Backpacker Magazine Blue Ridge Parkway: Humpback Rocks Loop 

Explore an 1890's mountain farm on this 4.3-mile lasso loop that tackles a 700-foot climb to craggy boulders for expansive parkway views.


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Author: Backpacker Magazine
Date: 1 Oct 2009 7:56:43 PM
Activity: Hiking
State: Virginia (VA)
Distance: 4.55 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 1182 ft
Total Loss: 1170 ft
Net Change: 11 ft
Difficulty: 5 / 10
Tags: Appalachian Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Lyndhurst, Virginia
Rating: Unrated   Rate it

For a bit of history with your hiking, pull into the lot at the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center at Milepost 6. The .25 mile, wheelchair-accessible Mountain Farm Trail begins just south, meandering past an 1890's log cabin and several outbuildings. Costumed re-enactors provide history in the summer. Continue south along the farm's fenceline, looking for black-eyed Susans and other wildflowers on your right. The craggy Humpback Rocks are visible on the mountain just south as you approach the Blue Ridge Parkway.

After crossing the Parkway, pick-up the blue-blazed Humpback Rocks Trail at the south end of the parking lot, then power up the tree-lined mountainside. It's a steep, 700-foot ascent, but  several wooden benches are well-placed for resting, and the path is shady in summer. After climbing a long, steep set of wooden steps, turn left at the junction at .8 miles. Swing slightly right to pick up the most climbable crags. A short scramble ends with wide views of rolling mountains, the Shenandoah and Rockfish Valleys, and a few glimpses of the parkway far below.  

From here, the blue-blazed trail continues south, soon joining the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail (AT). For the loop, follow the AT north, descending on a leisurely set of switchbacks along the mountain's eastern slope before joining the stone-walled Old Howardsville Turnpike, a major trade route in the mid 1850's. After .5 miles, leave the AT at the signed junction, following the blue-blazed trail back to the Humpback Rocks parking lot.

-Mapped by Amy Balfour

TO TRAILHEAD: From I-64 on Afton MOuntain, take Exit 99 to the northern entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Drive 6 miles south to the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center on your right.

Position Format: Datum:
Tracks

Humpback Rks

Distance: 4.55 mi Points: 261
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
SAVE

Points of Interest

HRL001

Location: 37.972587, -78.899355
Park at Humpback Rocks Visitor Center. Walk south to pick up the Mountain Farm Trail.

HRL002

Location: 37.971307, -78.898816
Pass 1890's-era log farmhouse. Plump chickens lurk underneath. Find tobacco, cabbage, squash and corn growing in the nearby garden.

HRL003

Location: 37.970013, -78.898357
Walk through wooden "kissing gate" and continue south along the fenceline to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

HRL004

Location: 37.969318, -78.897626
Cross Blue Ridge Parkway to the Humpback Rocks parking area. Walk to the southern end of the lot to pick up the trail.

HRL005

Location: 37.968332, -78.896600
Humpback Rocks information board. The trail starts climbing soon after the sign.

HRL006

Location: 37.963473, -78.900368
On your left, pass the former trail to the rocks - now blocked by branches. Though it looks inviting, don't take this route.

HRL007

Location: 37.962279, -78.901467
Climb steep wooden steps.

HRL008

Location: 37.960353, -78.900381
Signed junction with spur trail leading to Humpback Rocks. The sign reads "Rock." Turn left. Walk a short distance then jag slightly right to scramble up the most climbable rocks.

HRL009

Location: 37.961306, -78.900634
Top of Humpback Rocks. To finish the loop, return to the trail junction but continue straight, following the blue blazes to the AT.

HRL010

Location: 37.958899, -78.901444
Junction of Humpback Rocks Trail and the AT. Turn left to follow the AT north to complete the loop. Stay right to follow the AT south to the summit of Humpback Mountain.

HRL011

Location: 37.957524, -78.898782
Sharp left.

HRL012

Location: 37.958546, -78.897833
Sharp left.

HRL013

Location: 37.958483, -78.894517
Sharp left.

HRL014

Location: 37.959539, -78.895436
Sharp right.

HRL015

Location: 37.958907, -78.893591
Sharp left.

HRL016

Location: 37.960524, -78.892585
Pass small spring. Water is untreated.

HRL017

Location: 37.962726, -78.891087
Small campsite clearing on the left.

HRL018

Location: 37.962265, -78.890698
Sharp right.

HRL019

Location: 37.960768, -78.890459
Sharp left.

HRL020

Location: 37.965234, -78.887507
Small clearing. Apparent junction with Old Howardsville Turnpike, which joins the AT as it heads north. Look for the remains of stony rock walls as you hike. The turnpike was a well-traveled trade route over the mountains in the mid-1800's.

HRL021

Location: 37.965348, -78.894955
Junction with blue-blazed spur trail to Humpback Rocks parking lot. Veer left at the sign to complete the loop. The AT continues north on the trail to the right.

HRL022

Location: 37.968602, -78.896481
Trail ends at the northern end of the Humpback Rocks parking lot. Continue straight ahead, crossing the Parkway, to return to the Mountain Farm Trail and the Visitors Center lot.

Mountain Farm

Location: 37.971184, -78.898838

Black-Eyed Susans on the Farm

Location: 37.971397, -78.898651

A Backpacker's Favorite Place

Location: 37.970978, -78.898586

Plunder Shed

Location: 37.970889, -78.898640

View of Humpback Rocks

Location: 37.969486, -78.897875

Humpback Rocks Trailhead

Location: 37.968332, -78.896600

Climbing to Humpback Rocks

Location: 37.966073, -78.898527

Junction with Spur Trail

Location: 37.960353, -78.900381

Northern Blue Ridge from Humpback Rocks

Location: 37.961306, -78.900634

Shenandoah Valley from Humpback Rocks

Location: 37.961306, -78.900634

Junction with AT

Location: 37.958899, -78.901444

Trailside Flora

Location: 37.960965, -78.892258

Old Howardsville Turnpike

Location: 37.965072, -78.892700

Butterfly on Bull Thistle

Location: 37.969352, -78.897747

Black-Eyed Susans

Location: 37.969352, -78.897747


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