I parked by the lodge and hiked from the Wildcat Rocks Overlook to Bluff Mountain and the Alligator Back shelter, before heading back. This part of the trail follows very beautiful mostly open rolling terrain. And the views from the crest of the hills are wonderful, particularly on the spectacular fall day I was lucky to get!
A nice trail skirting the Blue Ridge Parkway from Flat Rock Ridge up to Bluff Mtn peak. Mostly forested but some open areas for views down into the valley below. You can access the trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway at around MM 240 and 245 or so. There's a lookout area at both MM's. The trail from MM 240 up to Bluff Mtn peak is steep so be prepared for that. Once you are up on the peak it is a beautiful view. Well worth the heart pumping hike.
I hiked the Flat Rock Ridge trail and the Bluff Mountain trail ending with the Bluff Ridge Primitive trail. Both Flat Rock Ridge and Bluff Mtn trails have good elevation gains. Some switch-backs are peppered around to help with the steep gains. It is a great trail though. You are mostly taking the ridge line up to the Blue Ridge Parkway if you start down at the trailhead on Long Bottom Rd. Once you get to the stop of Flat Rock Knob you get a great view across the way to Bluff Mountain. A great spot to stop and have lunch. The trail is not well traveled but easy to follow as it is well blazed. Flat Rock Ridge trail has a blue blaze while Bluff Mountain trail is Yellow blazed.
The Bluff Ridge Primitive trail is very strenuous. The trail goes down a steep ridge from Bluff Mountain shelter to the primitive campground off Grassy Gap Fire rd. This is known to be a "knee buster" trail. It is very steep and no switch backs to help with the elevation loss. Be sure you are up to the task for this trail. The primitive trail is brown blazed.
I only went about a mile on this trail today, will have to go back and finish. You can tell there isn't a lot of foot traffic, about every few feet you walk through spider webs. I suggest getting a stick unless you enjoy walking through spider webs :)
We parked one vehicle at the Brinegar Cabin overlook (trail access) and our other at the Doughton Park picnic area 5 miles south on the BlueRidge Pwy.
(Note: In our hurry to setout hiking we missed the fact that the trail has two access points at opposite ends of the parking area. )
We inadvertently took the South trail head for nearly a mile before correcting. It gave us all a good laugh and time to stretch before enjoying our 5 mi hike (N) to our pickup vehicle.