Hiking / Backpacking

Visit the upcoming activities page to sign up for one of our trips!

Hiking and backpacking are always popular outdoor activities for people of all ages and skill levels.

Check the Outdoor Leadership Program calendar for hiking trips that you can participate in.

"Favorite Hikes of the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club"

This booklet of hikes is available for $5 in the Outdoor Leadership Program office, the LC Campus Store, and the Lynchburg Visitors Center. All proceeds go to a student scholarship fund.

Favorite Hikes of the NBATC was revised by the NBATC and published August, 2010, by the Lynchburg College Outdoor Leadersphip Program in memory of Samuel J. Gamble, associate professor emeritus of chemistry, Lynchburg College. Mr. Gamble authored the first Favorite Hikes of the NBATC in 1985 and was a past president and active member of the NBATC.

Hiking Sites Near Lynchburg

Front Country Sites:

Crabtree Falls

Crabtree Falls is the highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. At a total height of 1,200 feet, it has a series of five cascades. Just one-half mile beyond Crabtree Overlook is the Appalachian Trail. Rated as a moderately strenuous hike; 2.5 mile in length, about an hour from the LC campus.

Directions from campus (main entrance): Turn right onto Lakeside Drive; continue straight as the road changes names from Lakeside Drive to Park Ave. to Campbell Ave. Take the U.S. 29 North exit towards Charlottesville. Continue to follow U.S. 29 North as you pass through Madison Heights and by Amherst. A few miles north of Amherst, turn left on Va. 151. There is a BP gas station on the corner. Follow Va. 151 for about ten miles. Turn left onto Va. 56 West and follow for a few miles until you see the entrance to the parking lot for Crabtree Falls.
http://nelsoncounty.com/visit/crabtreefalls/

Blue Ridge Railway Trail

Open from sunrise to sunset, this trail follows a railroad bed along the Tye River. Handicapped accessible. Less strenuous two miles - will be seven miles when finished. About 45 minutes from Lynchburg College.

Directions from campus (main entrance): Turn right onto Lakeside Drive; continue straight as the road changes names from Lakeside Drive to Park Ave to Campbell Ave. Take the U.S. 29 North exit towards Charlottesville. Continue to follow U.S. 29 North as you pass through Madison Heights and by Amherst. A few miles north of Amherst, turn left on Va. 151. There is a BP gas station on the corner. Follow Va. 151 for about ten miles to the Town of Piney River, where parking is available. If you reach Va. 56, you have gone too far.
http://nelsoncounty.com/visit/hikes/

Blackwater Creek Natural Area

A great place for walking, hiking, biking, and horseback riding; along the trail are local Lynchburg landmarks, including Percival’s Island and Point of Honor. Rated as a less strenuous hike, twelve miles in overall length. 

Back Country Sites:

Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain is the best spot in Central Virginia for 360-degree views of Mount Pleasant, Pompey Mountain, and the meadows in between. The top of the mountain is cleared, allowing for this unlimited view. For a shorter hike of 1.2 miles, one can hike the white-blazed AT (across the road from the parking lot) directly up the mountain). For a longer, 5.8-mile hike that also includes Cow Camp Gap as well as some great campsites, take the blue-blazed hotel trail (also across the road from the parking lot) to the AT, and then hike north back up to Cold Mountain and eventually the parking lot.

Directions from campus (main entrance): Turn right onto Lakeside Drive; continue straight as the name of Lakeside Drive changes to Park Avenue and then to Kemper Street. Take the exit for U.S. 29 North Business (towards Madison Heights, Charlottesville). Follow U.S. 29 North Business through Madison Heights, Monroe, and Sweet Briar. Take the exit for U.S. 29 North towards Charlottesville. Follow U.S. 29 North for a couple of miles and then take the exit for U.S. 60 (there is only one exit for U.S. 60.) At the end of the ramp, turn right (U.S. 60 West) towards Lexington. Keep following U.S. 60 West (past the Appalachian Trail) and then turn right onto Coffey Town Road (Route 634.) Turn right onto Route 755 (Wiggins Spring Road) and follow until it reaches the Mount Pleasant parking area.
http://www.hikingupward.com/GWNF/ColdMountain/

Devil's Marbleyard

The Devil's Marbleyard, located on the Belfast Trail, is an eight-acre boulder field in the James River Face Wilderness Area. The formation provides great climbing fun and great views at elevations between 1,500-2,000 feet. The Belfast Trail has some steep points but mostly inclines gradually up to the boulders. The trail itself is 2.8 miles round trip. Beware of twisted ankles and bruised knees while climbing on the "devil's marbles."

Directions from campus (main entrance): Turn left onto Lakeside Drive; follow for a couple of miles until you reach the U.S. 501 Lynchburg Expressway/Old Forest Road Intersection (where Billy Craft Honda is located). Turn right and immediately get into the left lane so that you can turn left once again to stay on the Lynchburg Expressway (U.S. 501 North). Follow the Lynchburg Expressway (U.S. 501 N) for a couple of miles and then turn left onto U.S. 501 North (Boonsboro Road). Follow 501 north, passing through the Town of Big Island. Once past the town, turn onto the ramp for the Blue Ridge Parkway and then turn south on the Blue Ridge Parkway. At around mile marker 71, turn right onto Petites Gap Road (forest route 781) and follow it down the mountain. You'll pass some farms on your left, and you'll see a small pull-off on the right for Belfast Trail (the trail that leads to Devil's Marbleyard.) Just be sure to park completely off the road, or else you will be towed.
http://www.hikingupward.com/JNF/DevilsMarbleyard/images/Map.pdf
http://www.hikingupward.com/JNF/DevilsMarbleyard/

Appalachian Trail Suggestions

From Petite's Gap to the James River (Northbound)

This hike begins at Petite's Gap, just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The first mile follows along a ridge and is uphill, while the other nine miles continue downhill towards the James River at Snowden, VA. A side trip can also be taken from the trail to the Devil's Marbleyard. This ten-mile hike provides gorgeous views of the James River and the James River Face National Wilderness. The hike ends by crossing over the James River on the longest footbridge in Virginia. To make this a one-way hike, take at least two vehicles and leave one at each end.

Directions from campus (main entrance): Turn left onto Lakeside Drive; follow for a couple of miles until you reach the U.S. 501 Lynchburg Expressway/Old Forest Road Intersection (where Billy Craft Honda is located.) Turn right and immediately get into the left lane so that you can turn left once again to stay on the Lynchburg Expressway (U.S. 501 North.) Follow the Lynchburg Expressway (U.S. 501 N) for a couple of miles and then turn left onto U.S. 501 North (Boonsboro Road.) Follow 501 north, passing through the Town of Big Island. Once past the town, turn onto the ramp for the Blue Ridge Parkway and then turn south on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail is located at Mile marker 71. To get to the footbridge (the other end) stay on U.S. 501 North past Big Island and the Blue Ridge Parkway and cross over the James River. Turn left onto U.S. 501 North/VA 130 West. The bridge is a short way ahead on the left.
http://www.fs.usda.gov/gwj/

From Punchbowl Shelter to the James River (Southbound)

The Appalachian Trail, from Punchbowl Shelter to the James River (Southbound), is a gorgeous trail that journeys through the Pedlar District of the George Washington National Forest. When hiking southbound, the trail travels over Punchbowl Mountain, Bluff Mountain, Big Rocky Row, and Little Rocky Row before descending to the James River. It has a gradual ascent for the first two miles and a sharp descent the last mile, but don't let that stop you! There are many picturesque points along the trail, with views of the James River Face Wilderness Area, the City of Lynchburg, and the Blue Ridge Gorge. There are two shelters and many campsites along the trail.

Directions from campus (main entrance): Turn left onto Lakeside Drive; follow for a couple of miles until you reach the U.S. 501 Lynchburg Expressway/Old Forest Road Intersection (where Billy Craft Honda is located.) Turn right and immediately get into the left lane so that you can turn left once again to stay on the Lynchburg Expressway (U.S. 501 North.) Follow the Lynchburg Expressway (U.S. 501 N) for a couple of miles and then turn left onto U.S. 501 North (Boonsboro Road.) Follow 501 north, passing through the Town of Big Island. Once past the town, turn onto the ramp for the Blue Ridge Parkway and then turn north on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail is located at approximately Mile marker 52. To get to the footbridge (the other end) stay on U.S. 501 North past Big Island and the Blue Ridge Parkway and cross over the James River. Turn left onto U.S. 501 North/VA 130 West. The bridge is a short way ahead on the left.

Spy Rock

Spy Rock is a rock outcropping that at 3,980 feet provides a 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The first half of the trail is really a wide access road that leads to the Appalachian Trail. Once at the intersection of the Appalachian Trail, go left (north) to finish hiking to Spy Rock. Considered a moderately strenuous hike, it is 1.3 miles in length and about an hour from Lynchburg College.

Directions from campus (main entrance): Turn right onto Lakeside Drive; continue straight as the road changes names from Lakeside Drive to Park Ave. to Campbell Ave. Take the U.S. 29 North exit towards Charlottesville. Continue to follow U.S. 29 North as you pass through Madison Heights and by Amherst. A few miles north of Amherst, turn left on Va 151. There is a BP gas station on the corner. Follow Va. 151 for about ten miles. Turn left onto Va. 56 West and follow for a few miles until you arrive in the town of Montebello. Turn left onto Route 690 to the Montebello Fish Hatchery. Beyond the hatchery buildings, there is a parking lot on the right. Camping is just below the rock outcrop. Also along other various points along the Appalachian Trail are: Crabtree Falls, The Appalachian Trail, Blue Ridge Railway Trail.
http://nelsoncounty.com/visit/hikes/

St. Mary’s Wilderness (Saint Mary’s River Trail, Mine Bank Creek Trail, etc.)

Taylor, Ben, Dave and Paul hike in St. Mary's WoldernessThe St. Mary’s Wilderness contains about 10,000 acres of protected land just west of the Blue Ridge Parkway, between Milepost 22.1 (Bald Mountain Overlook) and Milepost 27.2 (Tye River Gap.) The St. Mary’s River runs through the wilderness, and vegetation in the wilderness includes mountain laurel and rhododendron. The land was mined for manganese and iron until the mid 20th century, and ruins of this operation can be seen in the wilderness today. There are several trails within St. Mary’s, including Mine Bank Creek Trail, the St. Mary’s Trail, the St. Mary’s Gorge trail, Cellar mountain trail, and Cold Spring trail. The St. Mary’s Gorge trail leads to the St. Mary’s Waterfall (which is described further in depth in the waterfalls section.) About an hour and a half from Lynchburg College. Moderately strenuous hike of seventeen Miles.

Directions from campus (main entrance): Turn right onto Lakeside Drive; continue going straight as the name of Lakeside Drive changes to Park Avenue and then to Kemper Street. Take the exit for U.S. 29 North Business (Towards Madison Heights, Charlottesville) Follow U.S. 29 North Business through Madison Heights, Monroe, and Sweet Briar. Take the exit for U.S. 29 North towards Charlottesville.

For the St. Mary’s River trail: A few miles north of Amherst, turn left on Va. 151. There is a BP gas station on the corner. Follow Va. 151 for about ten miles. Turn left onto Va. 56 West and follow for several miles, into the town of Vesuvius. In Vesuvius, turn right onto Route 608 (Cold Spring Road.) You’ll turn right again onto an unmarked road that goes under a bridge. Follow this road until you reach Forest Road 42. Turn right onto Forest Road 42 and follow until it reaches the parking lot for the Saint Mary’s River Trail.

For the Mine Creek trail: Follow U.S. 29 North for a couple of miles and then take the exit for U.S. 60 (there is only one exit for U.S. 60.) At the end of the ramp, turn right (U.S. 60 West) towards Lexington. Keep following U.S. 60 West (past the Appalachian Trail) until the junction with the Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn onto the ramp for the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the end of the ramp, turn to go north. Follow the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mile Marker 23. At Mile Marker 23 there will be a small road and parking lot on the left. There is an overlook on the right side that can be used as a turn around if the driver misses the turn. Just in case you ever wanted to know: Directions from MINE CREEK ENTRANCE TO ST. MARY'S RIVER TRAIL ENTRANCE: From the parking lot, turn right onto the Blue Ridge Parkway (heading south.) Take the ramp for Va. 56 and follow to its end at Va. 56. You will want to go west. Follow Vs. 56 into the town of Vesuvius. In Vesuvius, turn right onto Route 608 (Cold Spring Road.) You’ll turn right again onto an unmarked road that goes under a bridge. Follow this road until you reach Forest Road 42. Turn right onto Forest Road 42 and follow until it reaches the parking lot for the Saint Mary’s River Trail. Camping is excellent here.
www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=wildView&wname=Saint%20Mary's

Rockfish Valley Loop Trail

The Rockfish Valley Loop Trail is run by the Rockfish Valley Foundation, whose mission is to “preserve the natural, historical, ecological and agricultural resources of the Rockfish Valley.” There are currently three trails on the site, and more are currently under construction. The area is known to be great for bird watching and for going on a leisurely hike. Less strenuous six miles about one hour and ten minutes.

Directions from campus (main entrance): Turn right onto Lakeside Drive; continue straight as the road changes names from Lakeside Drive to Park Ave to Campbell Ave. Take the U.S. 29 North exit towards Charlottesville. Continue to follow U.S. 29 North as you pass through Madison Heights and by Amherst. A few miles north of Amherst, turn left on Va. 151. There is a BP gas station on the corner. Follow Va.A 151 for about twenty miles. Turn right on Route 627 (Glenthorne Loop) and follow for about one-half mile to the trailhead. Crabtree Falls, Spy Rock, The Appalachian Trail, and Blue Ridge Railway Trail.
http://www.rockfishvalley.org/blog/trails/

The Peaks of Otter

Otter Creek Trail, off of Blue Ridge ParkwayLocated along the border of Bedford and Botetourt Counties, the Peaks of Otter are a natural beauty. On clear days from the summit of Sharp top (elevation 3875 ft), one can see Bedford and the surrounding area. The trail itself is entirely uphill (obviously) and can be tough for the more sedentary. There is also a shuttle available to the top ($.) The Peaks of Otter are located at milepost 86 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rated as a very strenuous one and a half mile hike; overall length is about forty-five minutes from the LC campus.

Directions from campus (main entrance): Turn left onto Lakeside Drive; continue straight as the road changes names from Lakeside Drive to Forest Road through Bedford County. Continue through Forest, into the City of Bedford. Once in Bedford, make a right turn at Va. 43 and follow for several miles until you see the parking lot for the Peaks of Otter, which is located just before Va. 43 intersects with the Blue Ridge Parkway. YES, you can camp at the nearby Peaks of Otter campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway ($.) Also camping at the Claytor Nature Study Center is possible. Contact Greg Eaton, Director of the Claytor Nature Study Center at Lynchburg College. Also note the Appalachian Trail is nearby.
http://www.nps.gov/blri/

Links to other related sites:

Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club