Posts filed under ‘Peaks of Otter’

Roanoke Outdoor and Social Club Hiker Challenge – Advanced Hiker

On Saturday, James I. and I ascended Flat Top at Peaks of Otter. That was the last hike I needed to complete the Roanoke Outdoor and Social Club’s Advanced Hiker category in their Hiker Challenge.  They have challenged their members to do specific area hikes and submit photographs of themselves at the top.  If the Hiker Challenge page is up to date, then I’m the second hiker and the first female to finish that category! : )

Advanced Hiker:

Vicky Dogs Top Dragon’s Tooth
View in Summer McAfee’s Knob
Tinker Cliffs - Vicky Tinker Cliffs
Flat Top - Vicky with Sharp Top Flat Top
Vicky and James Sharp Top
Kelly's Knob 2006 - Vicky At Top Kelly’s Knob
Vicky, Henry, Jimmie Angel’s Rest
Carvin Cove / Hay Rock Overlook

For more information on the Hiker Challenge, check out the Roanoke Outdoor and Social Club.

April 26, 2009 at 10:18 pm 3 comments

Season Compare: Sharp Top

This season compare comes courtesy of Andrew Reams (aka “The Camera”). It’s of Sharp Top Mountain off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Peaks of Otter.

Sharp Top Mountain always amuses me because it was once believed to be the tallest mountain in Virginia. In fact, a stone from Sharp Top Mountain was inscribed and included at the top of the Washington Monument because it was thought to be “Virginia’s Loftiest Peak“. It turns out, Sharp Top isn’t the tallest mountain in Virginia. It isn’t even taller than the mountain RIGHT NEXT TO IT!


Even if it isn’t the tallest mountain in Virginia, Sharp Top is definitely a beautiful mountain and an absolutely gorgeous and rigorous hike. Gorgeous + Rigorous = Fulfilling.

And with that, here is Sharp Top on March 16, 2008 and then Sharp Top again on June 18, 2008.

Sharp Top on March 16, 2008 (Photo by The Camera)

Sharp Top on June 18, 2008 (Photo by The Camera)

September 10, 2008 at 8:00 am 2 comments

Petites Gap to Cornelius Creek Shelter – Wildflower Row

On Saturday, I joined a group of six other hikers (mostly from the Charlottesville/Potomac Appalachian Trail Club area) for a hike along the Appalachian Trail. We started at Petites Gap which is Mile Post 71 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We hiked about 7.3 miles on the AT, then we went 1 mile down Apple Orchard Falls Trail to Apple Orchard Falls. From there, we backtracked 0.5 miles up Apple Orchard Falls Trail. Next we cut across Apple Orchard Road 1 mile to Cornelius Creek Trail. We ascended 0.6 miles to get back to the AT. Finally, we hiked 1.6 miles down the AT to the Cornelius Creek Shelter. We ended back up at the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Post 80.5.

This section of trail had it all– views, waterfalls, wildflowers. It offered so much, it felt like 4-5 different hikes combined into one. Some many features of this section are described below:

View of Devil’s Marbleyard
As we ascended through Thunder Ridge Wilderness, we pass a rock outcropping with a views of Devil’s Marbleyard. It’s quite a different perspective than Mike E and I had a few weeks ago at the Marbleyard.

Devil's Marbleyard
Devil’s Marbleyard from Thunder Ridge Wilderness

Thunder Ridge Overlook
Also accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, we passed by an overlook near the high point of Thunder Ridge.

View From Thunder Ridge Overlook
View from Thunder Ridge Overlook

The Guillotine
As we neared the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain, we passed under a boulder balancing precariously above the trail.

The Guillotine
Ken, with remarkable faith, sits on top of the Guillotine with the Appalachian Trail below

Apple Orchard Summit
Our passage took us to the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain. At 4225 feet, this is the highest point the trail reaches in some time. Northbound hikers would have go to 1000 miles to New Hampshire to reach a higher elevation. Meanwhile Southbound hikers would need to go 600 miles.

Summit sign at Apple Orchard Mountain

Ridges At Apple Orchard Summit
View from summit of Apple Orchard Mountain

Apple Orchard Mountain was named for the trees at the top. They are not apple trees, rather they are red oaks that have been twisted and deformed by wind and ice. To the locals, the trees appeared to be a deserted orchard. Thus the name.

Namesake of Apple Orchard Mountain
Namesake of Apple Orchard Mountain

The summit sports more than trees and great views. An FAA air traffic radar tower is present up there as well.

FAA Radar Tower
FAA Radar Tower at top of Apple Orchard Mountain

Apple Orchard Falls
Our side trek took us to beautiful 150-foot Apple Orchard Falls.

Apple Orchard Falls
Apple Orchard Falls

Black Rock Overlook
One of our final stops of the journey was Black Rock Overlook which provides outstanding views, including Peaks of Otter to the left.

Ridges from Black Rock
Layers of ridges visible from Black Rock

Peaks of Otter (Flat Top) from Black Rock

Last, but not least, our hike provided us with a steady stream of wildflower viewing opportunities. The Appalachian Trail Guide to Central Virginia describes this section well.

This area is famous for its spring flowers– acres of large flowered trillium, being crowded by mayapple, as well as a showing of bloodroot, showy orchids, large-flowered bellwort, mountain lily-of-the-valley, blue cohosh, and rattlesnake plantain (an orchid).

However, we met a thru hiker named Biker Barb who improved upon the guidebook’s description.

It is like walking through a botanical garden.

Biker Barb was right. Our journey provided such a variety and high quality of specimens, it very well could have been a botanical garden.

To Be Identified — Chickweed?

Mayapple which has a single stealth bloom underneath a broad leaf canopy

Jack in the Pulpit
Jack in the Pulpit

Two of the thousands of trilliums on the trail

Pink Lady Slipper Orchids
Pink Lady Slipper Orchids

To Be Identified – Spiderwort?


Mountain Laurel
Mountain Laurel

It was a wonderful and fulfilling journey. Many thanks to Jere Bidwell for organizing this trip and inviting me!!!

Additional Links
Many, many more pictures on Flickr
Kevin Myatt’s article on Apple Orchard Falls for the Roanoke Times
Thunder Ridge Wilderness Area

May 20, 2007 at 10:52 pm 11 comments

Sharp Top and The Sweet Escape

In the privacy of my own journals, I’ve had some harsh words about Gwen Stefani’s solo career.  I’m a bit too lazy to look up the exact passages, but I believe I used words such as “drivel” and “trash” to describe what I perceived to be a marked decline from her No Doubt work. 

Welp, it seems that I have already changed my mind!  I’m sooo into that The Sweet Escape song.  It instantly puts me in a good mood and is a wonderful soundtrack as I travel to trailheads for an adventure.  I’m especially fond of singing along to the high-pitched “Wooo–hooo, wooooo-hoooooo!” parts, though don’t bank on catching me doing that at work.  That only occurs when I’m driving alone or with the dogs (I’ll also make an exception for Carolyn.  That’s the  type of relationship I have with my sister– I can sing offkey as loud as I want without forfeiting her love).  Given the amount of enjoyment I’ve gotten from The Sweet Escape, I’m glad my strong opinions were limited to my journals. 

As I mentioned, yesterday I hiked Sharp Top at the Peaks of Otter.  Here’s another tidbit about that mountain.  It was once believed to be the tallest mountain in Virginia.  It turns out that is far from the truth– Mount Rogers is 1,864 feet higher.  Not only that, but Sharp Top isn’t even the tallest mountain in the Peaks of Otter.  The mountain right beside it, Flat Top, is taller!  I’ve often found amusement at that misconception, even though I could easily fall for the same optical illusion.  Sharp Top with its pointy peak does appear to be taller:

Flat Top on the left is 4001′, while Sharp Top on the right is only 3865′

Unlike my Gwen Stefani rants, the thought that Sharp Top was Virginia’s tallest mountain was not confined to local lore or private journals.  Nope!  That mistake was recorded in stone… literally!  In 1851, a stone from the summit of Sharp Top Mountain was used in the construction of the Washington Monument.  It was engraved as follows:

From Otter’s Summit, Virginia’s Loftiest Peak, To Crown a Monument to Virginia’s Noblest Son

When it comes to documenting mistakes, I find journals preferable to the Washington Monument.  In fact, I’m going to make it my lifetime goal to keep my mistakes off the Washington Monument.  I would say all monuments in general, but I had a vivid memory as a small child disposing of a booger on the Lincoln Memorial… so that option is kinda unobtainable.  I got to stick with what’s feasible. 

Journals – yes.  Washington Monument – no.  Lincoln Memorial…maybe.

March 12, 2007 at 12:01 am 9 comments

Apple Orchard Falls… er… Sharp Top!

Yesterday, the closest CCS has to a CCS Hiking Club went out for an outing.  James Ingerson and I met at CCS and embarked on a trip to Apple Orchard Falls.  There was only one problem:

D’oh.  Closed Road

The Blueridge Parkway was closed north of Peaks of Otter.  Luckily, we just happened to be in the vicinity of a number of great hikes.  We decided to head up to Sharp Top instead.  Sharp Top is a short hike (1.5 miles one way), but it has a lot to offer.  It has a solid incline.  You ascend ~1340 feet in 1.5 miles.  When the going gets rough, I think about Thomas Jefferson  He ascended Sharp Top in 1815…when he was 72 years old!  If he could do it, I suppose I can suck it up.  🙂 Sharp Top sports a number of view opportunies including the summit with a 360 degree view and Buzzard’s Roost.  Finally, if you are feeling adventurous, you can visit the wreckage of a 1941 plane crash (N 37° 25.665 W 079° 36.398).

Stacy, the dogs and I checked out the plane wreck and Buzzard’s Roost a few years ago.  Yesterday, James, the dogs and I went to the Sharp Top Summit.  Some shots from our outing:

Jimmie on rock stairs near the top.

James poses like a founding father at the top

More Pictures and Links
My Sharp Top Photos on my Flickr site
James’ Sharp Top Photos (scroll to the bottom)
B-25D Crash Information
Sharp Top Article from Roanoke Times

March 11, 2007 at 10:03 pm Leave a comment

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