I am very lucky to live in an area with numerous A.T. trailheads. One of the most convenient to me is the VA-601 crossing. At that trailhead, a vast majority of recreational hikers will travel northbound to take in the views at Kelly’s Knob. But, I also recommend traveling southbound. Going down to VA-632 and back is a 4 mile round trip that you can fit in after work or even a weekend day before other obligations. On the down side, this does mean you can hike and still have ample time to do household chores.
This section may not have the overlook that Kelly’s Knob has, but it is beautiful in its own right. The rocky trail is lined with moss and ferns and when the time is right– blooming mayapples and azaleas. As far as exercise goes, your legs get more of a climb than they would to Kelly’s Knob. VA-632 to VA-601 has an elevation gain of 1184 feet, whereas Kelly’s Knob is only 478 feet higher than VA-601 (though that first hill makes it feel a heck of a lot worse!).
Know what else Rocky Gap has? Baby American Chestnut trees!
(Even though these trees will eventually succumb to the blight, if you hurt them then I’m going to go the Steve Sillett route and never ever pointing them out again.)
(Appalachian Trail from VA-601 to VA-632 and back)
Mileage: 4 miles round trip
Elevation Difference: 1184 feet
4WD Requirements: The last 1.5 miles of VA-601 is a gravel hill, but it is well maintained and I have seen non-4WD vehicles make it up.
Trailhead Parking: The VA-601 trailhead has a small parking area to the left. On busy days, cars park on the side of the gravel road.
Along the way, you’ll pass by Sinking Creek Bridge, a covered bridge built in 1916.