Hiking to Buzzard Rocks Overlook, Virginia

Rocky and beautiful!

When I find time to myself my first choice is to go hiking. Yesterday I found I had a good chunk of the day so I spontaneously decided to hike to Buzzard Rocks Overlook off of the Appalachian Trail. I had read about the hike a few times and decided it was time. I originally had thought it would make for a good evening hike to watch the sunset but after experiencing it - I have come to decide against that.

The portion of the Appalachian Trail that runs near Route 9 in western Virginia just on the border of West Virginia. There is parking at Keys Gap and once you cross Rt. 9 and head south, you are on your way to Buzzard Rocks. This portion of the Appalachian Trail isn't the most picturesque. You can hike miles with no view and all that is around you is woods and ferns. While that isn't a bad view, it can get monotonous. However, on days when you need to clear your head, it is just perfect.

Soon after I started I witnessed a tree falling not far from me. I'm not sure if you're ever seen a tree fall in the forest, on its own, but it is overwhelming. It is loud. Powerful. And you look around to make sure one won't fall on you. I stood there for a moment to see if an animal would run from the area (in case it was the reason it fell). Nothing happened. We returned to the silence. This is the 2nd time I have been witness to a tree falling in the forest and let me assure you that if I wasn't there, it would still make a sound.

I continued on over the rocky trail. There is a gradual elevation change that may get your heart rate up but it isn't difficult. I had anticipated running quite a bit of the trail but while I grabbed the correct socks, I absent-mindedly grabbed my hiking shoes - not my trail running shoes. I ran here and there but mostly just hiked as quickly as I could.

There is a place where if there were no trees, it would provide a beautiful overlook. This is not the time of the year to see anything. I would think that late fall or winter would be perfect. The leaves off the tree would reveal the Loudoun Valley in all its splendor. makes note to return

It takes about 3 miles to reach the Buzzard Rocks Overlook. I don't want to say I was underwhelmed but I was. Again, if there had been no leaves the view would have been more impressive. There was a portion of the rocks where you can definitely see out to the Shenandoahs. And it is a great view but there just isn't very much of it.

I'm not sure if you scramble over more of the rocks if the view changes or juts out more. I was by myself and do try to stay somewhat safe. I have seen some photos from the area that look much different than where I was but I think there is a different trail that leads up to here. Perhaps along that trail are different views.

I took some time to sit on a rock in the sun. I had encountered a woman that was busy talking on her phone further back away from me. I have never thought about taking or making a call while in a location like this. It begs for solitude and that's what I give it. The time on that rock was rejuvenating. It had been a stressful weekend full of emotions and that rock and view refreshed me. I may have shed a few tears but the release was needed.

Eventually, I gathered my things and headed back the way I came. I had a goal of running back as much as I could. And I did. For once, it felt great to run. It is difficult to go very fast on the trail as it is full of rocks. If I had gone any faster, I would have fallen as I tripped often or slipped on rocks. Interestingly enough, as I ran, I passed a solo male hiker who was also on his phone. Two people on their phones in a location full of silence. Strange.

I am definitely anxious to head back to Buzzard Rocks in the fall. I will wait for the leaves to change color and fall off a bit and see how the view changes.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Jenn Gonzalez

I live the crazy life of a full time working, suburban mom of two. It can get stressful. The times I can get out into nature settle me. That moment, when you're standing among the mountains with only the sounds of nat...