The Best Places for Hiking Near Charlottesville

Charlottesville is often thought of as a growing quasi-metropolitan area. But, this perspective disregards the rugged wilderness surrounding the city and the dozens of great spots for hiking near Charlottesville. So, take advantage of the incredible beauty of Central Virginia by exploring the scenic outdoors on your day off. Here’s a list of the best places to start.

Need gear? Let Great Outdoor Provision Co. hook you up! 

 

Hiking near Charlottesville at Spy Rock

Spy Rock, Nelson County, Virginia

Parking Lot Address: 10438-10636 Crabtree Falls Hwy, Tyro, VA 22976 (Same parking lot for Crabtree Falls) OR 314 Fish Hatchery Ln, Montebello, VA 24464

Driving time from Charlottesville – 2.5 hour round-trip

Estimated Hiking Time – 3 hours

Total Time of Adventure – 5.5 hours

Website 

The trek to Spy Rock is thrilling and challenging, with varying levels of intensity along the way. You’ll be traversing cascading Crabtree Falls, wildflower-dotted Crabtree Meadows, and part of the Appalachian Trail. The easy beginning mile that sticks you on a fire road is very misleading because once you get past it, it turns into a strenuous path to the peak. Near the top is a short rock scramble to reach the lovely reward: a 360-degree panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This breathtaking view makes the climb up seem a little less taxing. It’s a relatively easy path back down afterwards.

Afterwards, resuscitate yourself on the way back to Charlottesville with a stop-off at Brewing Tree Beer Company (9278 Rockfish Valley Highway) for delicious beer and sustenance furnished by Mark Thompson, one of Virginia’s earliest and best brewmasters.

Hiking near Charlottesville at Spy Rock

Spy Rock, Nelson County, Virginia

Parking Lot Address: 10438-10636 Crabtree Falls Hwy, Tyro, VA 22976 (Same parking lot for Crabtree Falls) OR 314 Fish Hatchery Ln, Montebello, VA 24464

Driving time from Charlottesville – 2.5 hour round-trip

Estimated Hiking Time – 3 hours

Total Time of Adventure – 5.5 hours

Website 

The trek to Spy Rock is thrilling and challenging, with varying levels of intensity along the way. You’ll be traversing cascading Crabtree Falls, wildflower-dotted Crabtree Meadows, and part of the Appalachian Trail. The easy beginning mile that sticks you on a fire road is very misleading because once you get past it, it turns into a strenuous path to the peak. Near the top is a short rock scramble to reach the lovely reward: a 360-degree panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This breathtaking view makes the climb up seem a little less taxing. It’s a relatively easy path back down afterwards.

Afterwards, resuscitate yourself on the way back to Charlottesville with a stop-off at Brewing Tree Beer Company (9278 Rockfish Valley Highway) for delicious beer and sustenance furnished by Mark Thompson, one of Virginia’s earliest and best brewmasters.

Hiking near Charlottesville at Humpback Rock

Humpback Rock, Waynesboro, Virginia

Parking Lot Address: Humpback Gap Overlook, Afton, VA 22920

Driving time from Charlottesville – 1 hour round-trip

Estimated Hiking Time – 1.5 hours

Total Time of Adventure – 2.5 hours

Website

By far the most popular hike among UVA students and Charlottesville residents alike, Humpback combines a short trip time with an incredible view of Central Virginia. Located only 30 minutes away from Charlottesville, Humpback is an accessible place to catch a beautiful sunrise before work or class or take in the sunset in early fall. Be warned: for only being a mile-long incline, Humpback packs in 800 feet of elevation, and it’s a surprising test not for the faint of heart.

After your sunrise jaunt, recharge your batteries with a dose of caffeine from Grit Coffee in Crozet’s Old Trail neighborhood and continue your day with Humpback’s great view in mind. If it’s a sunset hike you’ve completed, Blue Mountain Brewery is less than 10 minutes away from the Humpback parking lot and serves great food and unforgettable beer in a countryside atmosphere where Salzburg meets Charlottesville.

Hiking near Charlottesville at Jones Run

Jones Run/Doyle River off Skyline Drive, Crozet, Virginia

Parking Lot Address: Browns Gap Rd, Crozet, VA 22932

Driving time from Charlottesville – 2 hour round-trip

Estimated Hiking Time – 4 hours

Total Time of Adventure – 6 hours

Website

This is a hike meant for the warmer months. The Jones Run adventure is a Skyline Drive experience to behold when the water is a nice temperature. Skyline Drive is chock-full of memorable hikes, but the falls at Jones Run move this trail into a class of its own. With colorful, plentiful foliage and quite a few places to splash around in refreshing waterfalls, this is a unique day trip that isn’t too far from Charlottesville.

Nothing works better after a swim and a hike on a nice day than a relaxing session at Pro Re Nata Brewery (6135 Rockfish Gap Turnpike) in Crozet. Indoors or out, the liquid sunshine, western atmosphere, beer-centric food truck fare, and frequent live music will enable you to reflect blissfully on your excellent outing.

Hiking near Charlottesville at Old Rag

Old Rag, Madison County, Virginia

Parking Lot Address: 2509 Nethers Rd, Sperryville, VA 22740

Driving time from Charlottesville – 2.5 hour round-trip

Estimated Hiking Time – 4.5 hours

Total Time of Adventure – 7 hours

Website

Old Rag is indisputably the crown jewel of day hikes in Virginia; this 3,284-foot-tall mountain has the highest foot traffic of any hike in Shenandoah National Park, and for good reason. This is likely the most difficult – and fun – hike in all of Virginia, with tons of rock scrambles, and a steep elevation gain – not to mention the sheer distance of the hike, which is more than 9 miles long. Don’t be fooled, though; despite the distance and difficulty, Old Rag is a genuinely rewarding accomplishment to add to your hiking résumé. 

Once you get back to the parking lot (after an agonizingly long hike down the mountain), we recommend you cool your heels at one of the area’s hottest brewpubs – Bald Top Brewing Company, just outside Madison on the way back to 29 South. The beer is fresh and thirst-quenching, served in a rustic setting, with food trucks nearby and live music on weekends.

Hiking near Charlottesville at Ivy Creak

Ivy Creek Natural Area, Charlottesville, Virginia

Parking Lot Address: 1780 Earlysville Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22901

Estimated In-Town Driving Time – 30-minute round-trip

Estimated Hiking Time – 2.5 hours

Total Time of Adventure – 1.5 – 3 hours

Website

Ivy Creek is a quiet, local gem.  Just a few minutes west off of Route 29, it’s a delightful spot with active wildlife and floral beauty. You’ll enjoy a family-friendly 5-mile hike within this nature preserve. But, it’s also a wonderful place to simply sit on a bench while taking in unadulterated nature. After your quick escape from the real world, consider reacclimation at Burger Bach, a New Zealand-inspired gastropub in the Shops at Stonefield that will knock your socks off. 

Don’t forget! Dress for the weather, and bring lots of water and a snack or two for whatever hike you go on. These adventures can be physically taxing, so it’s best to be prepared.