This month’s Instagram Takeover features Virginia-based adventure photographer Sarah Giek, AKA @sarahanne138. Sarah’s stunning landscapes capture the beauty of the Virginia Blue Ridge in a way that words cannot. Read through the captions of her photos for some great tips and info about the destinations where she shot these stellar images, and keep up with her frequent adventures by following her on Instagram.
Stony Man – This is the other half of the view that makes Stony Man my favorite spot in Shenandoah National Park. It’s a perfect location for watching the sunset, and if you look closely you can see nearby Skyland Resort.
Mount Rogers – If you’ve never hiked to the highest point in Virginia, you’re missing out. Not only does the trail provide amazing views of the surrounding Grayson Highlands, but you’ll also get to experience wild ponies! The ponies were released in the area in the 1950’s to help maintain the area. They keep the brush at bay so you can enjoy the scenic views.McAfee Knob – McAfee Knob is probably the most popular hike in Virginia, and its unique outcrop is the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail. Although this a longer hike – just under 9 miles round trip – the elevation gain of 1700 feet is moderate enough to make it suitable for all skill levels. If you’re up for a day of hiking, the views are worth it!
Falling Spring Falls – The first time you see Falling Spring Falls in person, you might just forget you’re in Virginia. The 80 foot waterfall is a popular summer spot for those looking to beat the heat. A short, rocky trail leads down to the base of the falls, which is just off the side of Route 220. Head out early to get a parking spot!
Old Rag – If you’re looking for a more difficult hike, Old Rag has got you covered! The 8 mile hike requires roughly 1 mile of rock scrambling. Be prepared to climb up, on, and over boulders to make it to the summit. If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with amazing 360 degree views. Start early to avoid the crowds!
Dragon’s Tooth – If you’re looking to get away from the crowds at McAfee Knob but don’t want to sacrifice the views, head down the road to the Dragon’s Tooth trail. This shorter hike will provide more of a workout, with 1200 feet of elevation gain over just 2.5 miles of trail and a short stretch of rock scrambling. But it’ll be worth every step once you make it to the “tooth”!
Spy Rock – “There aren’t many hikes where you can get 360-degree views without a long slog to the summit – but Spy Rock is one of them! There is a fair amount of elevation gain – roughly 1200 feet over a mile and a half of hiking – and a little rock scrambling is required to get to the top of the rock. But you’ll forget all about it once you see the view!”
Bearfence Mountain – The short hike to Bearfence Mountain has just enough rock scrambling to make it feel like a challenge. It’s also one of the few hikes in Shenandoah National Park that provides both eastern and western views, making it an ideal location for sunrise or sunset.
Sarah Giek and lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. During the day, you can find her teaching math at a local high school, but at night and on the weekends she prefers to be outside exploring. She started hiking two years ago with a trip out west and has been hooked ever since. In addition to exploring the national parks (15 and counting), she’s been making her way through a list of Virignia’s best hikes. She loves the challenge of tackling a big hike, but most of all the reward she gets at the top.