If you are like me, you spent the Fourth of July holiday celebrating all that is America by saluting our flag, thanking our veterans, and pigging out at a backyard barbeque. Sure, you may have worked in the casual volleyball or cornhole game, but that isn’t going to burn off the calories of that hotdog-eating contest with cousin Larry or Aunt Sally’s 17-layer dip. Time to get back on the horse, and that means taking a hike. Nothing captures the spirit of the American can-do attitude like the Appalachian Trail, so bring those good Independence Day vibes full circle by taking a day hike on the quintessential American footpath.
Nearly a quarter of the A.T., almost 550 miles, runs through Virginia making it easy to access the trail from many points in the state. This weekend, work off those cookout calories with a hike up Bluff Mountain, outside Buena Vista, Va.
Directions: The hike begins at the Bluff Mountain Overlook at milepost 51.7 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Pick up the A.T. heading south on the other side of the parkway from the parking area.
This is a moderate 4-mile hike to the summit of Bluff Mountain, following the A.T. the whole way. There is a blue blazed spur trail a half mile in that will lead you to the Punchbowl Shelter. Check it out and see how the thru-hikers do it. You may even run into one along the way. The top of Bluff Mountain is marked with a plaque signifying the spot where they found Ottie Cline Powell.
After the hike, pop into Lexington, Va. for some history: both Washington & Lee and the Virginia Military Institute are in the town and are full of museums and military exhibits.