Tower Overlook is a 9.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Salem, Virginia that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length9.2 miElevation gain2,427 ftRoute typeOut & back
BackpackingCampingHikingNature tripsBird watchingRunningDog friendlyForestRiverViewsWildflowersWildlifeRockyScrambleFee
Waypoints (0)
Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (28)
Photos (66)
Activities (18)
Completed (30)
View user's profile page
Megan Kern
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 4, 2021
HikingGreat!Rocky

Beautiful hike! The water crossing is deep, ended up choosing a log to crossover, First few miles was uphill and definitely a good work out. Once at the top of ridge line it looks as if you could go two ways we choose left, come to a fire road that led us to the gravel road which brings you to the tower. Never saw anyone else on the trail, well worth it!

View user's profile page
Jason Overstreet
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 2, 2021
Hiking
View Jason's activity
View user's profile page
Levi J.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarDecember 3, 2020
Hiking

Ever wonder "why arent there more trails with a straight shot to the summit"? This trail answers that question.

View Levi's activity
View user's profile page
Lexie Basiliere
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 14, 2020
Hiking

You need to cross a river to get to the trailhead, I didn't find an obvious way to get across dry so ended up hiking with wet shoes. The incline is very steep rock scramble at mile 2-3ish. Not a bad view at the top but obstructed by many trees.

View Lexie's activity
View user's profile page
Oatmeal Ridgewalker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 8, 2020
HikingGreat!

I have to say, this trail is WAY underrated. I loved it! Every second. I don't know, it might have just been the perfect storm of greatness. Last minute day off, picked the trail for its length and went for it. Perfect autumn, sunny day. Foliage was amazing. Still lots of green with reds and yellows and peaches dabbled throughout. This trail is a workout. But, it allows a good warmup before the radical elevation gain. The first mile is a steady, balanced up hill that gets your legs ready for 1,500' vertical in a mile span. It's broken up by 3 short plateaus that really give your legs a small break. Then, beautiful ridge walking. You have Catawba and McAfee behind you the whole time and you can see snippets of them as you climb. I'd imagine it would be quite a sight in a few more weeks. Just knowing they were there gave me such glorious motivation. The best part, besides the foliage, was the trail itself. It wound all around, back and forth, twisting and turning. But, not in a way that you could just see the straight shot and it seems stupid to go back and forth. You go all around thick tree groupings and rhodies. It was just so fun. Would be a great trail run, if you can make quick decisions. If only they would build a public platform at the top. That would be amazing. It would only have to be 10' tall and you'd have a 360 view. Let's start a "go fund me". Fantastic trail. Be warned that the descent is tricky. Take your time and watch your footing.

View user's profile page
Oatmeal Ridgewalker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 8, 2020
Hiking
View Oatmeal's activity
View user's profile page
Garrett Kemmerly
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 11, 2020
HikingBugsRockyScramble

It is very steep to start. Three climbs that had more elevation gain than horizontal distance travelled and bad footing. The top is a nice trail. Single file and kind of overgrown, but not difficult to follow. The end had a decent view, but honestly my least favorite view so far. The brush just wasn't cut back enoigh. I also had a crazy amount of chiggers when I got back.

View user's profile page
Anna Heelan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 4, 2020
HikingOver grownRockyScramble

This hike was a great workout but not really any great views. Be careful heading downhill as it gets very steep! There is a small stream to cross at the beginning/end! Bring lots of water!!

View user's profile page
Brad Kesling
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 1, 2020
HikingOver grown
View Brad's activity
View user's profile page
Tony Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 2, 2020
Hiking

It’s all about that climb! Steep climb (and decent since it’s an out and back hike). Really enjoyed the climb, make sure your shoes are tight before the walk back down or your toes will pay the price haha.

View Tony's activity
View user's profile page
Burks Chisom
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 9, 2020
HikingOver grownScramble

The first part of the trail is pretty brutal, don’t let the stream and .25 miles at the start fool you. After crossing the stream and winding through the woods a little ways, the first of 3 very steep inclines appears, poles or walking stick highly recommended. Once at the top of the mountain, choose the trail to the left where you will then head through the woods, which at times it can be very difficult to find the path as it is quite overgrown. Once through the woods, there is an old fire road that will take you eventually to the gravel road that leads to the top. At the top, you can expect to see views of downtown Roanoke, macafees knob, and Salem. Coming back is a lot quicker, however, beware of the steep decline, the rocks and leaves make it quite slippery. Was it worth it? I’d say so and will probably do again sometime soon once my legs recover. Make sure to stretch and bring plenty of water, this hike will take a toll on your Achilles and calves. Big plus that there is literally no one on it, especially in times of covid-19. Hope everyone’s families are staying safe during this unprecedented time.

View Burks's activity
View user's profile page
Mani M
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 28, 2020
Hiking

Trail from poor mountain road ground level to towers. walk in the dirt road and not crowded. Great for Mountain bikers.

View user's profile page
John Wang
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMarch 8, 2020
HikingOver grown

The best views on the hike are near the summit. You can find an outcrop of rocks to the northeast of the round radio/radar structure. From there, you can see from McAfee all the way to Salem. Otherwise, the ridge walk and views of the drainage on the way up can provide nice foliage during the fall and of the valley in the winter. This hike has probably the steepest non-scrambling section I’ve encountered in all of Virginia. From the Angeline trailhead, the Elevator Trail has 3 pitches of maximum 45% incline. This is made more difficult by lose dirt or downed leaves. The trail clearly serves as a runoff for water during and after days of rain, possibly making this more difficult. It is not technical, however, as it is straightforward without any climbing or scrambling elements. The technical aspect of this hike is the navigation skills needed for when the trail is overgrown once you are on the ridge and hiking the Cornstalk trail. There are no markers, so GPS is recommended. For my full trip report, see: https://travel2walk.com/2020/03/11/virginia-hikes-fort-lewis-mountain-tower-outlook-via-angeline-trailhead-march-8-2020/

View John's activity
View user's profile page
Melissa Hagen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 20, 2020
HikingOff trailOver grownScramble

Intense, with an “ok” view payoff. For those who want to take a longer, less steep route, there is a trail about 2-3 miles past the Angeline (or “Elevator”) trailhead. It’s known as “Big Bad Wolf” trail and is mainly used for biking. The head is unmarked and parking is a small gravel pull-off next to the creek. There are three bridgeless water crossings, but several switchbacks can give your legs a reprieve when it comes to the 1,200-plus 2-mile climb. I’ve done Angeline once before, and those 80% grades are personally not something I’d like to revisit. I definitely preferred going up BBW. Once you’ve ascended BBW, you get to the fire road. You can take this all the way up to the overlook. Another option is the Cornstalk trail which dissects from the fire road a ways from BBW. If you take Cornstalk, have your gps on hand. The path is overgrown and you’ll inevitably get off trail several times. If you bypass Angeline and take Big Bad Wolf, the distance is about 14 miles, out and back. Again—longer, but not as steep. The view at the Tower is pretty decent. You get to see Roanoke and Salem. It’s also nice because you’ll more than likely have the trail to yourself (we didn’t see anyone; I suspect not a lot of people venture up there). Yet besides the fire road, the trails are unmarked, overgrown, and/or require navigation. It was definitely one for the books, but I doubt I’ll do it again anytime soon.

View user's profile page
Seth Peters
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 10, 2020
Off trailOver grown

Great view at the end- I would even say it's worth it. However, there are a ton of cons. We went after it had rained for several days before, and the stream you had to cross before starting the hike was high enough that we had to take off our boots and roll up our pants to cross (water level was around 2.5 feet high). The first 2 miles are straight uphill. That may not sound absolutely horrible, but I'm serious when I say it easily makes it the most difficult hike in the Roanoke-Blacksburg area. It's absolutely grueling. Worse than both of those, however, is that we lost the trail no less than 10 times due to the trail being extremely overgrown through much of the second half (in addition to it being an unmarked trail to begin with). Without the recorded routes on this app we may not have found our way back to the trail, ever. I will probably attempt this one again, but I would not recommend anyone else do it unless you already have before- it's just plain dangerous due to the lack of trail maintenance.

View user's profile page
Timothy Thornhill
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 3, 2020

brutal hike up to and down from ridge then fairly easy along ridge then trail becomes fire road to the towers at end. fantastic views in every direction, explore around the top, better views there then going down second road to the right. probable easier way up if you can follow fire road from below on the Salem side of mountain.

View user's profile page
Sophia Perrin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 5, 2020
Backpacking

Terribly brutal hike for the first mile and a half. If you've ever hiked Tinkers Cliff, these inclines put those to shame. No pictures and truly show the sheer steepness of the climb. All that said, the view easily second to none besides possibly Mill Mountain Star. But up here you're guaranteed to have the view all to yourself.

View user's profile page
Rosemary Theresa
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 29, 2019
BackpackingOff trailOver grownScramble

Very challenging climb onto a ridge, followed by overgrown ridge walk, leading to one of the best views of all of Roanoke and Salem I've ever seen. initial mile and a quarter has extremely steep sections, I sometimes had to use hands to help get me up and maxed out my heart rate for most of it full. Steepest hike I've seen near Roanoke. The extremely steep sections would be very dangerous in very rainy conditions, the trail would turn to a rivlet. After that, walking the ridge was very nice but had no trail for parts. The trail was quite overgrown, we had to use the app to redirect us. After a few miles on the ridge, you get on to what looks like a fire service road. you then get to a gravel road, take a left walk up to the top for the view. There's a weird science experiment / weather station looking thing a little ways off from the main tower. View is absolutely stunning at night. Roanoke Star, Wells Fargo building, all of Salem too. View is superior to McAfee's.

View user's profile page
phil rice
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 25, 2019
Hiking

Dog friendly for sure ! Tough first 2 miles as it heads pretty much straight up which makes for a very steep decent on the final two miles as well. The ridge walking is beautiful but the trail is not marked so be prepared to navigate and have a little fun in the process . The views from the Towers are amazing and well worth the work to get there. Enjoy !!

View phil's activity
Showing results 1 - 19 of 28