Beautiful (Free) Locations to Hike in the VA Mountains

—Harrison Kostoff, Web Editor—

Living around the Chesterfield/Midlothian area can be quite a bore at times. Sometimes it seems like there’s just not much to do other than go to the movies or perhaps go humpback1bowling for the hundredth time. Well if you have a car, or a friend with one, say goodbye to that boredom! There’s a bunch of places within our state that don’t take that long to visit at all. In fact you can go to most of these locations, explore them, and go back home all in one day. I personally have visited all these locations and I have actually traveled to two of these places (Humpback Rock & Crabtree Falls) in one day and still made it home at the end of the day. One of the best things about all these locations (except Crabtree Falls) is that they are completely free to visit. If you’re into working out or just a tree-hugging nature-lover, going on a trip to any of these gorgeous locations will make your day exciting as well as provide you with a serene view.

  1. Humpback Rock

With a 2 mile loop trail that ascends 740 feet to the peak, Humpback Rock is the perfect humpback2location to go on a day trip with some friends or family. Once parked at the bottom of the trail hikers follow a dirt pathway that goes by some very old historical structures from when the area was first populated. Eventually hikers will work their way up to the actual trail Humpback Rock provides. The hike is very intimidating at first, but once one starts climbing they’ll find that the effort is worth it. The trail itself is normally full of families and other hikers finding their way up and down the rocky path, however the trail is wide and provides more than enough space for everyone. At the top it’s a different story, people are spread out all over the auditorium sized rock enjoying the view and indulging themselves in whatever packed lunch they brought. Sitting on Humpback Rock and looking out into the rolling Appalachian Mountains is dazzling, however the best way to enjoy the view is with a camera. On my trip to Humpback Rock I carried a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT and took some really formidable photos.

  1. Crabtree Falls

Crabtree Falls is a cascade type waterfall with a 3 mile trail (only 1.8 miles to the top), and is renowned in the United States as one of the highest-reaching sets of waterfalls to the east of the Mississippi River (a total height of 1,200 feet). Crabtree Falls in total has 5 crabtree1drops, and the longest drop falls 400 feet. Unlike Humpback Rock, Crabtree Falls has a winding trail that is just as spectacular as the view it provides at the top. There’s multiple overlooks that are perched along the trail and as you climb higher and higher on the trail those overlooks become more and more out of this world.

Even though Crabtree Falls is a personal favorite of mine, it is responsible for taking the lives of a recorded 29 people that fell to their deaths off of the extremely slippery rocks. So if you want to hike there either alone or with others, please be sure to stay on the marked trail and keep an eye on those with you, especially younger children. It’s a very depressing tragedy when someone loses their life on what should be a harmless hiking trip.

  1. Devil’s Marbleyard

Devil’s Marbleyard is named so spookily for good reason; chunks of marble, some the devil2size of chairs and others the size of busses, cover the side of a mountain creating this multi-football field sized rock field. Once hikers finish making their way up the trail that leads to the lip of the Marbleyard they might want to take a break and put some gloves on. The Marbleyard is less of a trail and more of a rockslide that you can climb on, this means there’s a lot of upper body strength required and if hikers don’t have gloves they might have a hard time not hurting their hands on the edges of the marble.

Down towards the bottom of the trail that leads hikers to the marbleyard lies a couple campsites that are free for anyone to inhabit. That being said Devil’s Marbleyard doesn’t just have to be a day trip. In fact once some friends and I all went on a camping trip we had planned without any parents’ help. It’s super easy to get together with some friends and gather supplies like tents, food, and fire building supplies and set a date to go!devil1

Hopefully now you’ll be inspired to go out and visit one, or all, of these spectacular locations that are all 3-5 hours away minimum. Going hiking at any of these places is a great way to relieve stress and just enjoy the Appalachian Mountains that no one gets to appreciate back home.