OK, this page is for all of you that love a good climb. Over the year’s Gina and I have trained for quite a few high elevation races that have a lot of elevation gain. Getting ready for those races has had us looking for some big climbs with the lowest amount of mileage. I want to have this page be filled with the best options from around the Roanoke Valley.
- Needs to be a route of 10+ miles – If you have a good route that is less, send it my way and I may create a second page.
- Trails are preferable to roads, gravel or grassy Forest Service Roads are preferable to asphalt.
- You’ll need to send me the Garmin Connect or Strava link for the details.
- Must be a loop or out and back option.
- You can’t do the same trail twice unless it is in the opposite direction.
- The route should be within an hours drive time from Roanoke.
Routes (the bigger the number the greater the fun);
343 – 3569ft/10.4 Miles – Peaks of Otter – This is part of group of trails that are a favorite of mine. You’ll find a route with more miles below. You can park at multiple locations to get to the Flat top trail. Once to Flat Top, you are in for some serious climbing in a short distance. This route consists of going over Flat Top, a loop of the Fallingwater Cascades and then back over Flat Top – https://www.strava.com/activities/678077055
331 – 3448ft/11 Miles – Haven’s Wildlife Management Area – Bradshaw Road – trailhead is, on the left, 5 miles from route 311 – Up Elevator Shaft, across the ridge to Big Bad Wolf, down to Mason’s Creek and then back – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1289418601
318 – 6345/19.9 Miles – Andy Layne Trailhead – 779/Catawba Road – You will cross the street and head up the Catawba Valley Trail to the ridge of North Mountain. Once to the ridge you will head right and take N. Mtn to Stone Coal Gap (fireroad), cross this road and head up on the Ferrier Trail to Lick Branch Trail. Take Lick Branch Trail to it’s end at a gated fire road. Once there you will retrace your steps back to 779 – https://www.strava.com/activities/1029881516
309 – 5559ft/18 Miles – At at Caldwell Fields – This is an AT spur trail, Sarver hollow, and AT route. Take Sarver hollow to the AT then travel South to Kelly Knob. Once there enjoy the view and then head back the way you came. For extra climbing, you can park at Caldwell Fields and take the FR up to the start of the Sarver Hollow Trail. Find Route 621, Craig Creek Road, off of route 311. Go 12 miles to west on Rt. 621. then turn right onto the FR across from Caldwell Fields. Drive to power line crossing. There is parking on the right – https://www.strava.com/activities/487500779
277 – 6270ft/22.65 Miles – North Mountain – Parked at Dragon’s Tooth – This run was done for this very purpose. Get the most elevation in the least amount of miles – Up North Mtn to Turkey Trail, down and then back up Turkey, backtrack to Grouse Trail – down and then back up Grouse, backtrack to Deer Trail, down and then back up Deer, backtrack back to 311 – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1282193593
271 – 4697ft/17.35 Miles – Peaks of Otter – This is a favorite of mine. You can park your car and hit these 4 different areas while using your car to restock and refuel a couple times. The loop consists of Fallingwater Cascades, Flat Top, Harkening Hill and Sharp Top. You pick the order for all the fun you want – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/851595606
270 – 7467ft/30.4 Miles – Catawba Run Around – This is a loop of the AT and North Mtn that includes Tinker Cliffs and McAfee’s Knob, and I usually choose to skip Dragon’s Tooth by taking the Boy Scout Trail, but you could get more elevation and miles by including the tooth – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1246929578
270 – 2904ft/10.75 Miles – Rock Castle Gorge Loop – Outside of Floyd on the Blue Ridge Parkway – This is a loop trail that you can start from multiple spots – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/625355306
236 – 5729ft/24.23 Miles – Troutville AT – Similar to the one below, from the AT parking lot in Troutville, take the AT north to Black Horse Gap and then retrace your steps back – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/417728841
223 – 6309ft/28.33 Miles – Daleville AT – Park at the 220 Park and Ride and take the AT north to Black Horse Gap and then retrace your steps back. This is one of my yearly November long runs – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/637189654
211 – 2579ft/12.2 Miles – Carvins Cove – From Timberview – Up Trough, down buck, Hotel, Up Hi Dee Ho, down Gauntlet, up Horse Pen, Up Royalty, down Trough – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1291034444
214 – 2804/13.1 Miles – Glenwood Horse Trail – From the Day Creek day use area – Up to Black Horse Gap, N. on the AT, backtrack from the 2nd overlook to Spec. Mines Trail, down Spec. Mines to the Gravel road, left on the gravel road to the 4-way, up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Black Horse Gap, down to the parking area – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/797337919
208 – 2919ft/14 Miles – Carvins Cove – From Bennett Springs – Rattlin’ Run to the powerline, from here, head straight up the mtn for around .35 miles to the AT, take the AT north over Tinker Cliffs and down to Sawmill Branch Trail, down Sawmill Branch to Arrowhead, take a right on Arrowhead to a right on Happy Valley, right on Songbird, right on Rattlin’ Run and back to the parking lot – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/658697469
Honorable Mentions from beyond the Noke;
339 – 7636ft/22.5 Miles – Tyro VA – Three Ridges and the Priest – This is a common Ultra trail run. Take the AT north over 3 Ridges to the Mau-har Trail, take the Mau-har, back to the AT and where you started. Then go up and down the Priest – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/600266422
271 – 7367ft/27.15 Miles – Swoope VA – The Wild Oak Trail Loop – This is a great training loop if you are looking from some serious climbing. Part of the loop is on the Grindstone 100 course – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/838193296
194 – 4114ft/21.2 Miles – Just under the required 200+ per mile, this loop is a favorite of mine. It has the same start as one above; Glenwood Horse Trail – From the Day Creek day use area – Up to Black Horse Gap, N. on the AT, backtrack from the 2nd overlook to Spec. Mines Trail, down Spec. Mines to the Gravel road, right on the gravel road to the Hammond Hollow Trail, Up HH to the AT, north on the AT to the dirt road at Bobblett’s Gap, take a right, going under the BRP and continue another 3ish miles to a right onto the Glenwood Horse Trail back to the parking area – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/675820335