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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)
Review the Buzzard Hill hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Whitney Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 30, 2017
The AT is well marked from the Bear Den side for about 1.2 miles. At that point the AT goes right and the well marked trail goes left up to the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, the AT from that point on is not marked very well and very difficult to traverse. Hundreds of large trees have fallen across the path and pricker bushes have grown everywhere. There is no real path - you are effectively trailblazing in the direction you think you are suppose to go. Do not wear short pants on this part of the AT. Finally, once you hit the lowest point (about 2 miles in), the land spreads out and you are crossing a bog type area (your boots will get wet). The path completely disappears, the markings stop (in both directions), and you must rely on either GPS or your compass in order to continue on the AT. This is not a casual hike for a day trip. And, a lousy hike if you just want to hike. We spent most of our time trying to find the trail. Not a trip we will repeat.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 09, 2017
After reading reviews from previous hikers, I was nervous about hiking this section of the AT. While the Roller Coaster is not the hardest part of the AT, its known for its ups and downs and elevation changes. While there was close to 3,200 feet of elevation gain during this hike, a person whos moderately fit will find it challenging, but easily doable. Most of the climbs are 300 400 feet over a distance of .5 miles or more. The hardest part was about an hour into the hike, where you climb about 550 feet in about 20 minutes.

I left around 6:30 AM, and only saw some campers beside one of the water crossings. Coming back, I ran into about 15 people who were going in the opposite direction. I had the good fortune of coming across a couple of wild turkeys and a dear. At this time of year, the foliage is dense, so dont expect to get any sun, which makes this a nice hike on a hot day.

By: Brian M Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 02, 2017
As others have stated bring extra water. Definitely wouldn't recommend this hike if you're looking for views as the main overlook is pretty underwhelming. Very challenging hike and was a great workout though. Didn't run into many people, mostly thru-hikers, but that may have been partially due to the 90+ degree temp and humidity.

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.

    View all 41 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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