After talking about it for a few months, today Mike E and I managed to finally get over to Barney’s Wall. We were accompanied by Sean and the dogs. Barney’s Wall is a big steep rock face. One hiker describes it as one of the “the region’s best-kept-secret stunning views.”
Although you can get to Barney’s Wall from the Cascades, it was my first choice to not go that route. The Cascades is always crowded (even in winter there are plenty of visitors). On a beautiful day like today, the Cascades Trail was about as appealing to me as a Saturday visit to Walmart.
Luckily, there is another route. You can get on the Nature Conservancy Trail from the dirt road that takes you to Butt Mountain Overlook (otherwise known as VA-714). The only problem– we didn’t quite know where the trailhead was. Information on the internet was frustratingly hard to come by and the only map we stumbled upon failed to inspire confidence– it incorrectly labeled VA-714 as VA-71! I had hiked a section of the Nature Conservacy Trail in 2003, but to get on it I, uh, sort of cut across private property. That wasn’t going to fly today. So many times, I’ve passed by trailheads that were obscured by neglect and vegetation. So when we all loaded into the XTerra in Blacksburg, I wasn’t entirely convinced we would find the trail.
Turned out to not be a problem. The trail is beaten enough to be easily visible from the road and a “Nature Conservancy Trail” sign eliminates any ambiguity. There are small pull-offs nearby for vehicles and oh, there is an orange rock (some local campers gave us that particular landmark).
Driving on VA-714 is no picnic and you definitely should take a 4WD vehicle. But the hike itself is quite simple– a quick (~15-20 minutes), gentle decline to the view.
The view took a backseat to something more interesting, though. There were some rappellers out taking advantage of the sheer drop. It looked scary and at the same time, extremely intriquing. Now I want to learn!
As usual, more pictures of our Barney’s Wall hike can be found on my Flickr site. If you are interested in taking the VA-714 route, Mike found some detailed directions (including coordinates) a good four hours after we got home.