Take a Hike!

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The 5 Best Day Hikes Near Downtown Roanoke

Virginia may be for lovers, but Roanoke is for hikers. With hundreds of miles of trails only minutes from downtown, you could pick a different trail every day for the next few months and hardly scratch the surface. If decision-making is as difficult for you as it is for us, though, that may sound more overwhelming than exciting….

Which is why we’ve done the work for you! So, dig out your hiking boots and start prepping your favorite trail mix. Below are our favorite local hikes—all within an hour’s drive of Gramercy Row.

1. Peaks of Otter

The poetically named Peaks of Otter are comprised of three main peaks, with a combined total of 12 miles of hiking trails. The Sharp Top trail is the most strenuous—and most popular—hike in the peaks. We highly suggest taking the spur trail to Buzzard’s Roost for more stunning outlooks, before heading up to the 360-degree view at the summit. Flat Top—the highest of the Peaks of Otter—is a slightly less strenuous hike than Sharp Top, but offers up delightful views of large rock formations and outcrops, and an ever-changing sampling of the area’s forest vegetation. Harkening Hill may be the lowest and least-visited peak of the Otters, but it would be a mistake to miss out on this highly underrated hike.

Distance from downtown Roanoke: 31 miles

2. Hoop Hole

With two loops to choose from, you can decide how strenuous you want your Hoop Hole trip to be. And you really can’t go wrong with either choice…. The scenic views of the more challenging, nine mile extended loop are incredible, but the four mile lower loop has just as many photogenic views of tumbling streams and swimming holes. And as Hoop Hole is a bit of a hidden gem, you’re more likely to avoid the crowds of the more popular hiking areas.

Distance from downtown Roanoke: 40 miles

3. Roaring Run Trail

Add a bit of history to your hike when you venture to Roaring Run. Not only does the trail meander along a lovely stream, complete with stunning waterfalls and quaint footbridges, it’ll also take you past the Roaring Run Furnace—a pre-Civil War era iron ore furnace, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Pack a basket, as stream-side picnic sites are plenty!

Distance from downtown Roanoke: 40 miles

4. Dragon’s Tooth Trail

The trail leading to the eponymous Dragon’s Tooth rock formation is only a little over two miles long…but don’t be fooled. The last stretch of the hike is quite the climb! If you’re the kind of hiker that likes a bit of a clamber, however, the views from the top—displaying an incredible panorama of the area’s surrounding peaks and valleys—are definitely worth the effort.

Distance from downtown Roanoke: 19 miles

5. McAfee Knob

As any guidebook on the area will tell you, McAffee Knob is one of the most photographed spots on the Appalachian Trail, frequently making it onto most serious hikers’ bucket lists. And with good reason! The dizzyingly high rocky overhang offers a breathtaking 270-degree panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. If you can, plan this trip for a weekday, as it is by far one of the area’s most popular (and, therefore, crowded) hikes.

Distance from downtown Roanoke: 15 miles

article-0617-mcafee-knob-emma-frances-logan-barker-187081Sunset over McAfee Knob

We hope this gives you a decent start toward exploring Roanoke’s nearby trails. If you’re looking for more suggestions or in-depth info on what the area has to offer, Roanoke Outside is a fantastic resource. Hiking, biking, camping, fishing, climbing, boating, tubing, exploring…they have the scoop on everything you need to create your perfect Roanoke outdoor adventure.

Happy trails to you!