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Beards Mountain / Douthat State Park - Clifton Forge, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
7.0 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
3.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,455 ft
Douthat State Park
Printable Topo Hike Map (PDF)

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Park at the visitors center. 37.89522, -79.80137

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.

Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Beards Mountain hike:

Hiker Reviews For The Beards Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Beards Mountain hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Lexi M Rating: 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.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 31, 2016
Not bad. Decent workout but not too hard. Would have liked some better views. Very well maintained.

By: Rating: 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.

By: Rating: 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.

By: Mike and Raylan Rating: 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!

    View all 11 reviews for the Beards Mountain hike
Mid May
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