Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Jefferson National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Rented a bike and rode 17 miles of the trail downhill to Damascus from White Top. Not a bad way to spend a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. Great family outing if you have younger kids. Scenic views along the river were amazing in places.

This is a great hike for people who want to see wildlife. I started off early morning around 8 and saw 4 deer, a cat, and a black bear with a cub. Be sure to bring protection and know what to do in a bear encounter! I did neither and got pretty shaken up. Didn’t even notice how difficult it was after that.

The views were amazing and I think this hike is definitely worth the trip! Not only were the overlooks pretty but the hike itself was really pretty as well.

7 days ago

Enter through Grayson Highlands (Wilburn Ridge), first day of hike. No signs posted, but passed a few campers Approx 1 mile before first shelter. Strongly recommending camping in Wilburn ridge, if willing to add the extra mile to day 2 (shelter doesn’t have 360 views/giant rock outcroppings). Day 2 Took AT SOBO around Mt Rogers. At head of Lewis Fork Trail, took an immediate right onto Crest & started off of All Trails map supplied, cutting off a substantial distance to make up for lost time. ~1600ft elevation gain in ~1/1.5 miles. Highly recommend for those not afraid of taking on an incredibly hard section with dense/lush mossy rainforest. At end & interection with Pine Mt trail, came into a giant blueberry grove, run in with a bear as a bonus. Jumped back on AT. Camped night 2 just before Wise shelter, mid-night bobcat screams to wake up everyone in camp were an additional thrill. Day 3 was incredibly quick (mostly downhill, only hiked about 2 hrs). Would recommend spending more time hiking/camping in the first half of the hike (best views, explorative possibilities, and ponies!), and powering through the last portion in a day.

Beautiful trail. Changing landscapes, rhododendron meadows, ponies, cattle. Some up and down challenging climbs, but nothing too technical.

Beautiful trail on a beautiful day! Well worth the drive!

Bald Knob is 1/2 mike hike but is very steep. Gorgeous views at the top!!! We saw Lady Slippers and Jack-In-The-Pulpit on this trail.

13 days ago

did this as a day hike with my dog on 5/19/18. Had been a rainy week and the trail was flooded out in spots. Rivers running right down the trail. But despite the wet trail, it was very nice. Started at Grindstone campground and took Mt. Rogers trail up to the A.T. to the summit. 7 miles from the campground to the summit one way. All the wonderful views are on the A.T. and the are well worth the effort!

For starters this is not a hard trail.. at all. It’s long as it’s a point to point distance not a loop, but it is not difficult.

This trail is long and very underwhelming. It’s not difficult and does not demand a lot of attention. I found myself becoming bored with this trail early making it a painfully long hike.

The views are average at best. There are much. Better hikes with better views less than 2hrs from this trail.

I will say it’s not overly busy, which is nice.

Great day for a hike. Left early due to chance of thunder storms but got lucky. I think I like this route better than from Grayson Highland since you're hiking through the forest. Several people I met on the trail asked about the views and you just have to realize it's not about the View. As always Mt. Rogers is just different and unique. Great smell in the cedar forest. Actual distance is closer to 9 miles

Terrific Moderate to Difficult hike mostly because of the lengths. The elevation gain is mostly gradual. I did this hike with the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and was put to shame by an incredibly fit 70+ year old woman. All season hike depending on the weather and temps and suitable for backpacking.

Great trail for all skill levels.

This is a pretty hard trike. Some points it feels like your going straight up. It has good views but I've seen better.

The hike starts out with a steep climb up Gateway trail. I took the connecting trail to Snake Root trail (and saw a snake!) then poverty creek horse trail to Jacobs ladder, another steep climb. Fantastic workout and an absolutely beautiful trail system. No dramatic overlooks but lush plant life, some wildlife, and pretty creek crossings along the way. I set up my hammock for a break at the base of Jacobs Ladder. I’m a fairly consistent weekend hiker ( not a runner) and it took me 4 hours and 18 minutes including my break. Had my chihuahua with me, too.

Other than the first half mile which is on a gravel road this is a great hike with several vistas. I only did 4 miles out and back since the wind was blowing 25 to 30 miles an hour but it was still a nice hike.

Great trail run to work on elevation training! Can be a challenging run at times. Views from the top are pretty nice. Continue on to Jacobs latter trail and get onto poverty creek to extend your run/hike.

A fun loop trail that isn't too strenuous. Make sure to explore Mountain Lake and the little museum they have for when Dirty Dancing was filmed there! Another note, no matter how nice it is out, it is always SO WINDY at bald knob so be prepared with a wind breaker or gloves and a well secured hat even on a nice spring or fall day!

It was so good to get out and hike on Gateway Trail, Easter Sunday afternoon. If like a good elevation climb, and only have an hour and a half, Gateway is a great up and back trail that will get your heart pumping .

2 months ago

loved this trail, I've hiked it twice. great views and an easy trail

Really fun, not that hard.

Great hike!! Good views!!

Forgot to add! Make sure you do bald knob while your there. Short hike with great views but very very steep and rough terrain

Good hike!! Had a few nice views!! Had a couple steep long hikes. Some trees down that blocked some of the markers butt all and all it was cool to get off track a little and explore. Entrance was a little hard to find but we got there.

My dog and I did this trail 2 days ago. great hike! Very scenic! We took Lewis fork and wow did I under estimate the trail, it's pretty tough. I enjoyed every step though. I will definitely visit the surrounding trails! the horses are so cool. they were on the trail and refused to move so we scooted past and pet them on the way past!

3 months ago

Completed the hike 2/20/18 to bag the state high peak. The lush, mossy forest made for neat scenery but also made for a wet and rocky trail. Majority of the trail, as well as the summit, is in the trees which leads to a fairly underwhelming view, but none the less an enjoyable hike with some scenic views here and there. Wish the ponies were out! Trail is longer than the 10.8 mi posted, RT from the trailhead is 12.6 miles. Glad to have VA's tallest peak in the bag!

amazing views, wild ponies, doesn't get much better in the south east

4 months ago

This is probably my favorite hike on the east coast. We did this over a cold winter weekend. The wind was fierce atop the mountain, but the views were breaktaking. The wild ponies were definitely the highlight of the trip. Be careful and pay attention to the route - we ended up getting lost more than once. I reviewed the trail in great detail here for thoes who want to check it out before making the journey! https://adventuresinroamance.com/backpacking-in-the-south/

It’s just 3.4 miles if you hike up to the top and back down without going on other trails. Easy and quick hike in Blacksburg, VA.

As a Randolph College student in Lynchburg, this is one of my favorite places to go when I need some time outside. I've put my hammock up along this trail before as well. Beautiful views along the bridge as well as the trail. Not very strenuous at all and trail is relatively clear of rocks and debris. Would recommend!

Recommend especially during the winter months when the foliage is down. Lots of views of surrounding peaks and views looking down on the James River that would likely be limited when the trees have all their leaves. A number of feeder trails cross the AT here so pay attention at these intersections so you don't end up like yours truly and get off track :)

5 months ago

Hiked this with my sister who doesn’t have much experience. Very easy hiking, well marked campsites and trails. Great view of the Blue Mountains and lots of ponies. Highly recommend for people who don’t hike a lot but want to get there feet dirty.

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