Johnson Farm & Harkening Hill Trail

MODERATE 37 reviews
#25 of 47 trails in

Johnson Farm & Harkening Hill Trail is a 3.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Bedford, Virginia that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

3.5 miles
921 feet

dogs on leash

kid friendly



nature trips

trail running




wild flowers


A nice, often-forgotten or ignored trail at the Peaks of Otter. Not as steep or rocky as the other 2 peaks. Johnson Farm Loop portion is more traveled than the Harkening Hill part. Experienced hikers/trail runners might rate this as moderate; others would probably say it's demanding. Trail starts from the Visitor's Center on the Parkway at the Peaks of Otter, running parallel to the Pkwy for 0.3 mi. Take the second left (which takes you through a long field) to then enter the woods to go up to the Johnson Farm. Continue up from the farm and then turn right at the trail intersection to go up to the summit of Harkening Hill. Shortly before the summit, there will be a short spur to the left to Balance Rock, which is neat to see. There is not much of a view at the summit except when the leaves are off the trees, and even then, it's not as spectacular as Sharp Top or Flat Top, which is why this is often the "forgotten 3rd peak" of the Peaks of Otter. However, the trail is not nearly as rocky as the other peaks and not as steep. It is an excellent trail for trail running. The Johnson Farm Loop portion usually has a lot more visitors than the H.H. portion. The "light usage" rating is for the H.H. part, even during the more popular months. If the Johnson Farm is open, be sure to stop in and see it and sign the guest book.

17 days ago

Great for a relaxing day. The .7 to the summit is legitimate the rest is very easy. Good for first timers and beginners

24 days ago

Moderate trail, great for a relaxing trail walk.

2 months ago

my first hike in years. we started at amphitheater and went up.. backwards from the way this was done. it rained and got pretty cold. trail was easily to follow. loved the big rocks all over. balance rock was cool too! felt accomplished as a beginner.

2 months ago

The trail the woods are well kept

3 months ago

Great hike - markings could use some improvement.

5 months ago

Nice Easy hike. No spectacular view- but it is a convenient loop.

6 months ago

This was a great trail to do with the whole family. We went to Balancing Rock and Harkening Hill and then back down to the Johnson Farm. Can be a little challenging in spots when going up to Harkening Hill if you are not used to the elevation gain changes. Make sure you have plenty of water and an inhaler if you require it, so glad we had my son's with us...he needed it several times. We really enjoyed the trip!

6 months ago

I love this trail because I've been able to carry even my 22 month old grandson along. The Johnson farm trail is perfect for family hiking.

8 months ago

This was easy enough to carry a toddler and hard enough that it still felt like a workout. I love going to the farm and learn new tidbits everytime

9 months ago

Awesome and great hike any time of year!

10 months ago

Easy hiking! Doesn't have the best Summit, but it's a great loops hike for all ages.

11 months ago

Nice trial. Relatively easy hike for adults and children alike. If you have younger children, be aware that there are some narrow parts of the trail that have steep drop offs. My six year old wanted to hold my hand out of fear on those parts.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

I hiked the two mile Johnson Farm Loop, skipping the Harkening Hill section (for now). It is a pretty and well maintained trail, and it gave me a chance to catch my breath after just completing Sharp Top. I enjoyed seeing and reading about the history of the farm.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Solid walk in the woods accessible from Peaks of Otto Lodge. There are many get views, but it's a relatively easy hike. Farm house is an interesting diversion, as is the balancing rocks towards the top of the loop.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Great trail, easy to follow, but the views are not all that much! Would rather do this trail in fall!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The trail head is located at MP 86 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We parked at the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center and hiked the Johnson Farm Trail (2.1 mile loop)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

meh. Kind of a waste of time. The farmhouse looked OK. The hike was just a walk in the woods. Near peaks of Oteer, though, which is one of my fav places

Thursday, July 10, 2014

nice little hike after lunch, then a little education for the kids about the people who owned the land and built the hotel "the Johnsons". guided tour of the ole' home place on the week ends.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Nice hike with great views a long the way. Trails are well marked and not too rocky. Well worth the effort.

trail running
Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ran/hiked this trail today on a perfect day! This is the most runnable of the three peaks at the Peaks of Otter. You climb enough to get in a good workout but it is never as steep as Sharp Top or Flat Top, so you can run more of the ascent. Also, it is not nearly as rocky and the descent is much easier to run because of that. We took the side trip to Balance Rock, which is always fun. The girls I went with had never been on this trail before and they said it is going to become one of their favorites from now on. I rated it 4 stars instead of 5 because it really does not have the fantastic view of Sharp or Flat Top. In the fall/winter/early spring you can see a little bit more at the summit because the leaves are off the trees. However, I don't do this run for the view.

If you run it and the Johnson Farm happens to be open, take a moment and go inside because it is very cool to see. They have a guestbook you can sign. The Johnson Farm part of the trail is more well-traveled during tourist season, but there are really not that many people. I have only seen other people on Harkening Hill once during all my runs there, and that happened to be today. You will exit the trail at the amphitheater behind the visitors' center.

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