this music. So much better musically and lyrically than the usual drivel recorded for kids, that mind-numbing stuff that drives you nuts. If you don't have kids, you'll have to think up some other excuse for buying it. And when you do, let me know, because my daughters think I'm crazy. Not sure where'd you find it in stores, so here's a direct link to Amazon.com for I Found It! and again, the singer's name is Brady Rymer. Just great stuff, excellent gift for pre-K kids.