1. Buzzard Rock (Location Link)
|Boy Scouts enjoy view west from Buzzard Rock in 2015, including my son wearing the bandanna headband.|
2. Rhododendron Gap, Mt. Rogers Highlands (Location Link)
About 7 miles north on the A.T. from Buzzard Rock (and less than a mile north of the Mt. Rogers Access Trail) is Rhododendron Gap in the Mt. Rogers Highlands. Where the A.T. intersects with the Pine Mountain Trail and the Crest Trail there is a large rock that I thought required a tough climb the first couple of times I passed it. It turns out that there is an easy access from the trail around the back. The view from the top looks northeast towards Grayson Highlands State Park. I loved the sunrise from this spot!
|The rock in the back of this photo provides a spectacular view.|
|Sunrise at Rhododendron Gap, August 2015|
The Chestnut Knob Shelter is my favorite A.T. Shelter in Virginia. A friend and I stayed inside this cabin on a cold and windy October night in 2014 and were very grateful that it had four walls. The shelter is at a high point 4400 feet above sea level. One direction gives views into Beartown Wilderness. The other direction gives views into Burke's Garden. Viewing sunrise in Burkes Garden is an experience I will never forget.
|Burke's Garden from the A.T. at the Chestnut Knob Shelter, October 2014|
The trail north from Dismal Falls is truly a "green tunnel" where you feel disconnected from the rest of the world. There are no views for hours until you come to this viewpoint northward, with views of Pearis Mountain and the New River Valley towards Pearisburg. It was wonderful to see out from the trees - a view this spectacular was a bonus! You can trace the path of the A.T. over the next 6 hours of hiking from this spot. A couple hours north of here is Angel's Rest Overlook - it is probably better, but I have no photos of that or real recollection of its beauty.
|View north to the New River, July 2014|
Just north of the New River, a recent re-route completely changed the location of about 4 miles of trail climbing Peters Mountain. I hiked both routes in 2014, and they came back together at the Rice Fields Shelter. Near the shelter is an overlook into West Virginia that allows the hiker to experience sublime sunsets. I'd love to go back again.
|Rice Fields, April, 2014|
|Boy Scouts enjoy the view from Rice Fields|
McAfee Knob is well known because it is the ultimate selfie spot anywhere on the Appalachian Trail. It also has a killer view of the ridge that the A.T. traverses to the north, along with the valley to the west. I had heard about this spot for years before I finally experienced it, and it lived up to all the hype and then some. I had what I call a "Grand Canyon Moment" here, thinking that no photo in the world can do justice to the magnificence of the view from this spot.
|Doing the Hiker Photo Thing at McAfee Knob, February 2013|
The Tinker Cliffs overlook is a couple hours hike north of McAfee Knob. Because Tinker Cliffs looks right down the valley, I felt that the view is better, on the day when I did both. Note that you can see McAfee Knob in this photo - it is on the high point to the left in the photo.
|Tinker Cliffs, February 2013|
|The James River cuts through the Blue Ridge as seen from Fullers Rocks, with the James River Face Wilderness|
on the right side behind the river
|Panorama from Fullers Rocks, July 2013|
Cole Mountain is the ultimate place to sing "The Hills Are Alive" along the A.T. in Virginia. The Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club maintains the summit as a bald, and one can see mountains from Trayfoot in Shenandoah National Park to McAfee Knob south of Roanoke. Every time I return there, I always am amazed by the view and wonder why I don't return there more often.
The Priest is a big climb from the north - ascending from about 1000 feet at the Tye River to over 4000 feet at the summit. There is a view at the summit, but I always prefer the rock about 2/3 of the way up the mountain with its northeastern views. Especially in the winter, this is a nice warm spot to sit and enjoy a snack and a great view, knowing that most of the climb is behind you.
|Looking north towards Three Ridges from The Priest|
|Looking East from The Priest|
10. Hanging Rock, Three Ridges Wilderness (Location Link)
This part of the A.T. has plenty of great overlooks, starting at Spy Rock to the south to additional views in the Three Ridges Wilderness. I have always liked the view from Hanging Rock the best among the Three Ridges views because it looks straight down the valley. Hanging Rock is the northernmost viewpoint along Three Ridges and about 2 miles south of the Maupin Field shelter.
|Hanging Rock, Three Ridges Wilderness|
|My son and a friend looking down to the Tye River from Hanging Rock in 2013.|
Blackrock Summit may be the easiest to reach of any of the listed overlooks. As a result, there are lots of little kids climbing the rocks on this summit. It is a great place for new hikers to check out.
|View from the trail as it crosses Blackrock Summit. Trayfoot Mountain is on the right.|
12. Mary's Rock, Shenandoah National Park (Location Link)
|My son lunching in 2010 at Mary's Rockx, Shenandoah National Park, wearing his Hiking Upward tee shirt.|
You can see the SNP Entrance Station below.