Today was a day that I had been looking forward to all trip.
As I mentioned before I have family who used to live in the Charlottesville area and I had a very memorable visit as a child. Now that we were back, I was planning to take Rachael and the pups to an amazing spot that I first experienced more than 20 years ago!
Hiking Humpback Rocks with Dogs
We awoke early to beautiful weather and were able to get on our way with no unforeseen obstacles. If you have been following along on the rest of our trip you would know that this has rarely been the case!
Humpback Rocks is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, just about 30 miles East of Charlottesville. This is a pretty popular hiking spot (you will soon see why) and since we were visiting on a weekend we had to park across the street from the trail near the Visitors Center.
Mountain Farm Trail
In order to access Humpback Rocks from the visitors center, head out of the parking lot onto the Mountain Farm Trail. This .25 mile trail takes you through an outdoor museum of an 1800’s mountain farm before intersecting with the Blue Ridge Parkway. Crossing at this point brings you to the main parking for the Humpback Rocks trail.
Harley and Charlie enjoyed poking around these old buildings, plus they made for some pretty adorable photo ops. I’m told that during much of the year they also have demonstrations of basket making, weaving, and gardening.
Humpback Rocks Trail
Crossing the street at the end of the Mountain Farm Trail leads you onto a small road to the Humpback Gap Parking area. Below is the view as you approach the lot…
On the right side of the parking lot you will find the trail head for Humpback Rocks. Though it is only a 1 mile hike, it gains roughly 800′ in elevation so can be quite strenuous. There are benches periodically on the way up if you do need to stop and rest.
The beginning of the pathway is well groomed and covered in crushed stone. Roughly .5 miles up the trail you will see an offshoot to the left. Taking this is a short (but steep) path to the rocks.
Continuing straight will take you to the same place by looping you around the other side via a mix of stairs and rocky pathways.
I ended up trying both routes and actually thought the steeper was a bit easier – though they are both worth checking out if you have time to do the full loop. Below you can see what the longer trail develops into, so you will need to be comfortable navigating rocky terrain to make it to the top!
I really wouldn’t recommend either path for the elderly or small children.
If you are struggling at any point, take your time and keep with it – the view is worth it! Plus, it’s always a bit easier heading back down, right?!
The View from the Top
Once you have made your way to the top you will see a large outcropping of angled rock. Walk (carefully) onto them for stunning panoramas of the Rockfish and Shenandoah valleys. Make sure to hold onto your dog tight as the edges drop right off!
Charlie was surprisingly comfortable up here and even found a spot to nestle in and enjoy the view.
We took turns staying back with Harley at the base of the rocks since he is not as surefooted as he once was – but he didn’t mind. He received plenty of attention from all the other hikers!
After soaking in the views for a bit, we began our descent and the entire trip took roughly 2.5 hours.
On our way back down to the parking lot we ran into a group of locals who took great affection to Harley and Charlie. (Imagine that!) We chatted a bit and found out that they were headed to a local Ice Cream shop for milkshakes. Well, that sure sounded good after an exhausting hike!
Willy’s Ice Cream
We followed their lead and ended up at the nearby Willy’s Ice Cream – which is located in the parking lot of a Powerhouse Gym. I ordered a chocolate shake and Rach got a Banana, Chocolate, Peanut Butter shake. They were both delicious, and really hit the spot on a hot and muggy day. Not only did Willy’s have a huge selection and super friendly staff, but we loved that their were several large picnic tables where the dogs were welcome to join us.
After our milkshakes we headed back to the hotel to get the little one to bed. You just can’t stay out very late with a 2 month old!
In our search for takeout/delivery we kept seeing rave reviews for a Mexican restaurant called Brazos. After a quick look at their menu (which includes pictures!), we were sold! Brazos offers a huge variety of premium tacos with all sorts of unique flavor combinations. They can be ordered a la carte, so naturally Rach and I got a bit carried away. Hey, it is vacation right?!
These tacos were AMAZING and we would highly recommend! As you can see Charlie was extremely jealous of our dinner…
What we Learned
- 10 vs’ 30 – The hike was definitely a little harder than I remember as a 10 year old! Though Harley did a good job on the hike, we took lots of breaks and just let it take us as long as we needed. If you bring an older dog with you who is not as sure footed or sighted, its OK, just make sure someone is available to hang back with them when you view the rocks.
- Bring Plenty of Water – Humpback Rocks is a strenuous trail, so you will want to make sure to pack plenty of water for both yourselves and your dogs. (We always bring along these collapsible dog bowls for convenience.) There is also a water fountain in front of the visitors center to fill up at before you start your hike!
- Miles traveled: 75
- States passed through: VA
- Gas fill-ups: 0
We can hardly believe it, but tomorrow is the last day of our trip! We are planning to pack in downtown Charlottesville, VA and Shenendoah National Park before a LONG drive home!