Backpacking with Brooke: Roanoke Mountain
ROANOKE, Va. – The Roanoke Mountain overlook is about a 2 mile round trip hike that is a great way to start the morning! You’ll park off the Blue Ridge Parkway right at the Roanoke Mountain Road intersection. With each turn up the road, the view through the trees got prettier and prettier. As we came upon the overlook, you can see the mountains start to pop up in front of you. The view was amazing, and the overlook had photos that showed what mountains were where- you could even see the tip of the Mill Mountain Star from the top.
Backpacking with Brooke: Panther Falls
BUENA VISTA, Va. – Panther Falls is a swimming hole just outside of Buena Vista. You’ll take Panther Falls Road for about three miles, then you’ll start to see cars lined up in the small parking lot. It was pretty cold but the more we walked along the river, the more we got used to it. There was a lot of people when we went, and we noticed a group underneath the falls swimming through a cave. On another set of falls, there were natural water slides into a pool.
Backpacking with Brooke: Barney’s Wall and the Cascades
PEMBROKE, Va. – Barney’s Wall and the Cascades is a 4 mile round trip hike that has mountain and waterfall views. Full disclaimer, if you don’t have four wheel drive, you probably won’t make it up to this spot. Walk up the road a few yards then the sign for the trail is on your left. Not the cascades, but definitely a pretty part of Little Stony Creek. But we made it, and I would recommend this hike for sure, but maybe on a cooler day.
Backpacking with Brooke: Fallingwater Cascades
BEDFORD, Va. Fallingwater Cascades is a 1.7 mile loop hike that features a waterfall nestled in a mountain. Youll begin your descent down to the falls to the right. After about ten minutes, youll begin to hear the trickle of the water through the mountain. Finally, youll arrive at the Fallingwater Cascades. This hike took us about an hour and was a good way to get out and stretch our legs.
Backpacking with Brooke: Turtle Island
HUDDLESTON, Va. Turtle Island is an easy 1.2 mile hike that leads to an island on Smith Mountain Lake. The hike is located in the Smith Mountain Lake State Park, and cost $7 for parking. You will start at the sign for turtle island, heading to the left. When we were finished, we followed the trail up the middle of the island and took the loop to the left back. If you are heading to Smith Mountain Lake to visit the beach, I highly suggest checking this hike out.
Floating with Brooke: Roanoke River
ROANOKE, Va. Its still hot so were hitting the river! Were floating a stretch of the Roanoke River where youll put in at Bridge Street at the Roanoke Greenway parking lot, and pull out at the bridge in front of the River House in Wasena. Once everything is blown up, youll walk down a short path to the river. I promise we checked the forecast before we went- but its a summer in Roanoke, we all know how this story goes! After a little rain this week, it took us about an hour and a half.
Floating with Brooke: Cowpasture River
We decided we were going to float a section of the Cowpasture River just outside Clifton Forge. But due to my lack of patience, I gave up pretty quicklyThe last half hour or so was pretty slow moving as the sun sank lower in the sky. Of course, the timing depends on how fast or slow the river is moving. In this case, the river was very slow and was moving slow. It was a fun way to spend the hot day, and this stretch of river was easy, safe, and anyone can do it.
Backpacking with Brooke: Buffalo Mountain
WILLIS, Va. Buffalo Mountain is a 2.2 mile loop just outside of Floyd that offers gorgeous 360 degree views from its peak. Youll park in the lot for Buffalo Mountain Nature Preserve. After about 15 minutes youll start to see a little ridge through the trees. At about half a mile youll hit the first traverse. On the way back, we took the Ridge Trail, which loops back to the parking area.
Backpacking with Brooke: Craig Climb
SALEM, Va. The Craig Climb at Greenhill Park in Salem is a super short, but steep hike, that anyone can do. Youll park at the very back of the park by the picnic shelter. The trail map signals the start of the climb. At the trail head, Craig Climb is the trail to the right. Follow the trail to the left, and then after a few paces youll head to the right.
Backpacking with Brooke: Sawtooth Ridge
CATAWBA, Va. Sawtooth Ridge is a short but rewarding hike on the Appalachian Trail. On the trail map youll see that youre going to head in the opposite direction to the ridge. That trail will start at the back of the parking lot with the at signs heading south. The terrain of the trail is pretty smooth, as you can see I hiked in my chacos and was fine. For a short hike, this part definitely got our heart rate up!
Backpacking with Brooke: Rocky Knob Trail
FLOYD, Va. – Rocky Knob Trail is a 2.3 out and back located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. We parked at the Rocky Knob campground area, which is closed, so we pulled onto the grass. You’ll head through the fat man squeeze and lock the gate back behind you. The sign will direct you right to the Rocky Knob Overlook, and we started on our way. he first fork in the trail you’ll head right, and a few meters later, there’s another one where you’ll go left.
Backpacking with Brooke: River Walk to Blue Ridge trail at Explore Park
You’ll head right, as the Rock Fish trail will take you down to the River Walk trailThis trail is mostly gravel but has a few grassy areas on the way down. This is also a hot spot for camping, with easy access to the Roanoke River. Once you get to the bottom of the Rock Fish trail, you’ll merge with the River Walk. The trail is about a quarter mile, and dumped us back out on the river walk. We walked down along the sand near the bank, just off of the river walk trail.
Backpacking with Brooke: Blue Suck Falls
MILLBORO, Va. – Blue Suck Falls is a 6 mile out and back trail located in Douthat State Park. There’s lots of hikes to do at Douthat, but we chose Blue Suck Falls that is about 3 miles to the top and includes the hiking double whammy- a waterfall and a nice view. Along the sound of the stream, you’ll start a small incline as you head to the falls. Two miles into the trail you’ll arrive at Lookout Rock. It was truly at this moment when I was wondering why I was doing a six mile hike in 90 degree weather.
Backpacking with Brooke: Falls Ridge Preserve
ELLISTON, Va. – Falls Ridge Preserve just outside of Blacksburg has a nice one mile or three mile loop option to get out in nature. You’ll navigate to Falls Ridge Preserve and park in the gravel lot. We headed up a big set of stairs with the sound of the falls in the back. You’ll continue down the trail for a few meters, and come to another bend. Head down the set of stairs we passed earlier, and you’ll be at the bottom of the falls.
Backpacking with Brooke: Mill Mountain
You will see a path that leads to the start of the monument trail. The monument trail is marked with yellow blazes. A quarter mile later, you will be met with the intersection to continue the monument trail to the bottom of the mountain, or take the star trail up to the top. We sat on the bench for a minute and drank some water, then took the star trail to the top. This part of the trail is a little steeper as it starts to traverse up the mountain.
Backpacking with Brooke: Poor Mountain Hike
ROANOKE, Va. – Poor Mountain Hike is a must-see in the Roanoke Valley. You’ll park off of Twelve O’clock Knob Road in the lot of the Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve. We went at the perfect time, a little chilly, but spring has sprung on the mountain. The bottom of the mountain has a nice stream running through and then you’ll take the Piratebush Loop 1.1 miles to the top. Finally, the trail will flatten out as it rounds the top of the mountain.
Backpacking with Brooke: Rice Fields Hike
NARROWS, Va. – The Rice Fields hike is located near Narrows and is a steady five mile out and back hike with stunning views from the top. You’ll park just off of Pocahontas Road on a gravel pull-off, then backtrack a few paces down to the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. This hike is marked with white blazes, and follows the AT 2.5 miles around the mountain. The beginning of the hike traverses back and forth as you steadily ascend. After you’re done basking in the sun and enjoying the view, head back down the way you came.
Backpacking with Brooke: Sharp Top Trail
BEDFORD, Va. – Sharp Top Trail at Peaks of Otter is a 3 mile out and back hike that is frequented by many in the area! The initial ascend it pretty steep, a sign warns to wear suitable hiking footwear. About midway up, the trail turns pretty rocky, with stone stairs helping out the incline. Alas you’ll find yourself with the option to go left to Sharp Top or right to Buzzards Roost. You can climb on top of the rocks to see a nice 360 and look up at the Sharp Top peak as well.
Backpacking with Brooke: Buzzards Rock Trail
ROANOKE, Va. – Buzzards Rock at the Read Mountain Preserve is located near Cloverdale in a neighborhood right off of U.S. 220. You’ll follow the sign for Buzzards Rock Trail. Shortly after, you’ll come to a fork with a sign for rocky way trail. You’ll want to stay straight to remain on the way to Buzzards Rock. When you see the sign for the view looking across the valley, you’re about a half mile from the top.
Backpacking with Brooke: Cole Mountain Hike
ORONOCO, Va. – Cole Mountain hike is located just thirty minutes outside Buena Vista, offering amazing views in an almost 6 mile loop. Look for the entry way with two blue blazes. This is a loop trail that is roughly five miles up, and one mile down back to the parking area. This is where it starts to get a little steep and you’ll start a moderate ascend to a camp site about a half mile later. From there you will follow the blue blazes as you start your descent to the bottom of the mountain.
Backpacking with Brooke: Roaring Run Loop
EAGLE ROCK, Va. – About six miles off of 220 north lies Roaring Run. The hike is an out and back 1.7 miler that is dog friendly and a popular trail year round. To access the hike, park in the lot and walk along the gravel road until you see the information board. There’s options to do a few different routes, but we went with the most popular one and followed the arrows to Roaring Run Falls. And there’s no need, the view is beautiful from the overlook, nestled between brown rocks, moss, and trees.