Rock Castle Gorge – (11 mile Loop – Strenuous but worth it) – This loop is amazing. I can’t believe it took me so long to get out here.
There are a couple different hikes you can do for shorter mileage, but I would recommend getting it all in, in one visit.
We parked at the Rocky Knob campground. When you pull in there is a road “Park Ranger Office” to the left. We pull in there and park under the big tree, but you can park anywhere in that area if you are hiking the loop trail. To get to the trail you need to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and go through the fence. We’ve taken the loop both directions. Both are tough workouts and I can’t suggest a better option.
You can also park at the bottom of the gorge off of route 8. After you go under the Blue Ridge Parkway and get to the bottom of the mountain you will want to look for the CCC camp road on the right. Take this road to the end and you can access the trail there. You can pick either direction depending on what type of hike you want.
From the Rocky Knob Campground – Head across the Parkway and start the hike. I’d go left. This will take you through the woods for a mile or so and then down the gorge. This is a steep section. Don’t trip on any roots, because it may take a few days for anyone to find you or even to get to you. At the bottom of the gorge the trail will run along a creek. This is a nice section. The trail will soon intersect with a gravel road (this is at the old CCC Camp). This road continues to run along the creek and starts out as a gradual climb and then begins to get steeper and steeper. After about 3 miles on the road the trail will head off to the right. This section continues to climb, goes through an odd section of boulders and then up to a cow pasture (this will have wildflowers in the spring and raspberries in the summer). From the cow pasture the trail will head in and out of the woods, around a BRP overlook or two and then up to Rocky Knob. This peak has some very nice views of the valley below and beyond. Continue on down from the knob, back into another cow pasture, and back to your car.