On October 23, 2008 Roanoke County opened the Read Mountain Preserve to the public. The nearly 250-acre Preserve is located on the southern side of Read Mountain and features a 1.9 mile trail to a rocky overlook just below the summit called Buzzard Rocks. This trail is currently the only official one up the mountain and is designated with a blue blaze and several signs. Interestingly, there were other routes up the mountain prior to this trail, dating back to the Great Depression and the Civilian Conservation Corps. In fact, portions of these trails near the summit were used in the construction of the official trail.
The official trail was constructed by a variety of volunteers and is well maintained. Rock steps aid hikers with some of the steeper areas. There are several overlooks along the way up. The trailhead contains a map with the route and trail instructions. There are also several picnic tables and some grassy areas near the trailhead.
Interestingly, more than 190,000 people live within 10 miles of this mountain. It is also the 79th most prominent mountain in Virginia, with 1073 feet of prominence.
Getting ThereDirections from Downtown Roanoke
Take US 460 East towards Bonsack. Shortly before you reach the Bonsack Walmart, turn left onto Huntridge Road. Travel 1 mile to left on Crumpacker Road (Samuel Gate’s Subdivision). Look for park entrance on the right, just past Tolman Circle.
Directions from Interstate 81
Take the Troutville exit (150A) and turn onto US 220 South (Cloverdale Road). Travel 5.5 miles to a right onto Hillview Drive. After passing Cortland Road, take second right onto Crumpacker Road (Samuel Gate’s Subdivision). Look for park entrance on the right, just past Tolman Circle.
The Preserve is open from 6am to sundown. There is a gate leading into the parking area at the trail head, which is supposedly locked each night.
The Preserve property covers the southern side of Read Mountain, while the the northern side is primarily owned by private parties. Read Mountain Preserve has entered into an agreement with property owners to allow access to Buzzard Rocks, located on private property. The agreement states that hikers must stay on the trail.
The park closes at sunset, so camping is probably not allowed.
External LinksRoanoke County Website for Read Mountain Preserve
GPS Track of Main Trail
Roanoke Times article on Read Mountain Preserve
Pictures and description of trail construction
Article about the beginnings of Read Mountain Preserve