Two hours and ten minutes to the top on a sunny late afternoon. The dirt road on the final push to the summit was steep enough to make me take rest breaks but the sketchy tower can still support a large man safely. An hour and forty minutes back down.
Lived in Buffalo Gap as a kid....hiked it many times!
My climbing buddy and I hit this on what was probably the only winter day of 2011/12 in Virginia.
It was cloudy and in the 30's when we set out from the Falls Hollow Trail. There was a light snow cover above 2000' and we got a half inch early on as we hiked the first stretch along the stream.
The last haul up the gravel access road can be rough. In true winter conditions, I'd reccomend crampons and axe. A slip on that gravel road when snow covered can send you quite a ways back down!
Once we broke the ridgeline, we felt the wind. We could hear the wind howling over our heads from the rhododenrons onward, but this was the first time we felt it. At the summit, it was 20*F with winds 30 gusting 50+. It was a little taste of what it's like on bigger mountains.
I also did this alone as an overnight backpack March 31-April 1. This time I took the northern approach from Dry Branch Gap. This trail switches back across three finger ridges with moss-covered rockfall areas on the inside apexes of the ridges. The trail then levels out as it traverses the ridge southwards to the summit. You still have to hump it up the gravel access road, but only for a couple hundred yards.
Awesome views from the summit. It's worth the trip, especially in winter where you may just have the entire mountain to yourself.
Only saw two other parties on this gorgeous Sunday. The fence around the tower has been peeled back in a spot. Was able to ascend for great views.