North Carolina  Virginia
Maryland  West Virginia
All States Hike Map

Hiker Comments for the Peaks of Otter Hike - 1 to 32 of 32   
Average Rating:

By: Spains Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 30, 2019
Intense elevation and many, many stairs. I dispise climbing down stairs. I saw them mentioned in the review, but I thought there were just a few. I was very mistaken. Except for a short ridgeline, the stairs continue throughout the 1,500 feet of elevation. If you dislike stairs and want to see the view, take the bus from the lodge to the top (in season). It's a pretty view, but there are better payoffs that aren't as crowded and don't have any stairs.

By: Scott Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, December 24, 2018
We did this as a sunrise hike this morning--what a great hike! It took our family of seven (youngest is twelve) about 50-60 min to summit from the trailhead and arrived at the top lookout just as the sun peeked over the horizon. With winds howling and temps in the 30's, the warmth worked up from the constant climb was easily lost at the top if not in the shelter of the rocks. The first half was accomplished using flashlights to avoid the various rocks and roots along the way. A very little bit of ice along the way with the major challenge simply being exposure at the top. No real mud to speak of. Great views as expected. Parking is closer if you park at Sharp Top parking lot rather than Visitors Center. Note: Visitors Center closed today due to gov't shutdown and Parkway access from north might be restricted as well. Might be closed more going forward so check Parkway website for info.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 22, 2017
My husband and I went. We're both 31 and in reasonable shape. I run a few miles on the treadmill every day and he weightlifts. This was definitely different for us. However, we both really really enjoyed ourselves and the view from Sharp Top is so very worth it.

By: Jason_Viper Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 4, 2017
I like these hikes. They are short, but sweet, and by sweet I mean tough, about as tough mile for mile as you'll find anywhere in the state. I live close-by and head over to the Peaks whenever I fancy a quick workout.

I wanted to expand on Flat Top a bit. I had always done it from the Parkway, which is longer and not as steep as approaching the summit from Rt.43 I've found out. I finally had the opportunity to hit the trail from 43 a couple times recently, and let me tell you, it's legit! It doesn't really switchback, it kind of just meanders straight up the mountain in most parts. Tough climb and a great workout. Some pretty views up top and a couple rock outcroppings you can get on for views. You're looking at 1600' climb in 1.6 miles...that's steep!

By: Adine A Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 2, 2016
This was a hard trail. 53 year old, pack a day smoker. I took my time, stopped every 30-40 feet and totally enjoyed every moment. It's not about rushing to the destination, it's enjoying the trail as well. Beautiful. 1-2 water bottle hike. Go early to avoid the weekend crush of college kids.

By: Reed and Skyler Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, March 22, 2016
We started the sharp top hike around 10:50 and it was quite solitary. There was two or three other groups in the distance but otherwise we didn't have any issues at all with crowd. The hike wasn't especially difficult but it was challenging at times. We met a few groups on the way down that were only a 1/4 of the way to the top and hiking the easiest part and were already taking breaks and asked us if they were halfway there. So if you are in shape or pace yourself this is a beautiful and fun trail to hike, the summit offers spectacular views.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 16, 2016
My intent was to hike FlatTop but decided to explore Cascade first. Approximately 200 ft into the hike, I encountered what I had surmised to be a gigantic black trash bag in the distance...until it stood up! We eyeballed each other, and he (or she) proceeded to scoop out lunch out of a tree stump. It was then I slowly backed away then ran (not smart, I know) faster than I ever had before in my life. Pretty darn amazing!!!

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, January 7, 2016
Tough workout but due to its length I would give the Sharp Top Hike 3 stars for difficulty...I would also have to lower Solitude to one star as there were dozens of people and dogs on the Sharp Top Trail today. And more on deck when I returned to the parking area. The place is closed in the winter so there are no bathrooms or least I could not find one. Views are magnificent though and definitely a must do for anyone hiking in the mid-Atlantic. I will certainly return for the other two peaks and farmer family remnants.

By: Ken D Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 29, 2015
Spectacular views! I was going to hike Flat Top/Falling Water with a "maybe" for Sharp Top, but I got there early (8:15) and figured I could avoid the crowds. I'm glad I did. The hike up is not too bad but there are some tough sections. The view from the top is well worth it and the view from Buzzard Rocks was pretty good as well. Once I was done I drove over to the Flat Top parking area and did the hike as described elsewhere on HU. Total distance was about 11.3 miles with an elevation gain of over 3000 feet. Tough workout with great payoffs on both mountains.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 26, 2015
We stayed at the Lodge on our vacation and were very intrigued by the possibilities for adventure. We ran into a gentleman the day before our adventure up Sharp Top. He showed us a small plastic container behind a tree and under a rock behind the Polly Woods cabin to record our information and leave a message for others. He said that if we go to the Buzzards Roost trail, just a few feet inside the beginning of the spur to the left there was a little deer trail and if you follow it, you will find the plane wreckage from a B-25. We made our best attempt to follow this trail, only to find nothing. Who knows, maybe I was right there and didn't even have a clue? Other than that, the Sharp Top adventure was very exciting to experience. We are hiking novices, and it was a challenge, but not so much to deter our return to find that plane. Take plenty of water and some light weight snacks. Be sure to wear the proper footwear, ankle support will be a must because the trail is mixed with not so bad areas, and, some somewhat challenging spots to test your agility and stamina. Overall, a great way to spend part of the day and relax. We will be back.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, May 5, 2015
I live fairly close to the Peaks and have been up Sharp Top numerous times. I try to get out and hike somewhere every Tuesday and have taken to speed hiking. Sharp Top is very challenging on the legs with numerous steps and higher rocks. Take care coming down as many twisted ankles have occured (one girl was airlifted today for a broken ankle) so foot placement is crucial. For a novice this hike can take anywhere from 1 1/2-2 hours up, less coming down. Experienced hikers can shave that down. Speed hiking up and running down can get it done in under an hour total (my personal record is 38 minutes up, 20 minutes down). I have not hiked Flat Top yet, but plan on doing this next week from the Parkway lot (the side with switchbacks).

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 22, 2015
I started at the Flat Top Overlook parking area and first hiked to Fallingwater Cascades. The water level was much higher than normal. This was my first visit to the falls but a photographer told me the falls are very low flow during the summer. Visit after a rain event and it will look great. The main drop is ~50 feet but it is a double slide and likely ~100 ft total, although you cannot see the upper portion from the base. The bridge at the lower crossing was washed away in 2012, but this should be a straightforward rock hop in everything but extremely high levels of water. Unlike the trailhead for Sharp Top, which was full with approximately 40 cars, there were only 3 cars parked at the Flat Top Overlook. The northern trailhead for Flat Top is longer in mileage but far easier on elevation gain. The trail switchbacks 2.1 miles on an easy grade until you get to Cross Rock. The rock is a very unusual formation but has no views and the short spur trail is very steep. The final half mile to Flat Top is a bit steeper but not a big deal. On the flat summit I found one set of boulders with open views west, and another set on the east side. I looked around for a prominent view of Sharp Top on the south side but didn't find one. My guide book said 0.1 mi down the trail but I didn't explore. On the return I bushwhacked through the mountain laurel to the top of The Pinnacle, I didn't see any signs of a side trail to these rocks. It offers identical views north and east, but at least you get a view south of Flat Top.

By: OBWAN KANOBIE Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 26, 2014
This hike ranks right up at the top with any hike I have ever been on, (which is a lot). The view is spectacular once you reach the summit, 360 degrees all around. Even though it was a beautiful day, there were not many other hikers on the trails...great overall day. Excellent cardiovascular workout to boot!!

By: Ann Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 7, 2013
This was awesome...we had the entire trail to ourselves due to the national parks shutdown.  The parking lot was open, so  we parked and hiked up to the top. It was a fairly easy hike until about midway-ish toward the summit, then lots of steps and watch your step- but still not too bad. The only other living souls we saw were wild turkey and deer...lots of them. I am certain based on the breathtaking views at the top that this would normally be a very packed trail, we lucked out having it to ourselves on an beautiful October day!!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Made the hike with my girlfriend.  It was my first time to the top of Sharp Top in quite some time.  It was a gorgeous clear day.  We could even make out the "scab" and Snoflex landmarks in Lynchburg on Liberty Mountain!  Gorgeous views at the peak for roughly 270 degrees!  It was a bit cool on the way up because most of the hike on the way up is under tree cover.  Once to the peak, it was warmer in the sun, except there was a lot of wind on one side of the mountain (was kinda bizarre).  Right out the gate, we were probably going a bit too fast for the incline because we were out of breath about 30 minutes into the hike.  After that, and a brief break, we took our time a bit and it was more relaxing.  The trip back down was actually kinda difficult with some long steps down, but nothing too bad.  Overall, it was a nice trip and got my girlfriend and I interested in doing more hikes this fall.  See you all on the trails!

By: Aaron Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 30, 2012
My friend and I did Flat Top first and then attempted Sharp Point. Flat top was very windy and cold but the view is beautiful. We came down after lunch to go up Sharp Top to only make it 4/5 of the way up due to extreme ice on the trail. Everything had about a 1/2 inch or more of ice on it. I am going to go back in the spring to finish the trail.

By: Brandon Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 11, 2012
My girlfriend and I did this hike on a Sunday, when the weather was quite nice. It was a pretty tiring hike, the first mile is pretty much straight up, with a few switchbacks going up to the top of the mountain.

With that said, I think what spoiled our experience was that there was so many people on the trail. From what I had read here I didn't see too much mention of this, but when I got to the parking lot I knew there was going to be a lot of trail traffic. With how short the trail is, you were pretty much always in sight of another family or group that you were coming up on or was coming up behind you. Also the summit had a lot of people, and I saw more dogs than I could count.

While the views are nice, it isn't quite what made the experience. I think, for us, we prefer more solitude and a longer hike. We were going to do Flat Top right after but we were going to run out of daylight.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, December 26, 2011
I only had time to hike one trail. I chose the Flat Top Mountain Trail, because it's historical link to the Washington Monument. The weather was really comfortable, around 40 F and sunny. The trail was dry. It's not a easy hike. It takes certain physical fitness. But if you take it easy, you can make it without problem. It's a pleasant experience.

However, even it's the late of December, other than the evergreen, there were no left on the trees. The views along the trail were still somehow blocked by the tree. There is no wide open view along the trail. Therefore, I was kind of disappointed. I wished I chose the Sharp Top Mountain Trail instead of this one.

By: Octavio Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, December 25, 2011
Just hiked Sharp Top Mountain trail on christmas day, but had hiked it twice in the past month. Its a really nice hike, and when you get to the top the view is extraordinary. in total i'ved hiked it five times and would love to hike it next year in the spring or summer. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wow! Hiked Sharp top Mtn. on the winter solstice, and what an amazing experience!

By: Gaurav Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 11, 2011
Hiked to the top of Sharp Top. Short but strenuous. 360 views from the top are amazing. Will definitely think of heading there in the fall.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 26, 2011
We love peaks of otter hike the views are awesome absolutely. We are gonna go up there again soon maybe 2 weekends from now. I am an Iraq veteran and I heard that there is a B-52 sight up by there somewhere but nobody seems to know where it is. I would like to see the sight and take a little flag up there for those men, they paved the way for our generation to keep fighting. If anyone can help me i would be very thankful, I do not have gps or a topo map of the area so grid digits and lat and long I won't be able to use. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Oh and are there any hikes in the area with waterfalls  other than the cascades that we could make a day of ? Thank you again.

By: Brian Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 13, 2011
I hiked Sharp Top with a group of 10 others as part of a weekend camping trip with a group from the Central Virginia Trailblazers.  Starting from the Visitors' Center, we crossed the BRP to get to the trailhead and proceeded from there.  For lunch we took the spur trail to Buzzard Rock and ate there.  We had the place to ourselves for the most part.  After lunch we continued on to the peak and took another break to enjoy the view of Lake Abbott.  We could see some ominous storm clouds rolling in, so we hurried back down to avoid the rain.  Back at the trailhead, we stopped at the Nature Center to check out the reptiles.  Luckily the rain held off until later that night.  More info on the Central Virginia Trailblazers:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 23, 2011
My Fiance and I hiked Sharp Top over the summer. She is a newbie when it comes to hiking and found it rather strenuous but very enjoyable... Great hike and the views are definitely worth. Beware of wildlife, She and I saw a beautiful black bear on our way down the mountain

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 29, 2011
My fiance and I hiked Harkoning Hill this past weekend. I am pretty out of shape so hiking the peaks made me a little nervous. We only saw 2 other couples on our hike up and down. We started at the visitors center and walked along the BRP away from the visitors center and towards the lodge to the trailhead. You can also start behind the visitors center through the ampitheatre. Both of the couples we passed were going this way, I'm not sure which way was "easier" uphill-wise. I got a good workout and would do it again. The overlook was kind of disappointing with no clear view of anything from the top, just a few faraway glipses through the trees. Took a few cool shots trying to "hold up" balance rock. All in all it was a nice hike with not a lot of foot traffic (especially considering it was memorial day weekend).

By: TMB Richmond Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 17, 2011
My 11 year old son has declared Sharp Top his favorite hike. We also went over to Buzzard's Roost to climb the outcrop of rocks.  We arrived at Sharp Top parking lot around noon. The parking lot was half full. By the time we got down around 3:20 the lot was full, though there was plenty of parking at the visitor center across the road.  I would not recommend this hike to anyone who is not steady on their feet. Lots of rocks, roots, and large steps up/down. The hike up will get you sweating in no time, but the trail is interesting enough to keep most families happy. There are lots of rocks to climb, a small stream that sounds like it's mostly running underground, and a great view at the top. It is worth the short hike to Buzzard's Roost to climb the boulders. We sat and watched birds fly below us. I would only attempt Buzzard's Roost with children that aren't impulsive and will listen to you. It's not a huge amount of rock scrambling at Buzzard's Roost, but a unique opportunity to climb up to a beautiful veiw.

By: Bent Pole Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 10, 2011
Spent the weekend at the Lodge with my husband and 20-month-old son. We had a blast and found the place to be friendly and welcoming to children.

Did Sharp Top on Saturday, Flat Top on Sunday, with our son in the backpack. HU directions are great as usual.  Weather was foggy for Sharp Top, but it was beautiful anyway. Flat Top was probably my favorite hike out of all the hikes I've ever done... nice combination of beauty, difficulty, nature, and isolation. There were clouds in the valleys that day but sun on the mountaintops, so we got to look down at a sea of clouds with mountains peaking out. Breathtaking!

One thing about Sharp Top is that it is more toddler-friendly... the top viewing areas are set up to be relatively fall-proof for a reasonably behaved child. :-)

Great trip... stay at the Lodge and make a weekend out of it!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 29, 2011
My group, 18 strong, tackled Sharp Top in the morning and Flat Top in the afternoon....Sharp Top was beautiful with ice hanging from the trees and a clear deep blue sky, snow drifts of up to a foot were found around the top, watch your descent as it's very studs are recommended.....Flat Top was longer and harder after the morning hike, but worth it.....we were first on the mountain after the snow, so we had to break snow drifts pretty much the whole way, beautiful at the top.....slushy on the way down, so if you go, again watch your step, very slippery....great mid-winter hike.....

By: Ken Knott Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, December 24, 2010
Flat Top, Wonderful Hike. The sky was beautiful. The snow increased from a few inches to 6-12" up near the top. Not another soul but myself and another loan set of (huge) footprints. I was convinced for a time that there was one set going up and another set of bear prints following....but no human remains were to be found at the top...  :) The view was spectacular...The hike was fairly challenging in the snow really wearing my legs out but I loved every minute of it. Highly recommended for beauty and contrast Sharp Top even on Christmas Eve was swarming with hikers....not my cup o' tea...

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 31, 2010
Sharp Top Hike
This hike was very easy compared to the Old Rag hike a couple days earlier.  We parked near where the bus picks up and headed up the trail on the left at about 7am.  We saw 3 people on the way up and quite a few on the way down.  We decided since we were still recovering from the old rag hike to take the bus trail back down and spotted a few turkeys along the way.  They do not allow you to take the bus trail up and down but we figured since we were coming down before it started we were fine.  For those that can't handle the hike, you can always take the bus near the top and then hike the quarter mile to the top.  Then take the bus back down.

We enjoyed the trail with lots of steps and even some hand railing.  It's definitely a gain in altitude very quickly.  According to my GPS Garmin Watch we travelled 4.4 miles round trip.  Remember it's about 1.5 miles to the summit, more if you decide to go to the Buzzards Roost which is well worth it and quite beautiful.  We actually got to see Ravens dipping and diving just below us from the buzzard's roost.  We enjoyed a nice breakfast up top after taking about 100 photos then headed back down via the bus route.

Our Trail of Old Rag and Sharp Top Mountain and Abbott Lake can be found here:

Old Rag was the first hike of about 9.4 miles on the chart, and this hike was from 19 miles to 23.71 miles.  The others were loops around Abbot Lake which is very easy and relaxing.  The views were amazing, and there is a shelter at the very top for whatever reason.  They have little markers on the walls at the summit that point out different towns, mountains, valleys, etc and tell you their distance away.  Be prepared to swat some flies at the top of sharp top because the flies were brutal the morning we went, but at least they weren't horse flies.  We had quite a bit of wind gusts up top.  Don't let your kids climb the rocks, because it's quite a dropoff.

By: Frank Christine Ian & Ryan Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 19, 2009
We grownups and our two teenage sons hiked the Sharp Top trail on a steamy August morning.  The story goes that Sharp Top was once thought to be Virginia's tallest peak, and thus was the source for a stone destined for the Washington Monument.  If so, climbing Sharp Top was not unlike climbing the Monument three times -- lots of big rock stairs!  But the views on the way up and down were grand, with four and five mountain ranges in view from the busy summit.  Definitely worth a half-day trip from the Smith Mountain Lake - Bedford - Lynchburg area.  On your drive back down to Bedford, follow the signs to Gross' Orchard for a wide selection of in-season produce to power up for the rest of your day.

By: Jason Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 18, 2009

Probably my second favorite hike in Virginia behind Old Rag ... but it also has the same weekend/summer/nice day crowd issue. Hiked it this past Saturday on a perfect spring day. My original intention was to do both Sharp top and Flat top back-to-back but two things changed that. First, I spent so much time climbing on every rock outcropping available - this is a fantastic playground of rock formations (beyond just the summit, there are 3 other very good spots including Buzzards Roost). Second, I went searching for the B25 plane (the reason I did this hike in the spring with little foliage). The plane is so scattered that I didnt realize how far down the slope I went until I had to hike back up ~ 300 yards at 45 degrees (plus the final leg to the ridge). All in all I spent about 4 hours on Sharp Top mountain and had a smile on my face the whole time. The views are outstanding, but the rock formations really give it it's charm. The hike up is fairly intense for beginner to even intermediate hikers, but it is also one of the more interesting "short" trails (rocks, steps, walls) Ive done.

I put Sharp top just behind Old Rag as the must-hike in Virginia - it is fairly short though, so enjoy everything it has to offer (or hike Flat top right after).

Records 1 to 32 of 32
about us | contact us | terms of use | © 2000 - 2023