ApproachThis trail originates at the campstore across the Parkway from the Visitor Center at milepost 86 of the Blue Ridge Parkway.. This trail is very steep and quite strenuous. Good health is a requisite for hiking this route. Be sure to carry plenty of drinking water, especially in warm weather, as there is no water available along the trail or at the summit.. Length is 1.5 miles, with an elevation gain of 1,400 feet from the trailhead to the peak.
The peak offers a 360 degree view from a number of the high boulders which tower over the summit. There are some subpeaks which are also interesting and a spur trail leads to one of these, The Buzzard's Roost, which stands about a third of a mile from the high point.
For those not wishing to hike to the top, there is a bus service from the Peaks of Otter Lodge which runs up a road to the top. (The bus does not run during the winter months.) Check with the Peaks of Otter Lodge for fares. There are round trip and one-way fares.
Route DescriptionFrom the camp store, the trail begins to climb fairly steadily, but not too steeply for about a fourth of a mile. Once you cross the bus road, the trail begins to climb much more steeply and also begins to encounter a fair amount of exposed rock.
At about the half-mile point, you will begin to see some false summits and some pretty impressive stone walls as you proceed. At one mile, you will see Buzzard's Roost looming off to the right, and you may mistake it for the summit of Sharp Top. Achieving the main ridgeline at 1.3 miles, you will see a spur trail that leads off to Buzzard's Roost.
Either hike down that trail for about 600 feet to the subpeak, or cotinue on for another quarter of a mile to the true summit. (Add about thirty minutes to your itinerary if you decide to check out the Roost.) There is a paved pathway that leads down to the bus shelter at the end of the bus road. Ignore that path and continue on past the summit house (built for when the peak was a fire lookout), and walk to stone and mortar walls where you can climb the boulders at the summit for some truly remarkable views.