Located near the northern terminus of the extraordinary Blue Ridge Parkway, Humpback Rocks in Virginia is exactly 6 miles from the parkway’s northern starting point. This striking outcrop, named for the way it looks, dominates the mountainside and used to be an important landmark for wagon trains that traveled over the Howardsville Turnpike in the mid-1800s. The main place to start a visit to this area is the Humpback Rock Visitors Center, located at milepost 5.8. However, another parking lot—Humpback Gap—lies 0.2 miles further south and is also a popular starting point for a Humpback Rocks hike.
Humpback Rocks Hike, Virginia
From the Humpback Gap parking area, the trail to Humpback Rocks is no longer than 1 mile one-way. However, it’s easy to be mistaken by this seemingly short distance—it is actually one of the shorter hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s not because it’s short that it’s an easy hike, though. The trail is definitely steep, covering an 800-feet elevation gain on the way, which could definitely be regarded as challenging.
The trail is superbly well maintained, but people who aren’t used to hiking may have trouble. The steep grade during the entire Humpback Rocks hike, the presence of stairways and the necessary rock scrambling, especially near the end, make this a fun hike that will certainly raise anyone’s heart rate.
Although it’s quite short, this Humpback Rocks hike is definitely recommended. The rocky outcrop, a bare collection of protruding ledges, offers views that are nothing short of spectacular. The 360-degree views take in the Shenandoah Valley to the west and stunning Shenandoah National Park to the north.
This is a hike that can be done all-year round. Due to its shortness, if you are staying in Virginia, it’s also a rather fantastic destination for a sunset (or sunrise) Humpback Rocks hike.