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Buzzard Hill - Bluemont Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
9.0 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
5.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
3,020 ft
Bears Den Trail Center
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Turn right at the first drive way marked Bears Den, follow the gravel road to parking area. $3 parking fee. 39.10961, -77.84903

This hike is the the sister hike of Raven Rocks. Starting at Bears Den it heads south on The Appalachian Trail for 4.5 miles to the top of Buzzard Hill. Although the length is only 9.0 miles the vertical ascents over the ridge spurs add up to over 3000 feet of vertical gain by the time you get back.

From the parking area head up the dirt road towards the house where you turn left on the blue blazed nature trail just before the stone gates. In 50 yards pass a small nature trail on your left and in another 50 yards turn left at the intersection where a 20 foot trail connects to the Appalachian Trail (AT).

Turn left onto the white blazed AT and start your descent where in 0.6 miles you cross a stream over a old wooden foot bridge. Continue on the AT and in 1.0 miles cross the first fork of Spout Run. Begin another ascent as you cross another spur before descending and arriving at the Sawmill Spring/Moore Shelter blue blazed trail that heads left uphill.

Stay straight on the AT and shortly cross the second fork of Spout Run and and intersection of the other end of the Moore Shelter trail. The trail connects with the trail you just passed and is a small loop to the shelter. You can see the shelter through the trees in the winter.

Turn right remaining on the AT for another 1.6 miles as it crosses another spur before passing a short flat area and beginning your final ascent up Buzzard Hill.

At the top of Buzzard Hill the AT heads slightly left, turn right on a short side trail that goes to a lookout area and great spot for lunch. To return just retrace your route.

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Hiker Reviews For The Buzzard Hill Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 21, 2017
My wife and I have hiked to Buzzard's Hill from Morgans Mill Road passing through Hollow Brook Falls once before, and thought it to be a nice, easy hike. Having hiked several trails through the Shenandoah Valley, we decided to try something a little more challenging and chose this hike to Buzzard's Hill from the Bears Den area. Little did we know challenging was an understatement!

The beginning .5 miles of the hike is the least enjoyable, as after viewing the Bears Den overlook (which is nice), you begin a deep descent and can hear the cars and traffic from route 7. However once you cross a small wooden bridge, the sound of the traffic disappears and you hear nothing but nature.

Thus begins what we found to be called the "roller coaster" portion of the Appalachian Trail. You go through a few deep descents and ascents up the mountains with precious little level ground in between. There are a few landmarks that are of interest (a small stream camp area and the 1000 mile marker of the Appalachian Trail). Eventually on your last descent, you come to Buzzard's Hill. The outlook is ok, but it makes a great spot for lunch, and to replenish yourself with food knowing that you have to go back the way you came...ascending and descending over the same mountains!

My wife and I (mid to late 30s) are in great shape and by the end of the hike we were pretty beat, but felt great knowing that we just accomplished one of the more challenging portions of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. We did the hike on a warm (mid-upper 80s) day in June, and had just enough water, so plan on bringing plenty to drink...more than you think you would need.

Some other eventful highlights of the trail:

• Saw a man hiking in nothing but his underwear, who was immediately followed by a man wearing nothing but a rainbow colored sock over his private area, wishing us a "Happy Solstice!" as we passed by.

• I was nearly bitten in the crotch by a passing hiker's dog after asking to pet the dog and moving a little too quickly before she could respond with that he is not too fond of male strangers (rescue dog). I blame this one on me!

• We saw a medium-sized black bear lumbering through the woods on the last mile of the trail heading back to Bear's Den

• Dipping our toes in the stream on the last 1-1.5 mile of the trail to rejuvenate us for the last portion of the hike.

By: Jordan D Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 10, 2017
FEEL THE BURN! If you're looking for a solid challenge of a hike that's 1 hour + closer drive to the D.C. metro area than the more scenic spots farther west - this is it. Located in the area communally referred to as the 'roller coaster' hills by AT hikers, this trail starts out at the Bear's Den parking area, which at first glance driving in appears to be a residential address. Don't be mistaken as it's a gravel road that leads back to the parking area (try to have $3 cash handy to put in the parking box nearby). My load consisted a daypack (GR1), 3L water, two Clif bars, and a 30lb iron plate for added training (overall close to a 40lb load). This was a pretty tough hike for me with the added weight and, even with 3L, I had to ration the pace of my water consumption towards the end - this was in the mid-June heat in the peak of the afternoon + added weight - but you definitely want to hydrate throughout and consider the 3k' elevation change. This hike is essentially all a series of large ups and downs. The vista at the end is pretty sub-par - this isn't a hike for views. There are a few small stream crossings but nothing crazy. The only other part of this hike of note is that it passes the 1000 mile mark of the AT (you might see some words of encouragement along the way on the trail) and an AT shelter maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail club. It's worth it to stop by for a quick break and read/write an entry in the trail log for some inspiration. Overall this took me about 5.5 hours to complete which, combined with the distance from D.C., makes this a great option for a daylong workout that is a bit closer than SNP or other hikes further away.

By: Joe Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 03, 2017
So -- when I put in for directions to the parking area from DC, the website actually took me all the way to Rt. 605, which is a gravel road, and there's parking on the side of the road right where the trail crosses. The problem is that I guess I didn't actually do Buzzard Hill b/c the directions took me elsewhere...just as an FYI to anyone driving there.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 19, 2017
This was a very nice hike! As noted by other reviewers, be prepared for a succession of very long, steep inclines. We (two 40-year olds of average hiking fitness) took 2 hours and 20 minutes to reach destination. The viewing spot at Buzzard Hill was quite nice (although we didn't spot any buzzards!) and a perfect place to rest and have lunch before heading back. We started at noon and, contrary to other reviews, we didn't find many hikers on the trail (despite the unusually warm weather and being on the Sunday of Presidents' Day weekend). Fun fact: midway along the way, you'll see a small, wooden sign inscribed "1000" nailed to a tree. It marks the AT mileage from it's starting point in Georgia!

By: scott Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 28, 2016
Somehow, this was the first time we've done this section of the AT. Nice hike, though a bit monotonous with all the up and down and up and down. Nice streams, nice view at Bear's Den, fair view and nice lunch spot at Buzzard's Hill (and, true to name, lots of buzzards!!). I mostly write to warn the casual hikers that this is indeed a very challenging hike (should be a 5 in my opinion, relative to most of the other hikes on this site. We are older guys in very good shape, but we were pretty whipped by the end). Trail is very rough throughout, so expect the added difficulty/challenge of constant rock hopping and numerous stream crossings. Also, we did this on a warmish winter day, and, though I always double the amount of H2O that I think I'll need, ended up draining the last drops at the final ascent. So, don't underestimate the difficulty and bring lots and lots of water, particularly if you try this during warmer months. Finally, on a pretty weekend, the first section near Route 7/Bear's Den was an absolute mob scene by mid-day. if you want any level of solitude, go very early to get ahead of the crowd or pick a weekday.

    View all 38 reviews for the Buzzard Hill hike
Mid March

Good thing we had a nice cool day for this hike. The total elevation gain is over 3000 ft and by the time we were on the last ascent back to Bears Den our legs had just about had enough.

This was the first time we have hiked to Buzzard Hill and as we expected on this out and back hike the few people we did see were Appalachian Trail thru-hikers.

The one great vista is right at Bears Den, instead of turning south on the AT go north for just 100 yards and the view to the west is great. The hike itself had the streams full with melt water and Buzzard Peak itself has a nice south west view.

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