That sweet fall chill is in the air, and there’s nothing better than lacing up our hiking boots and hitting the trail after a day of kombucha brewing! Here are three favorite hikes from our team to inspire you to new heights this season. Cheers to getting outside!
From Sarah Wood, Tasting Specialist: Sharp Top
This is one of the most popular hikes at Peaks of Otter, a great spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway less than an hour and a half south of our Brewery & Taproom. Whether you’re camping at the beautiful Peaks of Otter campground or just passing through on a Parkway fall-foliage cruise, Sharp Top is a must-do hike.
Beginning very close to the campground, the trail to Sharp Top is a moderately difficult 2.6-mile out-and-back. As you can tell from its name, this hike is all about climbing: you’re headed for a summit with jaw-dropping 360-degree views. Sunrise and sunset are especially rewarding times to tackle this trail.
It starts out as a gravel pathway that’s fairly level, rising slowly through the forest before crossing a paved road. Soon, though, you’ll get into some more serious climbing on classic rock-and-root trails. After all, Sharp Top itself boasts a 3,862-foot elevation—it’s one of the three peaks that give Peaks of Otter its name, and it can be seen from miles around. So as you’re making your way upwards, expect a good workout!
Several series of stone steps will carry you upward. Fit hikers can reach the summit in an hour or less; beginners, or those who just want to savor the views, may need longer.
Near the top of the trail, an optional 600-foot fork leads to Buzzard’s Roost, another high point. But if it’s Sharp Top you’re after, stay left and keep on truckin’. You’ll know you’ve made it when you reach the old stone building carefully constructed amongst the summit’s huge boulders. Just a few more steps and you’re drinking in panoramic vistas that reach in every direction—truly a Blue Ridge moment to treasure.
From Doug Gellman, Director of Operations and AT Thru-Hiker: Cedar Cliffs
Here’s a very easy, mellow walk that could be perfect as a first family hike. Although you’ll be following the storied Appalachian Trail, more than 2,000 miles long, to reach Cedar Cliffs you’ll walk less than half a mile to get a nice reward—an expansive view to the west over the Shenandoah Valley. In the fall, every week brings a new twist on this landscape as the colors slowly change.
You’ll park at the Dripping Rock overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway—it’s at milepost 9.6, about 15 minutes from our Brewery & Taproom. Look for the white blazes of the AT and head south.
You’re following the ridge’s contour here, so there’s not much elevation change. Even the littlest (or least experienced) hikers should be able to keep up. After just four-tenths of a mile, you’ve arrived—check out that classic Blue Ridge scenery, with layers of mountains one behind the other to the west. This would be a perfect place to bring easy picnic food, kombucha, and friends and family for a sunset dinner.
From here, it’s an easy walk back to the car. But of course, if you didn’t get your fill of hiking, the AT just keeps on going.
From Ethan & Kate Zuckerman, Co-Founders: White Rock Falls
White Rock Falls is one of our favorite family hikes. Just 30 minutes south of the Brewery & Taproom along the Blue Ridge Parkway, it strikes just the right balance for kids and grownups: a little challenge, lots of payoff, and plenty of beauty and fun.
Start by parking at the Slacks Overlook, milepost 20 on the Parkway. Cross the road and walk north a short distance until you see the trail descending from the shoulder. Before you know it, you’re meandering through a lovely forest of mountain laurel and rhododendron that might inspire kids to keep an eye out for fairies. Where the trail meets streams, wooden bridges make picturesque crossings.
An ancient rock outcropping makes a lookout point on the left as the trail gains elevation—a great place to stop for a minute and enjoy the view. But the best part of this hike actually comes at the low end, where White Rock Falls spills 40 feet over a cliff and creates a magical forest room, ringed with boulders. Kids will love splashing in the shallow water and climbing up to the small rock niches above the creek.
From here, you can either return the way you came for a 3-mile out-and-back, or you can cross the creek and join up with the Slacks trail for a 5-mile loop.
A tip from us: put your kids in a backpack or some hiking boots, offer yummy trail snacks and sips of kombucha at the top of tough climbs, and you might be surprised how much hiking they’re capable of!