A publication of Appalachian Voices


A publication of Appalachian Voices


Hidden Treasures #6: Virginia

Mount Pleasant
George Washington National Forest

(540) 291-2188

Mount Pleasant.

Mount Pleasant. Photo courtesy of Christin Healey


In the Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area of George Washington National Forest near Buena Vista, Va., the summit of Mount Pleasant offers a breathtaking sunrise and sunset destination for hikers and beginning backpackers.

This 4.7-mile loop marked by blue blazes follows the Henry Lanum Memorial Trail, traversing Pompey Mountain before reaching the summit of Mount Pleasant.

Near the summit, two overlooks provide an east-facing and west-facing view. Large, flat rocks serve as perfect seats for the spectacular panorama. However, the westerly summit requires a seven-foot rock scramble. Keep an eye out for rare peregrine falcons.

Note that the U.S. Forest Service recommends high-clearance vehicles as the road to the trailhead is steep and rocky.

For an extended trip, combine with the nearby Appalachian Trail at Cole Mountain for a total of 12 miles.

Also within the Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area, the Old Hotel Trail is a 3.2-mile hike that offers views of surrounding peaks and passes through old rock walls from long-abandoned hog farms. For another extended loop, connect with the Appalachian Trail. — By Hannah Gillespie

Guest River Gorge Trail
Jefferson National Forest

(540) 265-5100

Guest River Gorge

Guest River Gorge’s Swede Tunnel. Photo by Bob Lawrence


Located within the Jefferson National Forest is the Guest River Gorge Trail, which is 5.9 miles each way. Winding along the Guest River, this out-and-back trail features views of rapids, waterfalls, huge boulders, and sandstone cliffs and outcroppings.

In addition to the natural treasures, this trail meanders through history by taking visitors through the Swede Tunnel, constructed in 1922. The tunnel and trail is a part of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nationwide network of hiking and biking trails built on unused or abandoned railway paths. The Guest River Gorge Trail has been reclaimed from the old Norfolk Southern railbed and transformed into a beautiful hike along the Guest River.

This trail is not steep, and with a crushed stone surface it is an easy-to-moderate hike and a great option for bikers. Trout fishing, canoeing and kayaking are permitted in the Guest River. — By Sara Crouch

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