Virginia is…NOT FLAT

Virginia gets talked about a lot. For good reason, after all it DOES contain the most AT miles of any state. However, there seems to be a whole lot of misinformation floating around about the great state of Virginia, some of which I’d like to clarify. 

So, Virginia IS

  1. Beautiful.  

    VA’s long, rolling ridgelines offer spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and the varied terrain keeps thing interesting

  2. Rugged  

    VA trails are covered in roots and rocks, which can make footing tricky and can kill ankles.

  3. For loversby the time you get to VA, your trail family is basically just family and everyone shares the love. 
  4. Rocky (with an emphasis on rocky)  

    Rocks are everywhere. From tiny, slippery shale to mansion-sized boulders you have to scale.

  5. Farm Country  

    When you’re not scrambling over ridgelines, you may very well be walking through a field on a working farm.

  6. Dry – when you walk on ridges all day, there isn’t much water to be found. We’ve seen several stretches of 10-12 miles with no reliable water sources. 

Virginia is NOT

  1. Flat  – Let’s just get something straight. When people say VA is flat, what they mean is that you don’t go up and down and up and down all day over countless mountains (like you do in GA). What it does NOT mean is that VA is actually flat. In VA, you do massive uphill climbs to get to a ridgeline. Then, you walk on the ridgeline for miles and miles. If mountains were dinosaurs, they’d be Stegosaurus, and the ridgeline would be those spikes on the Stegosuarus’s back. You do hundreds of tiny ups and downs, accented by lots of rocks and boulder hopping and occasionally sideways walking. Then you do a massive downhill climb to (finally) get to some water source or road crossing before its back up onto the ridge again.  

    I climbed four hours and 5.5 miles for this view


Now that we have that straight, here’s a short trail update: 

  • I’ve only hiked 19 miles since my last update
  • I accidentally took 3 unplanned zero days because a hiking parter (Silly) was sick 
  • I got my first (and second and third) trail magic! 
  • I got my car back! Silly is gonna be driving it up trail for a few weeks to do slackpacking/support until she’s feeling better 
  • Dragon’s Tooth was the hardest 8 miles I’ve ever hiked in my life (trail tip: slackpack it, trust me, whatever it costs just slackpack it)
  • I ate at the Homeplace restaurant (trail tip: eat here)
  • I saw the Keffer Oak yesterday!  

    Standing in front of the Keffer Oak, largest tree on the southern AT

  • I’m still covered in bug bites 
  • Feet and ankles feel strong 
  • I’ve spent way too much time at Four Pines Hostel… I should start paying rent (trail tip: free showers but no towels, bring your own) 

I’ll do a more detailed actual update after I’ve put in a few more miles. Basically, VA is hard and I’m having the time of my life. 

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Comments 3

  • Putt-Putt : Jun 10th

    Totally agree. VA is not flat. Varied terrain and a long state to get through. 2015 NOBO.

  • Paulette Goerler : May 28th

    Just got back from Shenandoah National Park and met a lot of hikers there. My husband and I are in our 70’s so we only hiked a very small part of the AT! Not for sissies!!! Met two women who I hope make it all the way. They are my new heros. By the way Virginia is NOT FLAT but it is beautiful. We are from Ohio.


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