Explore the most popular birding trails in Doughton Recreation Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

A great workout with 2,460 elevation gain! Not many good views with the leaves on the trees, but still a nice hike. The park ranger At Brinegar Cabin shared that the trail has been used for 140 years as a way for people to get from the Long Bottom Community to Sparta. There are very cool retainer walls all along the trail. A do again when the leaves are down.

My review is from the perspective of an amateur landscape photographer

I hiked the portion of the hike from the Doughton Park parking lot to Bluff Mountain. This review covers just that portion of the trail

From the parking lot the trail to the picnic area is part of the Mountains to Sea Trail There are about 2-3 nice areas with views of distant mountains, fields and rugged rocks.

From the picnic area you have a nice sunset view looking west to the distant mountains. An even better view is to hike the Bluff Mt trail toward the shelter. But turn left at the junction instead of right and take trail to Bluff Mt. About 200 yards past the junction along the trail you’ll find open space with an excellent view to the west. A 28-135mm lens will work great.

My review is from the perspective of an amateur landscape photographer

This is an above average sunrise location along the BRP. The “hike” from the parking lot to the viewpoint is about 100 yards Anyone can do it unless you can’t negotiate stone steps.

There are some rocks that can be used for foreground interest but only if you are using a wide angle lens. The mountains are rather distant and I used a 28-135mm lens on a C-size sensor to highlight the mountains.

There are better sunrise landscape locations along the BRP but given the ease of getting to the viewpoint this would be a good choice for those with either limited mobility, young children or limited time.

I started from Brinegar Cabin on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Most of the time I hike uphill (on an out and back) leaving a down hill return. I was looking for a challenge since the weather was unusually cool for July. The trail is well marked and easy to follow. There are some trees down which are not difficult to navigate. There is water at Brineger Cabin and creek at the end.

I hiked the full loop from the base yesterday. Cedar Ridge trail up to Brinegar cabin then across the park on the Bluff Mountain trail before coming back down the mountain on Flat Rock Ridge. Please do not attempt the full loop unless you are in very good physical condition. It was 17.4 miles total, and I think this time of year (late March) is a great time for it as the lack of foliage means that the entire length of the trail has gorgeous views. This is one of my favorite places.

5 months ago

Walked whole loop with my son, in Sept 2017. It was beautiful. Not a lot of scenery due to foliage. It was a great experience. Started at campsite: took Bluff Mtn Trail, down the mountain on Flat Rock Ridge and then back up mountain on Cedar Ridge Trail and then back to campground.

5 months ago

Basing my stars on Stone Mountain, BUT I am going there in two weeks, which direction should I go for the quickest route to the best features? What are the best features? Bluff Mountain and Alligator Back shelter. Thanks for any info:)

trail running
5 months ago

Shoutout to Parker and Andrea. Loved the big open highlands on this trail. There's 5 parking spots along this trail, so you can drive anywhere to each section. There's a shelter at the top of the summit before you hit the primative trail.

Beautiful views and a great hike.

7 months ago

My winter rating is ☆☆☆☆. I want to come back in warmer weather when there is more daylight to hike the loop. Trail is nice. Most of it was covered in snow and ice. More comment will be added to my summer rating

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Moderate with plenty of tree cover and good surface. Would be spectacular views of valley if in winter. I'll be back when foliage is gone also.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

beautiful biews - cold rainy day for hiking!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Beautiful view, Trail isn't too hard to do either

Monday, April 17, 2017

great view, not much of a hike.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I did this trail with my three kids and two dogs. I loved the varied terrain and multiple fantastic views we got along this trail. Sometimes we were hiking in open grassy hills, sometimes the terrain was rocky and wet and sometimes it was just soft pine needles. We did not find the beginning of the trail. We started at a big picnic area between 240 and 245 and ended up hiking a total of 11.3 miles. This hike is definitely worth it for the multiple views you get of the mountains and valleys. We hiked it during a low time so we didn't have too much of a problem with traffic noise from the road.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Such a beautiful trail with diverse views!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Definitely a challenging great day hike, we did this in May, when the Rhododendrons and Mountain Laurel were starting to bloom. Cedar Ridge is a great uphill and we took a peek inside the Brinegar Cabin. Bluff Mountain trail is a bunch of ups and downs with several good views, hiking in open meadows, plus a nice shelter and some really nice views at Wildcat Rocks Overlook. Sorry to see they have closed Doughton Park visitor center and lodge. Only con about this hike was going down the Flat Rock Ridge trail which was COVERED in spider webs - luckily we had hiking poles we could hold up in front of us to take most of the webs out of the way [sticks will work too]. You can also take the Primitive Trail down which cuts off a couple of miles. As we arrived back at the parking lot on Longbottom Rd, we got hit with a short downpour, but got back in the car quickly. Overall an excellent tour of Doughton Park.

Monday, February 13, 2017

This trail is longer than indicated on Alltrails. It is 4.4 miles one-way from the parking area at Grassy Gap Fire Road to Brinegar cabin, for 8.8 miles round trip. NPS indicates it is over 2000 feet elevation gain while it's probably no more than 2500 feet of elevation change it does seem more than that if you weren't expecting it. The grade is never extremely steep but it is very consistent with few flat spots and multiple switchbacks. Some of the steepest sections were at the very beginning while climbing away from Grassy Gap fire road. There are a few rock outcrops that provide great views overall this was a really enjoyable hike.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Beautiful trail with amazing views. Right along the BRP so there is a lot of road noise but in between the traffic you are amazed by the view.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I hiked a section near Brinegar Cabin last winter, and just hiked the area between Wildcat Rocks Overlook and the Alligator Back shelter on Bluff Mountain. This is a great trail, and I hope to be able to hike the entire length one day soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Just a short path from the parking area. But the view is tremendous, and you can combine it with the Bluff Mountain Trail for a wonderful hike.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

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!

Grate fill's like going up to the top of the world even though it was just 2100 feet to climb up felt like you were way higher than you were!!

Monday, July 04, 2016

Nice hike! You can hear road noise from parkway on some of it. Sad the coffee shop is closed.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Do no this this trail. If you are anywhere near and want the vistas you have always thought associated with he Blue Ridge Mountains then you have to walk this trail


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

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.

Monday, October 26, 2015

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.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

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 :)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Great views!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

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.

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