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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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e.g. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
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)
Review the Buzzard Hill hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: MDThunder Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 29, 2013
Great workout of a hike - probably a solid 5 in difficulty rather than the listed 4. It's nearly nonstop up and down, with only small flat sections of terrain for recovery. Trekking poles would be great for this hike, but it's doable without them. Not great for views, but the terrain and stream crossings makes this hike very interesting to do. The side trail on buzzard hill isn't blazed, but it's a very short walk up to the rock outcropping on the right (coming from the north) to stop and eat lunch. The challenge in this hike makes this one of our favorites.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 29, 2013
I wanted to have a strenuous hike under my belt since I've completed Old Rag twice. I thought it would be the next level for me and my sister. We are in good physical shape, work out often, and run plenty of races. So, we thought this would be a great addition to our training. I'm 40 and my sister is 35. Let's put this out here first and foremost. THIS ONE IS DIFFICULT!

We started off from Bear's Den, following the blue blazed trail to the white Appalachian Trail (AT). We followed the the AT all the way to buzzard's hill summit. It was a difficult hike right when we started on the white AT and didn't stop until we were back by the car. This section of the AT is full of steep ups and downs with a ton of rocks and some stairs. It's hard on the ankles, shins, quads, glutes, and feet. There are very little flat areas for recovery and sometimes the trail is covered by leaves. However, it is well blazed. I took my 1 year old German Shepherd with me and she did it fine, leaving us in the dust and coming back to check on us. Not many people were there and most were men with large calves or some who were running it. Yay for them. It's good for solitude (11-12 people in 9 miles), one look out at the summit, and a couple of tiny streams to walk over. Foliage was starting to change and it was cool enough for us not to get overheated. We we drank 50 fluid oz. of water to stay hydrated.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 08, 2013
This is a re-review of this hike. This time I went on a pleasant late summer day with no weather problems. Overall this is not the hike for beginners or for those looking for awe-inspiring views. It's all in the middle of thick woods and they don't call it "The Rollercoaster" for nothing. Its a great training and physical fitness hike because the entire five hours you are working hard going up and down the ridges. If that's what you are into, have at it. Otherwise you may want to take the path more traveled and more picturesque.

By: Invictus Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 01, 2013
Pretty tough 6.25 miles.  I started at Hollow Brook  (Rt. 605) and went straight through to Bears Den.  Rocky trail only made the roller coaster tougher.  Wear sturdy shoes and bring a hiking stick or two.  Weather was spotty drizzle with partly cloudy skies.  Windy and cold on the ridge tops despite the sun.  Arrive early as parking is limited to 3-4 cars.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 02, 2013
Great hike and just as hard as reviewers note here. This is not a hike for folks who are just getting started and want to try hiking. We (females, one early 30's, one early 40's) did this hike as a challenge to see how we're coming along in getting fit and gearing up for longer hikes. We're in average shape currently and hike 10-11 miles most Saturdays for the past few months. This is the first time we were really exhausted after 10 miles. We were surprised by the number of folks we saw out as we got farther along, especially on a blustery March day with random brief snow flurries. We saw 3 other pairs of hikers, one set of 4 guys doing an overnight, another solo hiker doing this as a challenge as we were, and a boy scout troop of about 10 kids and 3 adults. A couple items we found when hiking this one:

- It's actually 10.5ish miles if you start at the parking lots on Rt7. We verified with GPS, AT maps and pedometers.
- We seriously regretted not having trek poles with us. You really needed them on this one. It's hell on the knees, esp. on the steep descent on the middle hill on the return route, without them.
- Not recommended after a heavy storm in the winter. What doesn't show in the pics or the description is the length of the stream crossings. You end up rock hopping across 15-20 feet of stream a couple of times. We had no trouble but if the streams had been swollen with rain, too many of the rocks would have been submerged to make this doable in cold weather as you'd have to wade in.
- As others have noted, watch the rocks, esp on steep descents. Very easy to twist an ankle here, good shoes or not.

Overall, a great challenge hike. We'd hoped to try to hike to the waterfall past Buzzard Hill but we started out too late and it would have left us doing the last ascent/descent combo to the parking lot in the dusk and dark. Too rocky a trail to want to do that, even w/headlamps and lights.

    View all 23 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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