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Carvin Cove/Hay Rock - Daleville, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
8.0 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
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3.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,640 ft
Jefferson National Forest
Carvin's Cove Natural Reserve and Reservoir
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Park at the Park & Ride next to the Exxon station on US220. 37.39086, -79.90620

Are you tired of ridgeline hikes that have beautiful views of trees? If so, then head to Daleville, VA and go south on the A.T. for view after view of the Carvin Cove Reservoir below and mountains beyond. We marked 3 great overlooks but there are many more before finally reaching Hay Rock.

The climb to the ridgeline is about 2 miles. We last did this hike in late June, and can only imagine what this hike will be like in the Fall. You may need more time with all the stops to take in the views :)

The trail begins at the guard rail behind the commuter parking area. There is room for 3-4 cars to park in front of the guard rail.

  • Mile 0.0 – Cross the road to the guard rail and continue 0.2 miles on the unmarked trail until you reach the A.T. Intersection.
  • Mile 0.2 – At the A.T. intersection bear left onto the white blazed A.T. In the next 0.9 miles you will cross a creek and railroad tracks before reaching the RATC Information Kiosk.
  • Mile 1.1 – RATC Information Kiosk. An easy hike to this point and we were beginning to wonder what happened to those lovely rocks we have come to expect on the A.T. in VA, should have kept our thoughts to ourselves!! From this point it becomes steeper and the trail more rocky.
  • Mile 1.9 – Cross under a high voltage power line, and you'll cross this once again on the ridge. There are a few switchbacks prior to reaching the ridge at the 1.9 mile mark, passing under another high voltage power line. The power lines took away from some of the beauty of this hike, but the views will make you forget them. The view to the northeast is Daleville.
  • Mile 4.0 – Over the next 0.8 miles we marked 3 (there are others) really good overlooks with views to the west of McAfee Knob before finally reaching Hay Rock. There is a little bit of a climb to get to the best view on Hay Rock accessed via the crevice near the north side. Please be careful as it is steep to get to the top. This section is not advised for small children. Some of the previous overlooks are better suited for lunch than Hay Rock.
  • Enjoy your time here then retrace your steps back to the parking area on Route US220.
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Hiker Reviews For The Carvin Cove/Hay Rock Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Carvin Cove/Hay Rock hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 18, 2016
Agree with the reviewer on the ratings on the streams (I think there were 2 in 4 miles), but as for the difficulty, well I guess that depends on your age and condition, but I would rate this as a moderate hike.

I started at the park and ride lot. HikingUpward and other internet resources are great, you'd never know there was a trail behind that guard rail. I ran into some muddy spots the first half mile or so. Apart from the views one of the best things about this hike was the changing terrain. There was a lot of sandy soil to walk on (nice and smooth), there were places lightly covered in pine needles, and then there were some rocky areas. Some steep climbs here and there, but I'd rate this a moderate hike on the difficulty level because there are a few places where the path is just big rocks that you need to navigate down or through.

Many spots to see some great views, particularly between 2 and 4 miles. Hay Rock is not hard to miss, it hangs way across the trail. I will say that climbing up the Hay Rock is a little easier than coming down. I made it ok, but I don't think I'll do it again unless I'm hiking with a friend next time. I stopped and had a snack and water there and took some pictures.

Coming back was about the same as going up, perhaps a little easier. Near the end I did remember to veer right on the 'unmarked' trail instead of keeping left to continue on the AT.

All in all, it was a great location, I plan on going back this Fall.


By: gadevildawg Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, July 04, 2016
We hiked mid afternoon on the Fourth of July. The trail was well marked, secluded, and had very nice views. We have hiked many trails in VA and the Hiking Upward ratings are usually pretty accurate. This one was not. The trail difficulty rating was probably more like a 2 and the streams rating may have been a 1.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 27, 2015
Confirm previous posts. Started at park & Ride. Took us 5 hours 8 miles to Hayrock and back.The younger folks were faster for sure. We plodded steadily. Great views. Especially with trees leafless. Once you make the ridge it is a great hike to Hay Rock with rock challenges mixed with soft pine needle trails. The contrasting views on either side of the ridge trail are amazing. Daleville/Botetourt below on the right and Carvin Cove valley on the left. This was our first day hike on the AT and we loved it. A great first hike. The ascent will get your heart rate up. Feet and knees pretty sore coming back down to Daleville.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, September 02, 2015
Great hike and great views! The RATC has done an excellent job of trail maintenance and marking...some of the best we have seen. Worth the trip and will do it again!

By: SM T372 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 17, 2015
All the accolades of prior posts...excellent hike... just posting this as an fyi...the AT has been re-routed from the railroad tracks (the trail mileage signs remain on the old section, visible to the right of the new trail upon leaving the RxR tracks) to about 200yards(?) from where Tinker Top Road approaches the AT. All that to say this...be prepared for MUD. Otherwise, it's well marked with blazes.

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Late June
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