AT Hike: A Strenuous 9 Miles with Portion of Roller Coaster and Buzzard Hill

  • January 4, 2014 · 10:00 AM
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A Strenuous 9 Mile Appalachian Trail Hike: Part of the Infamous AT "Roller Coaster" Plus Buzzard Hill

Take note that although this hike is in Virginia, it is ONLY 1.5 hours away from our carpool location! This is 1.25 hour less of a drive than Skyline Drive and SNP is for most of us.

This stretch of the AT seesaws in and out of a succession of hollows and over numerous side ridges as it crosses through an area once dominated by Confederate Col. John Singleton Mosby.  During the Civil War, Mosby and his troops, the Confederate Rangers (also known as Mosby's Confederacy), lived in farmhouses throughout this area.  Mosby's reputation for eluding Union soldiers earned him the nickname The Grey Ghost. The AT climbs to several high lookouts that make it easy to see how someone familiar with the terrain could keep an undetected eye on the enemy.

Several steep, rocky ascents make this one of the most difficult sections of the AT in the northern half of Virginia. There are excellent views of the Shenandoah Valley, from Bears Den Rocks, Lookout point, and Buzzard Hill, while the dark, cool Fent Wiley Hollow includes a great variety of mature timber and a chance to cool down before climbing the next hill.

The trail intersects several creeks throughout the section. At about mile 4, the AT begins a 50-ft. climb up to the summit of the spectacular Buzzard hill. As you climb, look and, more importantly, listen, for passing owls, which are known to shelter in the dim hollow. At the top of Buzzard Hill, a side trail on the right leads 40 yards to a rocky ledge. The mountainous view to the west makes a perfect backdrop for lunch or just a spot to rest for a bit.

Trail Information

Nearby City: Bluemont, VA

Length: 9 total miles

Trail Type: Out and Back

Scenery: Mountain Woodlands, Buzzard Hill, AT Roller Coaster, steep slopes, farmland views

Exposure: Mostly shady, less so in winter

Trail Surface: Chiefly dirt and rocks (both loose and embedded); some grassy patches

Skill Level: Strenuous

Elevation: 3000 feet of total vertical gain

Duration: 4.5 - 5.5 hours but varies according to pace.

Natural History Features: Bears Den Rocks; Lookout Point; Buzzard Hill

Facilities: None

NOTE: Please only sign up for this hike if you are up to this level hiking.  There will be about 3000 feel of total elevation gain in just 9 miles. This is part of the infamous, fun, yet challenging AT "Roller Coaster" and is a must for anyone who can hike at this level. So get up and get your rear in gear and come on out for good times!

Weather Information

We hike rain or shine! Click here to see an up to the minute forecast for where we will be hiking.

Gear Information

Here are some suggestions for what to wear and what not to wear for our hikes.

Carpool Information

There are 2 carpools for this hike!

Baltimore Area Carpool

To carpool or caravan from the Baltimore metro area, you can arrange to meet at Savage Station. Click here for directions to Savage Station.  Use the comment section to discuss carpooling with other members.

DC Area Carpool

To carpool or caravan from the metro DC area, you can arrange to meet at the Centerville Park and Ride. Click here for information and directions to the Centerville location.  Use the comment to discuss carpooling with other members.

If you can drive or want to carpool from additional locations, please post your location in the comment section below. For those who need a ride, reach out to the drivers. Make friends, and support the environment - by just offering a ride!



Directions to the Trailhead

Click Here for Directions to Where We Meet for This Hike!

Hike is at 10:00 a.m.

Carpool meetup time at Savage is 8:30 a.m.

Carpool meetup time at Centerville is 9:00 a.m.

Fido is not welcome on this hike without the leaders permission due to the hikes difficulty

Bill P.:[masked]

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  • Dwayne J.

    No pictures? Dang...

    January 5, 2014

    • Bill P.

      Maybe it was too cold for pics. They would have been nice because there was a solid 3-4 inches of snow.

      January 7, 2014

  • Tom

    Sorry - got pulled away while in route to trailhead.

    January 4, 2014

  • Korey W.

    I'm still up for the hike, carpooling from centreville for any takers, I'll be the one in a gray jeep patriot

    January 4, 2014

  • Edward

    I still plan to do the hike, but I will not carpool. I am now planning on skiing afterwards. So I will meet you all at the trailhead.

    January 4, 2014

  • Katherine I.

    The low temps will not allow ice to melt. And I don't own ice cleats. It's going to be 25 tomorrow morning

    January 3, 2014

    • Steven M.

      Shawn, I'm sorry but I have to cancel on the hike tomorrow. I'm just not feeling 100% and I have a backpacking trip in the Catskills this Thursday so I just want to play it safe. I'll catch you the nest time.

      January 3, 2014

    • Edward

      FWIW - It's snow out there, not ice, but there is 5" of it on the ground I have heard.

      January 4, 2014

  • shawn m.

    Is anyone still meeting at Grosvenor?

    January 3, 2014

    • shawn m.

      I haven't been there either but I'll be in a white 4-runner and should be there at 8:30.

      January 3, 2014

    • Steven M.

      i'll be in a blue Honda minivan. see you tomorrow.

      January 3, 2014

  • Michael

    I'm traveling from Reston Town Center if anyone need a ride from from the Reston area.

    January 3, 2014

  • Roger

    Hi, Is anyone interested in carpool from Bethesda - Rockville?

    December 29, 2013

    • Roger

      Hi, I have to cancel because I don't have appropriate gear for the new weather conditions. Sorry about this.

      January 3, 2014

    • Kelley H.

      Same with me.

      January 3, 2014

  • shawn m.

    I'll be brining my 4x4 so if there is anyone with a vehicle that isn't snow worthy you hitch ride with me.

    January 3, 2014

  • Kiki

    Cancelling because of the weather conditions. Sorry!

    January 3, 2014

  • Steven M.

    I'm planning to meet up with the folks at Grosvenor, but I've never been there. Is the meet up spot easy to find?

    Thanks!

    January 2, 2014

  • Bill P.

    There should be no snow issues with the roads on Saturday, since the trailhead is on Route 7, a highly traveled and well plowed state highway.

    January 2, 2014

  • Bill P.

    As of Thursday 11 pm, NWS reports 3.5 inches of snow in Bluemont with another inch more possible tonight. Our hike will be in the vicinity, but another[masked] feet higher so we can expect even more snow. Weather will remain cold, so there won't be much snow belt by Saturday. So bring your traction gear. Also would be good to bring gaiters if you have them.

    January 2, 2014

  • Bill Y.

    Change of plans and I have to cancel out. Or more accurately, it turns out that I had already (unknowingly) committed to a conflicting plan for Saturday afternoon. Have fun folks, and I'll catch you on the next hike.

    January 2, 2014

  • Korey W.

    Likewise joining the carpoolers at centreville. See y'all then!

    January 2, 2014

  • Katherine I.

    Hoping to catch a ride at centreville, I'll contribute to gas of course. See you all then :-)

    January 2, 2014

  • Bill P.

    Please make sure you have suitable boots and traction gear. The Roller Coaster is one of my favorite hikes.

    December 16, 2013

    • Bill P.

      Who knows? The precipitation that fell Jan 29 would certainly be all rain so as of 7 days before the hike, there would be absolutely no snow or ice issues. While the Roller Coaster does not have Shenandoah Park type elevation, the temps are 5-10 degrees colder than metro DC, so snow could develop by then.

      December 29, 2013

    • Bill P.

      Mountain forecast as of Jan 2 is a bit unsettled. There will probably be about an inch or so of snow and it will be cold enough at night for there to be occessional ice. It doesn't look like much, but this could change.

      January 2, 2014

  • Bill Y.

    I'll join the carpoolers in Centerville. I have a car if we need it, or I will join somebody else if that makes more sense. I am coming from near the East Falls Church metro, so if anybody needs a ride from there, let me know.

    January 2, 2014

    • Douglas

      Hi, I can meet at Centreville too.

      January 2, 2014

  • Edward

    I plan to be at Centreville to car pool with people, unless someone wants a ride from Vienna Metro.

    January 2, 2014

    • Shannon

      Edward if you're picking up carpoolers at Vienna then I'll take u up on that offer. I can be at the North Lot Kiss/Ride at whatever time works for you. Thanks!

      January 2, 2014

  • Bill P.

    I would need a ride from Bethesda or Rockville, also. We will be hiking to the closest Appalachian Trailhead from Montgomery County -- Google Maps says less 73 minutes fromRockville. An 8:30 departure leaves plenty of time. Call me at[masked] if you can give me a ride.

    December 29, 2013

    • shawn m.

      Bill if you can be at the school at 650/495 at 8:20 I can pick you up on the way through.

      December 30, 2013

    • Bill P.

      shawn, I will be at Blair HS at 8:20. Thanks.

      January 1, 2014

  • Steven M.

    Grosvenor works for me, too.

    December 30, 2013

  • Shannon

    I'll also hope to confirm a ride b4 hike. Coming from Springfield can meet anywhere nova, or just at Centerville.

    December 30, 2013

  • Steven M.

    I'm in Rockville and could take a couple of folks.

    December 29, 2013

9 went

Your organizer's refund policy for AT Hike: A Strenuous 9 Miles with Portion of Roller Coaster and Buzzard Hill

Refunds offered if:

  • the Meetup is cancelled
  • the Meetup is rescheduled
  • you can cancel at least 2 day(s) before the Meetup

Additional notes: If your RSVP is changed to no PRIOR to 48 hours before hike time!

Payments you make go to the organizer, not to Meetup. You must make refund requests to the organizer.

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