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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.

Distance: 9.2 miles Elevation Gain: 2,427 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

fee

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/

hiking
off trail
over grown
scramble
1 month ago

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.

off trail
over grown
1 month ago

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.

1 month ago

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.

backpacking
2 months ago

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.

backpacking
off trail
over grown
scramble
2 months ago

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.

hiking
3 months ago

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 !!

Brutal hike to an overview near the towers. Oversees all of Roanoke.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago