Zach Hoopes

A Virginia Tech Hokie exploring the Blue Ridge and beyond one weekend at a time.

This hike is one of the most difficult day hikes I have ever done, I have done many. The trail is actually a road for ATVs, and consequently is blazed differently than a normal trail. Instead of switchbacking up a mountain, the trail just shoots straight up it at some very steep angles. The view from the summit is glorious! But you have to work hard there and back. Try to get on the trail very early, that way your ascent will be in the shade.

This hike is very short but there are views in every direction and plenty of room to sit down and soak them in. A great vista!

I have not met many people in the area familiar with this trail. It is overshadowed by some of the more popular hikes in the region. But it is certainly a nice hike. I would recommend trying it sometime during the year when leaves are mostly fallen off the trees because the view is partially blocked otherwise.

This is a beautiful and lightly hiked trail. We took the directions according to the descriptions above. The trail is not very well kept it is narrow and difficult in places. It is also not well marked. It follows light green blazes, that blend in well with the moss if you don't pay attention. The blazes are also old and worn, and in places you won't see one for a while. That being said, we did not get lost, even with minimal preparation. As a warning, some of the best views are from just beyond the parking lot. Much of the trail is down in the gorge. This trail is very steep for long stretches in some places and I would not recommend it to beginning hikers, but for those who are looking for a little bit of a challenge, it is a great option. It took us 4.5 hours to complete including a 15 minute lunch break.

The scrambling is a great challenge and there is an infinite number of ways to get up and down the marble yard. Not to mention the views are incredible at the top. I will say that it is much longer than it looks, and the going is slow because you have to plan each step. A must do adventure for anyone who likes a little bit of an outdoors challenge.

Tinker Cliffs is one of the more difficult hikes in the region. The trail is very steep in quite a few places and the elevation gain is pretty consistent. That being said, the views are second to none in the area. If you are looking for a trail more challenging than McAfee's or Dragon's Tooth but still with breathtaking views, you have found your hike.

Flat Top may be less crowded than Sharp Top, but is definitely strenuous. The trail is not as rocky and in most places, not as steep as Sharp Top, but the constant upward grade could be tough for inexperienced hikers. That being said, the views are fantastic! When you reach the summit there are two main overlooks, one looks West, the other, just a 2-minute walk to the other side of the summit, looks East. The Views are definitely worth the uphill work. A great hike!

This is a great little hike. At just under 4 miles round trip it is easily done in a half a day and a great choice if you have already tried Sharp Top and Flat Top, or on a crowded day. This peak is actually higher than the others surrounding it, but while the views are a nice payoff, if you are after a breathtaking vista, try the two mentioned above first. But if you are looking for something else this hike is a great time. Also, the elevation change is closer to about 750 feet.

The cascades is a great hike, but for those looking for something a bit longer and a bit more challenging, Barney's wall is a great choice. The additional trail once you pass the cascades is more challenging than the first part, but is well worth the view and some extra mileage to turn your hike into a fuller day on the trail.

The trailhead of this hike, the back of a commuter lot, may seem uninspiring but it quickly gets beautiful. The instructions for finding your way in the description are excellent. Once you get to the top of the ridge there are quite a few outcrops along the way to Hay Rock, each with a beautiful view. I particularly enjoyed the hike because looking out over water is a special sight in the region. An excellent hike and a short commute for anyone living near Roanoke!

The hike is an easy one, the loop is short and not steep at all. The view, while not as great as some, is still a beautiful sight. A nice and easy half day hike.

This hike is a tough one. At 3 miles in and out, it is short but the elevation change is dramatic. It is marked as an hour and a half to get to the top, which is a good time for those who don't hike often, but more experienced hikers could do it in under an hour. The summit leaves lots of room to soak in the 360-degree views which are some of the best I have seen in the region.

This hike is steep, but it is so short that you are there before you thought possible. There is lots of space to sit and watch the sun go down over the opposing mountains. The wind can move up there so if you plan to stick around bring another layer. An easy hike, an incredible view, wonderful for after work or a quick hike to take advantage of unexpected great weather.

Just go. We got to see the herds of wild ponies three times on our day hike up and back. The scenery is some you would never imagine in Virginia. The horses manage to keep a lot of the hike well grazed leaving for countless incredible views all along the hike. The summit itself is well forested, so it doesn't have any view, but if you there you might as well make it to the highest point in VA. This hike is a must!

To avoid some crowds and enjoy a really unique hike, don your headlamps and get up to McAfee's to watch the sun rise over the mountains to the east. The hike itself is not particularly difficult, the gradual ascent is manageable, but if you don't want to take it you can walk along the fire trail about half way to the top before connecting with the trail again.

The dragon's tooth rocks are a sight to behold! The hike starts off very easy with gradual elevation, about half way up it gets steeper and demands a little rock scrambling at times. I would not recommend pets though I have seen some out there. Another amazing hike in the Shenandoah, but this hike is well known and can get crowded, so get out there early or pick a weekend to get those teeth and their great views all to yourself.

This is a great hike that manages to fly a little under the radar. As soon as you hit the trail, you begin to ascend consistently and it gets pretty steep in places, so though it may be a bit shorter than some other hikes the vertical can slow you down a bit. Once you get to top and hop on angels rock keep going .6 miles south on the AT, this part is almost completely flat. You will reach the Wilburn Valley Overlook, a totally different view looking east. Definitely a great hike, especially if you like a quiet trail.

Old Rag is a classic, must do hike. When you arrive at the parking lot, its takes a .75 mile walk on pavement to reach the trail head. You begin to ascend almost immediately. The rock scrambling that begins a few miles up make the hike lots of fun for the adventurous. The views from the summit are glorious. This hike is well known so start early or try a weekday to make sure you have some space.

This hike can be considered more of a nature walk. The trail is well defined and easy to manage with a very rewarding view at the end. It is a gradual incline about the whole way up but is certainly not difficult. During the summer you can jump in the water to cool off. This hike is very popular and so it can be very crowded during weekends.

Did an early spring hike, starting from the Jewell Hollow Overlook. A great hike for someone who wants a solid hike without too much of a challenge. The trail can be rocky in places. There are 3 or 4 small outcroppings as you hike with great views looking westward. Once you get to Mary's rock, you can climb up for a 360-degree view. There is plenty of space to grab lunch but shade immediately near the rock is limited. All in all an amazing hike.