Southwestern Virginia has virtually countless hikes and seemingly more are revealed to me all the time. So, if you go to Virginia Tech and never hike, we won’t judge you... but you’re doing something wrong!
By Virginia Tech student Kyle Turnage "For Hokies, by Hokies" Summer Academy Blog 03/30/2017
I certainly am no elite hiker (in fact, I had never been on a hike before coming to Tech) so I make no claim these are the best hikes around, but they are some of the most common, good for people with any amount of hiking experience (or no hiking experience), and some of the most loved trails around.
The classic hike for all Hokies to do. This hike is so ridiculously simple that I often refer to it as more of a nature walk. It’s basically a rite of passage when attending Virginia Tech and almost everyone does it as their first hike here. It’s not a difficult trail at all and the view of the waterfall at the end is impressive. Great hike for beginners and a perfect display of Virginia’s natural beauty.
Please abide by the warning signs posted at the falls. You must never ever climb to the top of the falls! It is illegal and you will get fined. The rocks at the top are extremely slippery which you might not realize until it's too late. Additionly, do not swim at the falls as there are powerful currents at the base of the falls and underwater rock ledges and growth that could entangle you. There have been recent falls and drownings. The falls is a scenic location not intended to be a swimming hole or to be climbed. Learn more about Cascades Falls.
Parking Coordinates: 37.353604, -80.599435 Google Maps
Extremely short hike. Then what's so great about it? It’s only 30 minutes from campus, and it only takes about 10 minutes to reach the top. The ascent is pretty steep which makes it slightly difficult, but I’m not at all in shape and I managed! This is the perfect trail to end the evening after a long day of class. I went one day right at sunset and it was beautiful. Relaxing and fun. Learn more about Bald Knob.
Parking Coordinates: 37.355055, -80.538431 Google Maps
McAfee's Knob is an experience no Hokie can miss out on! This is pretty much a full day hike. About 8 miles in total. Then, of course, you’ll want to spend some time at the peak for a picnic or photos or simply to admire the view. I think the best thing I've seen at the peak was someone who brought cereal and milk, so they were able to sit right on the ledge and eat cereal as the sun rose. Learn more about McAfee's Knob.
Parking Coordinates: 37.380055, -80.089941 Google Maps
Then, to complete the McAfee’s Knob experience, on your way back to school, stop at the Homeplace. After hiking 8 miles, you’ll surely be starved. The Homeplace (number 5 activity on The Official Hokie Bucket List) is a family style all-you-can-eat southern comfort food restaurant. The perfect way to end a great day of hiking.
I did not discover Pandapas pond until my senior year, so I want to ensure you know about it now! It’s only 15 minutes from campus and has many different trails all interwoven so you can make the hike as long or as short as you want! And if you don’t feel like hiking, you can always just go and relax by the pond. Being so close to campus, this is another great place to visit after class. Learn more about Pandapas Pond.
Parking Coordinates: 37.283110, -80.469181 Google Maps
Now, when winter comes, it's often way too cold to do these hikes. You may find yourself asking, "How will I ever hike on all of these awesome trails in comfortable weather?" Well, there's a really great program offered by Virginia Tech called Summer Academy. This allows you to start classes in the summer before your first fall semester AND bonus: you get more time to check out the many hikes! For more information, visit the Summer Academy website.
Kyle Turnage, a contributor to the For Hokies, by Hokies Summer Academy blog, is a senior majoring in mathematics with a minor in physics and serves as an intern in the Office of Summer and Winter Sessions.
The views expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Virginia Tech or The Office of Summer and Winter Sessions.