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Hiker Reviews for the Buzzard Hill Hike - 1 to 43 of 43   
Review the Buzzard Hill hike here!   Average Review Rating:

By: Ginger Ninja Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 30, 2017
This is a great hike to build endurance - lots of elevation gain! It is nearly all on the AT - this is something to keep in mind if you think you're lost.

I noted Whitney's review below, and I think I know where she went wrong. Right before the first stream crossing (not the foot bridge, but the actual stream) there is a small trail down to a campsite by the stream. If you take that, there is no crossing - there is just brush and then a dry stream bed beyond that. Go back up to the main trail and look for the chainsaw cut log - a good sign of a trail, and then you'll see the white blazes again. The real crossing is about 30 ft up from the campsite.

The end point is also not really marked - I shot past it. If you end up at a series of small waterfalls and a large rock (about a mile after Buzzard Hill), then enjoy the atmosphere before heading back. :) The top of Buzzard Hill has a campsite with a really nice rock chair to enjoy the view!

By: Somewhere Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 19, 2017
I have to admit that this trail was more challenging than we expected. The day was in the 80s with moderate humidity. My husband and I drank all 3 liter of water before the final 0.6 mile uphill hike back to the car. We hiked many trails based on the suggestion of this website (thank you very much for all the detailed descriptions and topo maps) This is the first trail that took us longer time to finish than the suggested time. We'd like to point out that unlike the previous review by Whitney, this whole trail is very well maintained and marked. Whitney must have unknowly gone off trail at certain point.

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 who’s 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 don’t 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.

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.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 10, 2016
I hike this on a regular basis an this is one of my favorite trails. I usually hike with 2 vehicles an go from bears den to morgans mill rd. Id like to remind hikers to respect the land an to pack there trash out as i picked up a bag full of trash near morgans mill rd on my last outing.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 26, 2015
I did this hike and went a little longer past Buzzard Hill and got in a total of 14 miles. The elevation wasn't easy especially on a hot humid afternoon and went through 4 liters of water over almost 5 hours with one 15 minute break. It ranks up there on difficulty but my hardest hike by far for the elevation has been Old Rag and Robertson in one day which is the same distant but tougher climb.

By: Dukkar Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 18, 2015
Had no idea it was called "the Roller Coaster" until after the fact! This should be a level 5 so people set the right expectations and MOST IMPORTANTLY, carry enough water if it's going to be a hot, humid day. Great hike to get a great workout or to simply find out your endurance level and try harder. Will be going back again in a couple of weeks.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 06, 2015
With all respect to Roadie below (and I do respect her immensely, since she describes herself as "a fat chick who runs about a 12-minute mile" but managed to ace this challenging hike), this hike IS TOUGH. I also don't want to put off people afraid to try it, because it's definitely doable, but I would say it's harder than Old Rag. Know why? Because when you're halfway through hiking Old Rag, all the hard part's over. When you're halfway through this hike, you have exactly as much difficulty heading back.

The ascents and descents are simply no joke, I'd call them the toughest of the Roller Coaster (Google it with "AT").

Unfortunately, I did it on a day when my muscles were recovering from the original P90X Plyometrics workout, which I hadn't done for months before that, so that fact doubled the agony of the last few miles, coming back up to Bear's Den. I'm amazed Roadie extended this one. She's in much better shape than she thought she was. :)

I love this hike despite (or maybe because of) its difficulty, though. It's beautiful, interesting, challenging, and fun.

By: Mike and Raylan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 15, 2015
Excellent hike that really challenges the casual day-hiker. If you're looking for a hike with breathtaking views, this one may not be for you (although the views aren't bad). However, you do get a few awesome looks at Spout run and other streams roaring down the mountainside. Most of the winter snow was melting during my hike which made for some great rushing mountain streams.

Certainly a good amount of elevation changes with this hike. One of the toughest aspects of this hike is the fact that most of the trail is rocky/uneven. It was hard to get in a "rhythm", but certainly made for a great challenge. I really enjoyed the fact that this pushed me physically and will be returning to do it again in the future. I saw quite a few folks on this hike, especially in the first ~2-3 miles. I brought my dog and had him off leash most of the time--was a great hike for him to do despite the crowd of people at the beginning. If you're looking for a great day hike and excellent work out not too far away from DC this is a good hike for you.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, February 27, 2015
We ended first day of 3 Day backpacking trip from Ashby Gap to Harper's Ferry (Day 1 - 13.5 miles) in the dark on this section of the roller coaster (sun was setting when we arrived at Buzzard Hill). Planning to go back and do it again in the fall when there is not 6-18 inches of snow on the trail. You go up, you go down, cross an snow/ice covered stream and repeat. Reminded me of the Churchill quote "When you are going through hell, keep going." We eventually arrived at Bears Den Hiker Hostel a little after 9pm and had called ahead to let them know our pace was slowed by the trail conditions. Bears Den staff is AWESOME and after consuming 1/2 a pizza and part of a Ben and Jerry's pint (Hiker Special for $30), we retired for the evening in bunks. Next day we did 8.5 miles to Blackburn AT Center, but bailed out and did not complete the final 13 miles to Harpers Ferry do to change in weather forecast to freezing rain and snow which would have complicated the drive home. Will write another review after we do this trail in the fall. Considering we did not get lost in the dark in fresh snow, the AT is blazed well along this section. The stream crossings were easy, since they were snow covered. Hiking in the dark in 50 shades of white on the roller coaster is an experience I will never forget.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 07, 2014
First off: I think the difficulty of this hike has been oversold a bit. I don't say that to give the raspberry to others' experiences, but to try to keep anybody who might be on the fence about this one from being scared off. I'd give it a 3 on difficulty, and I'm a fat chick who runs about a twelve-minute mile. This is a good, solid workout, but it's far from Mt. Murder.

It's not really true that there's nowhere to catch your breath on this route. There are only a handful of sustained, steep ascents. I seem to remember two southbound, three northbound. (Not everything that looks nasty on an elevation map really is (though by the same token, not everything that looks soft on an elevation map is, either.)) In between there are stretches that are fairly level--the stretch including the Sam Moore shelter a good long one just at the bottom of the first hill out from Bears Den--and, of course, for every ascent, there's a descent. My knees used to hate that fact, too, but a few visits to the Roller Coaster actually seem to have tuned them up.

As others have already noted, there's little in the way of views here however, the shelter and the fact that the AT south of Route 7 is much more lightly traveled than the few miles north of it mean that this does make for a nice, contemplative, let-your-mind-go-blank-and-enjoy-the-quiet-time hike. (Especially nice for me because, as already mentioned, I'm not in great shape and it's nice to do my sweating and puffing away from prying eyes.) Still, the hike's capped with lovely views at either end, which is a nice feature. Today I extended to 605 for various reasons, but Buzzard Hill is a great place to turn around--go out on a high note.

Shelter information: Sam Moore is looking pretty good, no obvious rodent droppings, etc. nice picnic shelter, plenty of tenting areas, privy about as good as you can expect when people keep peeing in there. Spring flowing well as of this date.

A nice hike all around, a great hike for moderate exercise. As the capstone to a much longer day of hiking, these miles can really get your attention, but if you just want the out-and-back, don't be afraid! Dig in!

By: Jason Viper Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 10, 2014
I sought out Buzzard Hill for the challenge and it surely delivered!  I had done both hikes at Peaks of Otter in previous weeks, and Buzzard Hill makes them look like childs play.  Bring a map or GPS with you, as nobody I talked to knew where exactly Buzzard Hill was and many never even heard of it.  I ended up going right past the summit and eventually realized I had gone too far, so I decided to get my moneys worth and kept going all the way to Rte 605, which turned my 9+ mile trek into one around 12-13 miles.  Unfortunately, I only brought enough water and conditioning to do 9, not more.  After running and fast walking the majority of the course with zero breaks, I eventually ran out of water and the final miles to my vehicle were absolute torture.  I had to take numerous breaks, and my clothes began to dry out (not a good sign).  The streams provided some nice cold water to splash on myself to cool down, but I couldn't bring myself to drink it lest I be doomed to writing this review from the seat of my toilet.  The thought of some coconut water I had sitting on ice in a cooler in my car kept me going.  Total time, 5:15.  Don't expect much in terms of views, though there is a small one at the summit of Buzzard Hill, as well as a nice rock outcropping right above Bears Den.  You can also access this trail at Rte 605, or from the parking area along the major highway if you want to save $3.  Bears Den parking lot is also small and could fill up.  Stopped at 7-11 and bar none that Super Big Gulp full of Mountain Dew was the best drink I've ever had in my life!  If you choose to do this, be prepared.  Bring plenty of hydration and know what you're getting into.  It was misery, but I'm stronger today because of it.  Would I do it again, absolutely!

By: JPD Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 03, 2014
My wife and I completed this hike in about 5 hours 20 minutes (including 20 mins rest for lunch) on a partly cloudy, somewhat breezy day in the mid 70s. We saw a total of 10 other people on the trail, but were mostly alone for the duration. Anyone considering this hike should note the following:

1. This is very challenging, much more so than Old Rag. Why? You make 6 steep ascents by the end of the hike, making this roller coaster route both physically and mentally challenging. The final ascent felt like a kick to the face. (For context, my wife and I are in our late 20s, both in great physical condition with lots of hiking experience.)

2. It's rocky and steep the whole way. Bring trekking poles if you can. I have a knee that acts up from time to time, and my poles were really helpful on the second half. Don't do this if you routinely have knee or ankle problems. If you've had a recent injury or a nagging injury, this hike is guaranteed to reactivate it.

3. If it starts to rain hard, I recommend heading back to your car immediately. There are several streams on this trail that would be tough to cross if water levels rose rapidly. Slippery rocks and mud on the steep ascents/descents would also make the hike extremely difficult.

4. Bring $3 cash for the parking fee.

I can't say that we'll do this hike again, but it certainly has merit. If you are training for a hiking/mountaineering trip, this would be a good route to test yourself physically and mentally. Also, if you are sick of the theme park feel of routes like Old Rag or White Oak Canyon, this hike offers a lot of solitude and feels like you are deep in the wilderness. For those coming from DC, it's also much closer than Shenandoah.

(**NOTE** This hike may be longer than 9 miles. Another hiker with GPS on the same route said it was 11.5 miles.)

By: Bryan Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
This was an awesome hike. It was VERY challenging, but very rewarding. It is NON-STOP up and down over roots and rocks, so it is very tough on the knees. I did it with my brother as a conditioning hike to prepare for a trip to the Dolly Sods and to test out some leukotape I got to prevent blisters. Not too many overlooks on the hike, but the overlook at Buzzard Hill is very nice. On a clear day like we had, you can see all the way to Massanutten mountain. I would recommend this hike to people wanting a SERIOUS workout, not so much for views. Raven Rocks is shorter and has an amazing overlook. This hike is more if you like forest and streams.

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.

By: Roscoe P. Coltrane Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 21, 2012
Love this hike for a solid workout. Nothing much to see except nature itself. Today I decided to go as fast as possible to see how quickly I could do it. Only took a couple short breaks (including on the hill) and wrapped it up in just under 3.5 hours. Normally this is a pretty secluded part of the trail but just before I finished I passed a group of about 25 teenagers. Whew -- so glad I wasn't anywhere near them until the end. :-)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, February 25, 2012
My friend and I needed a training hike and started from Bear Den Hostel to Rod Hollow (past Rt 607) - 19-20 miles round trip.  This was my toughest hike ever!!  It was a gut check hike that really shows where you are at when it comes to conditioning and the last 5 miles going back to the hostel I struggled at a slower pace.  Numerous ups and downs made this hike my most challenging and started to wear me down mentally.  Friend coasted a mile ahead of me.  Not much from a stand point of views but if you want a hike that will test your mettle, do this one!!!

By: JV Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 30, 2011
Long out and back hike, with one really nice veiw of the Valley and not much else.  I was hoping to see some fall color, but a fluke snow-storm the night before had stripped the leaves and buried the trail.  Raven Rocks across Rt. 7 was a much more enjoyable hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, September 22, 2011
I do this hike on a regular basis but with 2 vehicles. I generally start at bears den an hike to morgans mill rd (rt605) which is around 6.5 - 7 miles . This is usually a 2.5 hour hike . If you like solitude an a good workout this is a great hike. If you pay close attention when you top the hill above an north of sam moore shelter there is a decent overlook (albeit small) which provides some good views an when you top buzzard hill heading south a small side trail to the right takes you to a decent overlook when the leaves are gone . this is one of my favorite hikes due to the fact that its not that crowded.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 16, 2011
My girlfriend and I had only hiked a few of the mountains in the region before, but we both wanted a challenge.  We were looking for a very difficult trail that did not involve bushwhacking, since both of us are a bit paranoid about ticks.  After reading some descriptions, we decided on Buzzard Hill. 

We did this in July during mid-afternoon, which should also theoretically be the most difficult time to do a hike like this.  However, since you're under a canopy of trees almost the entire trail, the heat is not as overwhelming as it could be otherwise.   In spite of this, Buzzard Hill certainly lived up to expectations in terms of difficulty.  This was a pretty brutal hike, made even harder by the fact that we both ran part of the way up. 

What makes this trail so difficult is a combination of the constant ups-and-downs coupled with the rocky terrain.  If this were dirt or grass, it would have been a bit less difficult, but the rocks made force you to use a lot of different lower body muscles.

While Buzzard Hill certainly didn't disappoint as a physical and mental challenge, the views were a bit on the disappointing side.  There is a rocky overlook near the beginning of the trail and that provides the best view you will see the entire time.  This is especially true if you do this trail in the summer like we did.  Maybe the views are a bit better when the trees are bare in the late Fall or winter.

The top of Buzzard Hill is very non-descript, with no signs or anything of the such.  Many previous reviewers on here have suggested they passed the top without even noticing it.  We nearly did the same thing, but luckily, my girlfriend found it.  However, the view from the top is really not as good as it was from the rocky overlook.   Supposedly, there was a waterfall a little bit further on, but we were not aware of that at the time.

We only encountered a handful of passerbys on the trail.  The bottom of the trail was much more crowded than the middle or top.  In fact, after getting past the first mile or so, we only encountered maybe 4-5 other people the entire time.  Most of them seemed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail, overall, rather than doing this particular hike.

Overall, I'd say consider this hike if you're looking for a physical challenge.   It's a very great lower body workout.  Make sure to bring lots of fluids with you  we both filled up water bottles with fluids and it still wasn't enough.  If you're looking for views, you should probably opt for another hike. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 04, 2010
I had an experience similar to dfdesigner. I was hiking along, expecting to see some marker or promontory which would indicate I reached Buzzard Hill. When it got closer to dusk I had a "am I there yet?" moment. I looked at my phone (thankfully I had the "My Tracks" app tracking my hike - an awesome app for android phones). I was surprised to see I had hiked past Buzzard Hill. So be forewarned: for this hike, the journey really is the destination. You're not doing this one for the views.

This hike was a great work-out. It is strenuous, but totally doable. While i haven't hiked this at any other time than December, the fall strikes me as the perfect season for this hike because a) you gain so much elevation you'd be sweating yourself to death if it was any warmer and b) the views are poor enough without leaves on the trees - you won't see anything at all after they've bloomed. 

The trail is rocky, but not nearly as rocky as its sister hike, Raven Trails.

I'll certainly do this one again. In the future, though, I'll be looking to get a better work out by doing this one faster - maybe even jogging as much of the route as I can.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 31, 2010
http://www.meetup.com/hiking-162/calendar/15212208/ If you're looking for a challenge, this is definitely it.  I tried it last January & had to turn around because it was too much.  Today, however, all 11 of us made it to Buzzard's Hill & back.  Read a review about the waterfall.  Sounds like it would have been worth the extra mileage.  Amazed one of our hikers found the turn to Buzzard's HIll.  We had to call others as they passed it.  Lunch after @ http://www.magnoliasmill.com/ was super.

By: Cara Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 11, 2010
This hike was great if you're looking for a good challenge.  It is VERY difficult, but also very much doable.  The ascents are a bit easier coming back than going.  Sometimes they seem like they'll never end, don't get discouraged!  Make sure to bring plenty of water!  You certainly feel quite accomplished after completing this hike.  It took 6 of us about 5.5 hours to complete - that's with a 15min lunch and breaks at each ascent. 

By: dfdesigner Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 21, 2010
I had been thinking of doing this hike for a while, but had been scared off by the topo map and mixed reviews. In need of a good, tough hike after several months off, I finally decided to give it a try. Yikes! The first couple of miles weren't bad, with several nice stream crossings (hikes always seem better to me with the sound of water in the background) and I was feeling confident. The trouble came at Buzzard Hill which I couldn't seem to find. (I ended up going about 3/4 mile further, but found the waterfall, which was flowing pretty strong. Definitely worth the extra distance, or so I thought at the time). With a little guess work, I finally was able to find Buzzard Hill, but wasn't totally sure I was there because the view wasn't much, even with no leaves on the trees yet. It definitely wasn't the view you get with Raven Rocks or Bull Run Mountain. The trip back was a killer! I'm in decent shape, but had to stop frequently to rest on the ascents it was so bad. With the extra trip to the waterfall and 15 minutes for "lunch," it took me over 6 hours to finish it. By the end, I was kind of hoping the buzzards circling over my head would just finish me off and put me out of my misery. On the plus side, I saw fewer than 10 other people on the trail all day, even on a gorgeous day. Bottom line: if you're looking for a challenge, this is the trip for you. It has its charms, but is more about the workout. I think I'd only go back to camp (there were several spots along the way) or when I really need to push myself.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 12, 2009
A great workout, yes the anti-christ of all trails - no. The views aren't so bad in winter without the leaves. Streams are compelling, partially ice covered.  Just a topping of crunchy snow actually helped make the mounds of leaves underneath less treacherous.  Yes, lots and lots of rocks on the trail, so watch out for your ankles and be sure to have very good hiking shoes.  Waterproof boots a good idea.

By: J. Davidson Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 24, 2009
Nice hike.  Quite a workout.  Harder than Rock Mount in my opinion.  Extremely rocky!  No view at all in late August -- can't see anything for the trees.  Took  me 4.5 hours round trip pluss 15 minutes rest in the middle.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 08, 2008

First of all, I don't like giving any hike two stars.  After all, it's not the trail's fault that I'm now in my 40's and have more than a few extra pounds around the middle.  Also, I knew exactly what I was getting into - the description on this site is, as always, outstanding; and the other comments sum things up pretty well. 

As another reviewer noted, this hike is a challenge.  Unless you are in at least decent shape and your primary objective is to get a serious outdoor stairmaster workout, you should avoid this one.  The views in the summer time are more like peeks than views.  There are countless places in Virginia, starting with Raven Rocks, with better views.   I did Raven Rocks last fall, and for anyone who has done that hike, this one is 2X that in both distance and vertical climb.  The rocks on the trail are just as bad as Ravens Rock, if not worse, and almost never let up.  I can't understate the rock situation on this hike, so please be forewarned. 

So, all that said, I'm glad I did this hike, as I wanted to check it out and it's close by, but I probably won't be coming back anytime soon. 


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 12, 2008
Instead of hiking from Bears Den, I chose to hike this from the other side. Take Ebenezer Rd. and left on Morgans Hill Rd. (There is a small parking area). The trail head has a sign to the AT and to Rt 7. It is a much shorter hike than from Bears Den.  The trail has a beautiful waterfall about half way through. To get a close up view of the waterfall, follow the creek on the left side to reach the falls.  Continue on the trail for another mile or two until you reach Buzzard Hill. Great views from the top although in warmer weather views may be more limited. It appears that there is a small camp site area at the top as well.  Return the way you came. The total hike is less than 2 hours.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Was my first time hiking the trail ever. Had no idea it was THAT rocky and steep in 3 seperate places. I went from VA Route 7 Bears Den Rock south though the 3 massive hills, and bailed on Morgan' Mill Rd and took the flat easy Ebenezer Rd all the way back to the parking lot near Raven Rocks. Totaled 13.1 miles and took 5 hours. Temp 44 degrees and some wind. Was rather nice actually, will be sore.

PS. Whatever you do, DO NOT go left on Morgan's Mill Rd ever. You will be stopped by armed guards as that is a top secret presidential bunker in wartime, complete with 3 helipads and a missile testing range, hence I heard 3 loud explosions just as I turned to go back north on my way back to Route 7.


By: Brandon F. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 16, 2008
It's a shame really that there are so many hints at views, but really they're minimal, even in the winter.

This hike kicked the heck out of me, I'm sure I'll be sore for a couple days. My GPS measured 3500' in elevation change, and doing that in only 4.5 hours over rocky terrain will do that to you.

If you want a challenge moreso than a hike with grand scenery, this is the hike for you.

Also, with the recent rash of reviews for Raven Rocks (geez, all those R's) and the break-ins, it seems this is a safer place to park. But crossing Rte. 7 will probably be the biggest adventure you'll have that day.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 07, 2007

The day was beautiful (temps in the high 60's - low 70's with blue skies). I decided to do this hike due to it being close to home on a day off from work. It is also nice to get another small bit of the AT under my belt.

Anyway, I did the out in 2 hours 5 minutes (once I found the AT from the Bears Den - wasn't too obvious). I did the back in 2 hours 10 minutes and as I am wrinting this, I am very sore and tired. I did also take about 15 minutes for lunch on Buzzards Hill.

The reason for the 3 star rating is that this was a nice hike in the woods. When compared to the GWNF 3 Ridges area (that being a 5 star) this is a 3 star hike. But, any hike on a day off is a good hike.


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 23, 2006
I headed out on this Sunday morning with hopes that rain would not occur and curious as to why this section of the AT is considered some of the toughest to hike in Virginia. Well, about 20 minutes out I was noticing I had to keep a sharp eye on the trail because it was so rocky. Some real ankle biters. about 40 minutes out, the rain started. I decided to make my way to the Sam Moore shelter instead of retreating back to Bears Den. God love the PATC and the volunteers who make shelters possible. Fortunately my pack cover and emergency poncho kept me from being completely miserable. I held up at the shelter for about an hour with another couple until the storm passed. They decided to head back to Bears Den, I opted to continue my goal of reaching Buzzard Hill if not Rt. 605. I made it to Buzzard Hill and sat there wondering if I should bail out on 605 and call it a day. Man!! the roller coaster ride on those hills is murderous. I kept to my commitment of completewing the hike and hiked back to Bears Den. I was pretty exhausted by the time I got back to Bears Den. Now mind you, I think any hike is a wonderful experience. The burst of Spring Green was marvelous. Patches of various colors were everywhere with Dogwood and early pink Honeysuckle. A patch of Bluebells on Tomblin Hill was marvelous. I give this hike a 4 out of 5 due to the tough terrain and seemingly endless climbs. The hike is definetly worth it if you are looking for a tough workout. I would do it again, but stay over at the Moore Shelter, which was very clean and a beautiful setting. As always the map was flawless, but I did refer to my 'Exploring the Appalachian Trail' book a little more than the directions from this site. This puts me at over 50 miles hiked this year which I am thrilled about. Can't wait to review my next hike! 

By: Bob Raevis Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 10, 2005
First of all, I'll mention that I hiked the trail exactly as mapped on the web site on a Sunday morning/afternoon. I found the hike to be quite a difficult 9 mile treck. While it took me only 2 1/2 hours to reach Buzzard Hill from the parking lot, it took me 3 1/2 hours to get back as the upward inclines were clearly wearing me out. Strangely enough, the prettiest sites were at the opposite ends of the trail, one being only 150 yards from the parking lot and the other being from Buzzard Overlook itself. However, in between, the only interesting spots included the 3 or 4 neat streams that I crossed. There were only a few attractive long distance views between the ends of this hike, so the vast majority of the time it seemed to be just a walk through the woods. Personally, I really don't think the scenery was enough to make up for the hike's toughness. During my 6 hours out, I saw about 5 groups of hikers (totaling about 11). The web site rating of 4 for difficulty regarding this trail may be a tab low, especially when contrasted with a rating of 3 for Raven Rocks. While I am glad that I went, I know that there are more interesting trails (like Raven Rocks, just on the other side of Route 7 from Buzzard Hill) on the HIKING UPWARD web site that are both more scenic and less difficult. Buzzard Hill hike is not for young kids. (PS: This is one heck of a great web site !)

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