Yesterday I spent the day hiking up to the peak of Sharp Top Mountain. Sharp Top was once thought to be the tallest peak in Virginia—it’s not, far from it—and it’s one hell of a climb. The trail starts at the Nature Center at the Peaks of Otter entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. A really good synopsis of the hike can be found on VirginiaTrailGuide.com.
Looking up at Sharp Top Mountain from the Peaks of Otter Lodge. Zoom in to the original size to see the far-off peak that was my destination.
The trail starts off looking so nice and innocent. But that’s just the calm before the storm…
This trail becomes horribly rocky and relentlessly steep very quickly. It’s a solid 1.5 miles of upward climbing.
The first good view. This is about two-thirds of the way up.
Almost there. I took the side trail to Buzzard’s Roost first. It was definitely worth it. Although not as high—and not having complete 360-degree views—Buzzard’s Roost is actually more awe-inspiring. It’s basically just a ledge of boulders perched—seemingly quite precariously—on the side of the mountain. It’s hard to describe but it feels more remote, more solitary.
Looking down from Buzzard’s Roost.
Looking up at Sharp Top from Buzzard’s Roost. If anything, the climb looked even more daunting from here. The actual peak is the small bump on the right side of the very top of the mountain.
Finally made it to the top. I was well and truly exhausted at this point.
Looking back down at Buzzard’s Roost.
View of one of the many valleys visible from the top of Sharp Top.
Looking back at the Lodge, where I took the first picture in this post.
As I said above, this was a tough hike. It doesn’t take long—I got to the peak in ninety minutes—but it is very steep and rocky. There is an available shuttle that will take you most of the way to the top, though, if you just want the sights without the hiking experience. As hard a climb as it is the views make it all worthwhile. One would be hard pressed to find two better vantage points so close together—and reasonably accessible—anywhere in the state. I recommend the hike, just make sure you’re in shape for it and take a lot of breaks on your way up.
My complete photo set, including a lot of photos straight out of the camera, is here.