Hikes and Rambles: The AT to Buzzard Rock (Whitetop, VA)

View from Buzzard Rock

On Easter Sunday we set out late in the afternoon for a short hike to Buzzard Rock. We drove up Whitetop Mountain Road and parked in a gravel parking lot just steps away from the Appalachian Trail.

We only went a mile out and the trail had three distinct sections:

The trail surrounded by blueberry bushes, woods, and balds.

Appalachian Trail Blaze
The distinctive white blaze that marks the Appalachian Trail.

On the first section we met a through hiker setting up camp for the night, he had come up from  Springer Mountain and was going to reach 500 miles the following day. He was from Nebraska and in incredibly good spirits. He was the only hiker we saw that day.

The next section through the woods had a more rocky path and more exciting things to distract the children. They had to be bribed and carried to keep them making forward progress here.

Appalachian Trail through the woods
“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.”
A fallen tree alongside the Appalachian Trail
The kids loved playing on this!
Flowers alongside the Appalachian Trail
Signs of spring!

Once we left the woods there was a brief stretch through bushes and then we found ourselves up on the bald, with the entire world at our feet. There are several collections of rocks to climb and the views were stunning. The sun was coming through the clouds in exactly the right way to make you to drop everything and jump on the trail to Maine.

The sun behind the clouds on Buzzard Rock
I took pictures every couple of minutes along this hike because the clouds were so beautiful and kept changing.
Buzzard Rock View
My mom and I are thinking about joining the Cloud Appreciation Society. Who’s with us?
K and Chris on Buzzard Rock
Daddy and Son, climbing on rocks.
Opa and K on Buzzard Rock
K and Opa, surveying the kingdom.

Unfortunately, we were just not equipped to walk to Maine, so we returned via the road which required a fairly steep uphill climb followed by a gentle slope down the parking lot. The road wasn’t as pleasant as the trail, but the views kept getting better and better.

Whitetop Mountain Road
Look at those clouds in the puddle, I love those.

I have really loved every step of the Appalachian Trail that I’ve been privileged to walk and every time I’m near it I can’t help thinking how wonderful it would be to hike the whole thing. To take 5 months and completely get to know the woods and your own body? To bond with your fellow hikers over the simple but incredibly difficult process of putting one foot in front of the other day after day? Logistically it seems impossible to do for another 20 years, but I did come across this blog today about a family who hiked the whole trail with their 7-year-old, 9-year-old, and dog. Maybe I need to start planning for a few years from now? Or maybe we need to set a goal to complete xx miles every year?


We did this hike again recently and I just have to post some summer pictures. Easter weekend was a beautiful time for this hike, but it’s hard to compete with the lush green of summer in the mountains!

Appalachian Trail in Summer
It’s a wonderful thing to spend time rambling in the woods!
View from the Appalachian Trail
Views of Virginia and Tennessee from along the Appalachian Trail.
View from Buzzard Rock in Summer
My sweet cousin looking out from Buzzard Rock.

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