Flat Top Mountain is the highest of the three major peaks in the Peaks of Otter Recreation Area along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Its nearby neighbor peak, Sharp Top, was once believed to be the highest mountain in Virginia, but is actually much the shorter of the two. However, Sharp Top is a more exposed summit and it does have the illusion of being higher.
Flat Top's name also belies the extreme topography of the peak, and from certian angles it is every bit as "sharp" as its aptly named sister peak. It is not hard to understand how Flat Top, Sharp Top, and Harkening Hill became major tourist attractions during the early history of the USA. Rising well over 1,600 feet above the gap at its feet, Flat Top offers daunting slopes on which to hike and climb.
The trailhead to the summit of Flat Top can be reached either at one terminus at the dam on the Abbott Lake Trail (behind the Peaks of Otter Lodge at milepost 86), or at the Flat Top Parking Area near milepost 83 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
No red tape.
When To Climb
All year. Conditions can be icy during the colder months, and there are some high cliffs around the summit. Care should be taken under icy conditions.
CampingThere is an official campground across the road (43) from the Peaks of Otter Lodge. However, it is closed from November through March. I know of no prohibition on camping either in Jefferson National Forest, or within the Peaks of Otter Recreation Area.
Mountain ConditionsCheck the weather for Bedford, Virginia. Subtract five to ten degrees for the higher ridges. Check the road conditions at the Blue Ridge Parkway site here.
- Peaks of Otter Lodge.
Official website run by the concessionaire who opeartes the Peaks of Otter Lodge for the National Park Service. Good information about the area.