Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Hiking and Camping in the Virginia Blue Ridge

Sunday June 16, 2013


This is the last post of four on visiting historic Charlottesville,  Virginia and the area surrounding it.  If you have not read the first 3 you can find them in the blog achieve on the right.  The first one is titled Jeffersontown,



At the farm, the view to the west is exquisite.

From the backyard of the farmhouse there is a wonderful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Humpback Rocks on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The sunsets are glorious.  The farm is 23 miles from Charlottesville and about 12 miles from the intersection of The Blue Ridge Parkway and The Skyline Drive at the top of Afton Mountain.  The latter is the gateway to Shenandoah National Park.  Thus, as you can imagine, other than the trails through our woods, they are the hiking trails of choice.  Here is a brief sampling of the trails available just outside Charlottesville.




The Blue Ridge Parkway


Humpback visitor center

The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles of mountain top road connecting the Great Smoky Mountain National Park With Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive.  The end of the Blue Ridge Parkway is on top of Afton Mountain just a few feet from the beginning of the Skyline Drive.  You can take Route 250 from Misty Mountain Campground (see below) or Route 64 from either of the other two to access either wonderful drive.

Your really should not try to do them both in one day unless you must.  Even with one day for each, you will only get a very small sampling of what they have to offer.



pioneer farm2

At Milepost 5.8 or so there is the Humpback Rocks visitor center with a demonstration mountain farm.  Very worth visiting.  On down the road is the trail to Humpback Rock, a great hike.  Humpback Rock is a massive greenstone outcropping with a summit elevation of 3080’.  I know those of you from the west will laugh at that but it’s our rock and we love it!   If you get all the way to the top, look out into the Rockfish Valley to your East and Wave.  We might be there but probably not.





Shenandoah National Park and The Skyline Drive



Skyline drive2

The Skyline Drive runs through Shenandoah National Park.  It’s Markers are opposite those of the BRP which runs from 0 in Virginia to 469 in North Carolina.   In Afton the markers are from Mile Post 101 to Front Royal at Mile Post 1.




Big meadows visitor center


The National park has over 500 miles of hiking trails including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail.  The closest visitor center is at Big Meadows Mile Post 51, about half way up the drive unfortunately although it is a lovely drive of less than an hour and well worth going to.  As you might imagine, the visitor center overlooks a big meadow where there are nearly always deer and sometimes bear or other wildlife and wildflowers to seen.


Big meadow




Jones run2


But there are many trails closer to the southern end if you prefer and when you enter the park, the ranger will give you a map listing them.  The Jones Run Falls trail at Mile Post 84 is a wonderful hike but the falls will be scant in the summer time.   Unlike the Humpback trail, Jones falls, is like most trails on the mountain, a you go down first and then have to climb back up trail.  So save energy for the end.

Also be aware that the trees on both drives suffer a great deal from the air pollution which has limited the view.  In former times, from several spots on the Skyline Drive you could see the Washington Monument to the East and the Alleghany Mountains of West Virginia to the West but it’s been years since that was possible.


Old rag mountain


A local favorite hike is Old Rag Mountain.  This is a rock scramble and a tricky hike but very rewarding.  It is quite popular so I suggest starting early in the day.  If you are short there are some unique challenges.  Best to take a taller buddy. Wear butt scooting pants if possible.  It is a loop hike and you should plan on it taking the entire day.




The adventurous will LOVE this hike.  For lots of folks in these parts it is an annual affair.  But it is a scramble for sure.


Old rag2

Old rag4  





As for campgrounds, here are three nearby.


Because we are from Charlottesville, we have never stayed in any of the campgrounds near here.  Winnona hangs out for free either in Charlottesville or in the barn yard.  That said, there are two very close and one not tooo far away campgrounds.


The closest one is Charlottesville KOA which of course has the normal KOA cautions.  It is accessible from two different directions, Rt 29 South a large 4 lane state highway or Route 20 south a scenic small two lane road.  BUT the campground is on the road between them.  4 miles from the larger road, 1.5 miles from the smaller.  Take your pick. 


The second campground is Misty Mountain Camp Resort and it is easily accessible from Interstate 64 just west of Charlottesville and only slightly down the mountain from The Blue Ridge Parkway and The Skyline Drive.  $35 for W/E,  $42-$45 for FHU at the time of this post.


There is also Small Country Campground in Louisa Virginia about 28 miles East Charlottesville.  Small Country is a Passport America Park and I have heard others say it is a very nice spot especially with the PPA discount.

So that’s finally it.  When I started out to play tourist in my own hometown I seriously had no idea it would take me four posts to do it.  But I would not have had anything but rain to post about otherwise.

Heading north, see you on the road.


  1. My guess is that the rear end view of the hiker is neither yourself or David...too chunky. ;)

    Sherry, I suddenly received email notification of this post. I never signed up for that. I prefer when your posts appear on my dashboard. I tried to unsubscribe to the email version, but don't think I was successful. Could you remove my name from that?

  2. Great pictures and info here. It's a beautiful state with so much to see and so many trails to hike. I look forward to driving from Front Royal to at least Asheville on the two parkways. The only thing is I will probably have lots of company with the leaf peepers out, but maybe if I am there during the last week in September I'll beat most of the crowd. I have no worries about finding a campsite and there are several on the parkways plus any number within driving distance on some of the side roads.

    I'm having a big debate with myself right now as to whether I want to drive into Northern Virginia to visit an elderly aunt who lives in Annandale. But then I'd have to take the Metro into DC for old times' sake. Decisions, decisions.

  3. Nice pictures. We lived fairly close to the parkway for several years and enjoyed driving and camping that area.

  4. Another great review of your Virginia neighborhood. I love the sweeping views of the green countryside. We will be visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway area in the fall.

  5. Sherry you have a beautiful farm in a picturesque place with views and hiking all around. May I ask why do you guys spend most of your time "on the road"?? You have choices and seem to have the best of both worlds. My wife currently leans toward having a home-base; while I long for the excitement/adventure of the road. Can you please advise us?
    Thank-you. Don

    1. Don, this is a complicated issue for us and one that has changed in the past 18 months. I've covered it in the blog and don't want to bore those who've been following us all this time. Since I have no way to contact you, if you'll send me an email at RVDreamlife@gmail.com I'll give you the short version. There are definitely pros and cons.

  6. WOW Sherry... These have been really great posts about the Charlottesville area!!! I will know where to look for info when we finally stop in this area. We just drove up Rt 29 to I64 at Charlottesville today. We waved as we passed by, but I see you and David have already left the neighborhood;o)) Safe Travels!!

  7. Love the Skyline Drive, have traveled it end to end a bunch of times, but never in a car! Always on either a motorcycle or one of our RVs over the years...go figure.

    One day we want to do the BRP end to end, but not sure if it can be done in our current MH, 12'6" high and have read there are lots of tunnels. Have to research that further.

    Glad you're heading North (finally) but I really enjoyed your local posts. I know the rain was a pain for you but I'm glad it did (sorry!). ;c)

  8. Have made many a trip up to Skyline Drive ... stayed at the lodges, and did a lot of the hikes ... including Old Rag. Have always enjoyed the cooler temps and the beautiful scenery ... and the bears, and the deer.

  9. Skyline Drive is such a pretty drive, we did it in the car a few years ago. I can't believe we were that close to your farm! Of course, I didn't know you then but still!

  10. Only drove over the AP once and it was a perfect fall day with all the gorgeous colors. One day I'll have to go east and explore some more. I'm kind of glad you got stuck inside because of rain or I wouldn't know so much about your home area. Hope you got done what needed on the farm.

  11. We only saw a short portion of the BRP, but it was magnificent. Hope to spend a lot more time there in the future!

  12. Oh that is just so beautiful, Sherry. We saw the Blue Ridge Parkway in December of 2007, and I have always wanted to go back when the rhodies are blooming, or when the trees have turned. Nice thing about December, though, was that we could see a very long way with no leaves to block the view.

  13. The BRP travels such beautiful land! So much history and lovely sights to see...totally enjoyed the tour!

  14. ditto with the beauty of your farm and surrounding area. ain't too much any more gorgeous ... just different

    Having choices and being free is ... well, what else is there

    love your area been there twice and was heading that way again until g'babies happened ;)

  15. Great tour and story, Sherry. Sure makes me want to visit that area and I hope we can someday.

  16. Enjoyed this blog and its pictures - it was like I was reliving those hikes!!


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