Douthat State Park is one of Virginia's jewels. Voted as one of the nations 10 best, the park has over 43 miles of trails. Beards Mountain has just as many beautiful vistas as the Blue Suck Falls Hike, the other circuit hike in Douthat State Park. Both hikes also have an abundance of Mountain laurel that blooms in early June.
The blue blazed Beards Gap Trail starts up right side of the Visitor Center, and initially passes over a wooden footpath. Follow the blue blazed trail as it heads up the gap. The trail will make several switchbacks before arriving at the ridge, and intersection of the Bushy Hollow and Mountain Top trails in 1.1 miles.
Turn left on the yellow blazed Mountain Top Trail as it continues to climb along the ridge. In 0.2 miles the trail will make a sharp turn to the right. To the left is a closed overlook trail. In 200 yards reach the 4-way intersection of the Buck Hollow and Mountain Side trails. Stay straight on the yellow blazed Mountain Top Trail and in 0.1 miles the trail will make a sharp turn to the right and pass the first vista of Douthat Lake. From this point, the trail will climb more steeply before leveling off and arriving a the circuit high point.
There is a marker for the GWNF here, and what a appears to be a trail continuing straight. Stay left downward on the yellow blazed trail as it follows the ridge, before descending more steeply and passing the best vista of Lake Douthat. The trail will now turn back to the left and in another 0.4 miles reach the intersection of the Ross Camp and Mountain Side trails.
Turn left on the white blazed Mountain Side Trail and reach the third vista in 0.9 miles. From this vista the trail will gradually begin to climb back to the ridge and reach the 4-way intersection of the Mountain Top and Buck Hollow trails in 0.4 miles.
Turn right downhill on the blue blazed Buck Hollow Trail as it steeply descends the mountain reaching an Overlook Trail in 0.5 miles. The Overlook Trail is a 0.5 miles out/back that takes you to a panoramic vista of the park. Continue down on the Buck Hollow Trail for 0.4 miles to the next 4-way intersection with the Ross Camp and Wilson Creek trails.
Turn left on the white blazed Wilson Creek Trail, immediately crossing a small footbridge. The white blazed trail will pass a water tower in 0.1 miles, then turn left into the woods. DO NOT continue straight on the gravel road. Follow the white blazed trail for 0.3 miles where it crosses a camp road then ends at an stone chimney and The Lodge.
Pass around The Lodge, back to the Visitors Center and parking.
Beards Mountain Hike Comments
Date of Hike: Sunday, July 8, 2018
Was very disappointed in the view. Most areas are grown up with about 8-10 year old pines. Views are limited. The beginning of the trail was so overgrown with vegetation it was shocking.
Date of Hike: Saturday, December 31, 2016
Not bad. Decent workout but not too hard. Would have liked some better views. Very well maintained.
Date of Hike: Saturday, July 25, 2015
Don't hike this if you want breathtaking views- yes, it is a beautiful hike but it's not the type where you get to the top, panting, to see an out of this world panoramic. There aren't many overlooks (it looked like there were 2 when we were hiking. The first was overgrown and had a 'trail closed' sign, and the second one was a smallish opening in the trees that overlooked the lake) but the actual scenery in the woods is very nice, and some of the switchbacks were really, really cool. The hike is strenuous and will wear you out without completely exhausting you. I'd do it again, but the views are really, really not a 5. Not in the area of the world it is, with the amount of mountaintop views that are in the George Washington and Thomas Jefferson forests.
Bharath - BB - T90
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 2, 2015
It was a very beautiful day to hike and the views were awesome. It probably never went above 65 and we really enjoyed the trails. The best part was the view of the lake and the mountains behind and the greenery throughout the hike.
We started from Richmond around 8:30 and reached Douthat State Park visitor center around 11:15. Started our hike around 11:30 and by we were back around 4.15pm. We spend a good amount of time taking pictures hence our total time was much more than what was suggested.
We did do the additional hike to the overlook and that brought our total hike to 8.17 miles and we spent close to 3hrs hiking time( excluding the time we stopped ).
Overall very satisfying hike and views and I wouldnt mind returning.
Mike and Raylan
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 7, 2015
Oh man what a fun hike. It is fairly challenging for a casual day hiker, but not enough to where you're collapsing at the end of it. You get some really cool scenery as you ascend the mountain, with a few peeks at Douthat Lake as well as the other side of the valley and the Cowpasture river.
When we did this hike there was about 8-12 inches of snow on the ground, which made it even more challenging. With that said, the views under the snow covered mountain were amazing. Took about 3-3.5 hours to complete, with about 30 minutes worth of breaks during the trek. This is a great hike to bring your pup along for the ride. My dog did excellent and we only saw one other group during our hike.
Highly recommend checking this hike, and all other hikes out at Douthat State Park!
Date of Hike: Wednesday, January 14, 2015
This hike was fantastic. It was all around stunning. At the beginning of the hike, the trail crosses a stream several times making it absolutely picturesque. It was slightly more challenging than I anticipated, but the views made up for it. There was lovely ice formations when the water typically runs down the mountain.
Date of Hike: Saturday, June 28, 2014
What a great hike. It was moderately challenging but not so much that you were hating yourself. The trail is marked well and clean, there are a couple of spots that are very narrow and overgrown but that is really kept to a minimum. We saw a total of 5 other hikers. There are 3 places for a great view of the lake and 2 other places that have wonderful vistas along the trail, otherwise a lot of walking and not a lot of looking. We took my 4 year old daughter and she walked all except a mile of this trail. We did see a black bear and had to go into bear avoidance for a short part but it ran away once we started clapping and yelling. I highly recommend this hike.
Val & Andy
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 3, 2009
Had a great time! Very beautiful at this time of year. Like others have said, the most strenuous portion is the first 2-3 miles. We took our 16-lb border terrier, and he made it fine. Met some mountain bikers on the trail, too. Didn't do the Overlook Trail portion because it was getting dark, and it appears to have some upward incline which was more than we had ambition for towards the end of the journey. Also wanted to mention that it took us 3 hrs 20 min to hike, and that's WITHOUT a 1/2 hr for lunch OR the Overlook Trail portion... we're not super-fast expert hikers or anything, but we're in pretty good physical condition and hike every month. So depending on your fitness level or how leisurely you want to enjoy the hike, you may want to budget more than the 3.5 hr time estimate. Aside from hiking, we also tent-camped there at Douthat State Park and really enjoyed ourselves. We recommend it, and will probably do it again!
Date of Hike: Friday, October 17, 2008
My casting friend Dr P & myself had a great time. We brought 4 cameras along & did some good 'studio' work.
Date of Hike: Sunday, July 20, 2008
As beginners, we drove up from Richmond to hike Beard's Mountain with our dog on a Sunday. We loved the hike, but were definitely challenged by the first leg of the trail. Once we got to the ridge about two miles in, it was smooth sailing. We saw exactly one other person, (although we saw her twice, she put us to shame by looping around us,) one snake, and a few piles of bear poop. The streams were completely dry, which was a bit disappointing, but overall the views were gorgeous and the trails themselves were lovely. There were a ton of people in the park, which seems to be a hotspot for RVs and campers, but we were pleased to have the trails all to ourselves. We'd definitely do it again!