Top 14 Scenic Hiking Trails Near Roanoke, VA

Hiking in Roanoke is incredible, and there are so many hiking trails available for you to explore. If you didn’t know, Roanoke is pretty famous for hiking and was once named “Best Trail Town” by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.

You’ll be amazed to find out about many bewildering hiking trails near Roanoke, VA. However, you can explore the many options available in this article, so whenever you’re ready to hit the trail, you don’t have to start searching.

Roanoke hiking trails have unique highlights you don’t want to miss out on. Read on to learn more about these hiking trails.

Chestnut Ridge Trail

Length5.4 miles
Highlights220m elevation gain, beautiful wildflowers, best hiking time is between April and October.

Chestnut Ridge Hill is one of the popular hiking trails near downtown Roanoke and is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway. With a total of about 5.4 miles, it is a hoop-type trail where you can enjoy some hours of hiking.

The good thing is that this hiking trail is suitable for all skill levels. It doesn’t matter whether you are new to hiking or an expert. You can try other outdoor activities like walking, running, or bird watching rather than hiking.

Moreover, if you have a dog, you can bring them along with you when hiking here. Furthermore, this trail has an elevation gain of 220m, allowing hikers to enjoy lovely views. Lastly, the trail is nicely marked, which makes hiking there easier. 

Piratebush, Cascade, Canyon, and Overlook Trail Loop 

Length4 miles
Highlights264m elevation gain, river view, best for hiking from March to October, loop route type.

The Poor Mountain Natural Area Reserve makes up the Piratebush, Cascade, Canyon, and Overlook trail. The mile of each trail varies, but they make up 4 miles altogether. You will experience stable mountain pine woodlands, stone stairs, scientific vista, and fire ecology on this trail to make your experience more extraordinary than walking.

Here’s a tip: if you want an easy hike, you should hike anti-clockwise. And clockwise if you want something a bit more challenging. You can walk the trails together or separately.

Hiking here isn’t so challenging, so you can bring your dog with you, but with a leash, just to be careful. Overall, you get to enjoy the beauty of the Poor Mountain.

Smith Mountain Lake

Length10 miles
DifficultyEasy to moderate
Highlights: 101m to 367m elevation gain, Smith Mountain Lake view, 13 hiking trails.

At the Smith Mountain Lake State Park, you can access about 13 hiking trails, providing you options of easy to rigorous hikes. This makes this hiking trail fit for all skill levels. Each trail is nearly half a mile to three miles long.

It features hardwoods and pine forests, secluded coves, and vistas. Since the hiking trails are close to the lake’s edge, you get to enjoy the blue scenery of the lake as you walk the trail, and you can bring your dog along. Its elevation gains also allow you to enjoy incredible views atop the trails.

More than providing multiple hiking trails, hikers can do other things like cycling, camping, and other recreational activities.

Bottom Creek Gorge Preserve 

Length4.0 miles
Highlights682m to 856m elevation gain, waterfall scenery, Bottom Creek.

Bottom Creek Gorge falls under the care of The Nature Conservancy in Virginia and allows you to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the second-highest waterfall in Virginia. This hiking trail is accessible for all skill levels, and trail markings are also available, making it undemanding for first-timers. 

It features small flat rocks where you can rest before continuing or not. On this hiking trail, hikers also see the Bottom Creek Gorge, a stream of the South Fork, and the Roanoke river.

If you want to enjoy the beautiful view of the creek, you should visit it in the fall, because you can see deep down into the creek. Plus, when you get to the top of the hill, you can see the large waterfall.

However, you should know that you cannot bring your dog or any animal into the Bottom Creek Gorge Preserve. 

Carvins Cove Reservoir trails

Length4.4 miles
DifficultyEasy to moderate
Highlights1000m elevation gain

Carvins Cove Reservoir is 10 miles from downtown Roanoke and 7 miles from the Northside, so you might as well visit the trails if you’re there. This trail features a moderate to steeply sloping trail.

Divided into lower and upper trails, it fits all skill levels, the lower for starters and the upper for hiking experts. As the second-largest municipal park, it features hardwoods and mixed pine forests. 

While Carvins Core Reservoir is fit for hiking, hikers can do other recreational activities like biking and horse riding.

Roanoke Valley Greenways

Length30 miles 
DifficultyEasy to moderate
Highlights114m elevation gain, bridges

Another bewildering hiking trail near Roanoke to visit is the Roanoke Valley Greenways. This hiking site connects to parks, downtown districts, and rivers around the area. If you enjoy nature trips, you should try hiking on this trail.

The trails are accessible for all skill levels, and the difficulty level can move up to moderate. However, you should wear appropriate gear and be careful when hiking on moderate to steep trails. 

In Roanoke Valley Greenways, hikers can rest on the benches available or picnic if they are with the company. You can also get good river views on this trail, with railing on bridges to ensure hiker’s safety.

Your dog can join you on your hike, but you have to restrain them with your leash.  

Angel’s Rest

Length4.6 miles
DifficultyModerate to difficult
Highlights562m elevation gain

Hiking on Angel’s Rest is challenging as it involves a lot of climbing which Appalachian trail hikers will enjoy. You can access it through the Appalachian trail located near Pearisburg.

The climb to the top of the hill is totally worth it because once you get to the peak of the boulder, you can view the New River and Wilburn Valley, the trail’s two scenic overlooks. Angel’s Rest is a 4.6 miles round trip and features a hardwood forest containing stunted oaks and shrubs.

Since the trail is challenging, beginner hikers shouldn’t hike here. 

Some experts suggest that the trail is suitable for adults. Furthermore, you can visit this trail all year round whenever you are ready, and you can bring your dog along. 

Apple Orchard Falls

Length2.5 miles

DifficultyModerate to difficult

Highlights303m elevation gain, out & back route type

This is another hiking trail Appalachian trail hikers will love. The hiking experience varies from moderate to difficult as it involves a lot of climbing. The terrain is mostly rocky.

On the trail, you can enjoy the beautiful view of a tall waterfall, and for 90% of the hike, you can see the stream outstretched. However, the whole experience is a steep hike and has a lot of steps that could get tiring.

But thankfully, it features wooden benches so hikers can catch their breath. Markings are also available for hikers, which is a good thing. The best time to enjoy hiking here is between April and October.

So when you’re ready, you can reach Apple Orchard Falls from Buchanan, Virginia, and you can bring your dog.

Cascade Falls Trail

Length4 miles loop
Highlights217m elevation gain, out and back route type

You can enjoy the beautiful Cascade waterfall from this trail. This trail divides into two halves: the upper and lower trail, which gets rougher as you advance on the trail.

When you get to the upper trail, you will get a good view of the little stony creek. It is worthy of mentioning here that the trail features rock formations.

While the trail can be challenging, the Cascade Falls end view makes it all worth it. You can visit the trail all year round, and it is dog friendly, but you need to rein your dog in with a leash.

Dragon’s Tooth

Length4.5 miles
DifficultyModerate to difficult
Highlights: 383m elevation gain, out & back route type

As one of the most popular trails on the Appalachian trail, you can access Dragon’s Tooth through the out and back route near Catawba, Virginia. It features rocks all around, as the tallest “tooth” nearby. It is known as the Dragon’s Tooth.

The trail is steep and rugged, and difficult for beginner hikers, so it does not cover all skill levels. The trail is open all year round, but the best time for you to visit is March through October. 

Ensure you pack the essentials and wear the right hiking gear before setting out on this trail. Your dogs are welcome but with a leash on them.

Hoop Hole Trail

Length9.7 miles
Highlights656m elevation gain, loop route type

If you enjoy hiking, backpacking, and other outdoor activities, you will enjoy the Hoop Hole trail. The trail is divided into two loops, the lower and the upper.

The lower loop is 4 miles, while the extended one is 9 miles. The whole trail is rugged, and the water flowing on the rock can make the experience soothing. 

Ensure you wear the right gear and hike carefully on the trail whether you are new to hiking or you’ve been doing that a long time. Visit the trail during any season, but the best time for you to enjoy the trail’s experience is when you go from March through October.

It’s easily accessible for hikers near Eagle Rock, Virginia.

Grassy Hill Natural Area Preserve

Length6.6 miles 
Highlights142m elevation gain, out & back route

Another fascinating hiking trail near Roanoke is the Grassy Hill Natural Area Preserve. Its out and back route is near Rocky Mount, Virginia.

Grassy Hill trail features two trail loops that scale across the ridge top and ridgeline. The elevation gain is 142m and climbing the trail is easier with the aid of the rocky steps available. 

While walking the trail, hikers will see the beautiful wildflowers that make the trail come alive. Furthermore, it is accessible to three other trails, which you can hike if you wish.

Mill Mountain Park and The Roanoke Star

Length3.7 miles
Highlights248m elevation gain, out and back route

The list won’t be complete without the Mill Mountain Roanoke Star, situated at the park. This beautiful trail begins at the base of the mountain, leading up to the summit of the Roanoke Star.

While you are up there, you get to overlook the Roanoke valley. The trail is laced with beautiful wildflowers, which will look good in your pictures, and the star.

You can stop by for fun at the park, visit the zoo, have a picnic before or after your hike up. It’s open all year round and is lucky for you if you own a dog.

McAfee Knob 

Length7.5 miles
Difficulty Moderate to difficult
Highlights552m elevation gain, out & back route type

Tick activities off your hiking bucket lists in Roanoke, VA, by visiting the McAfee Knob near Salem, Virginia. It is one of the most photographed spots of Appalachian trails, and you’re going to love it there.

It features steady climbing and wildflowers. You can visit all year round, but April through November is the best time.

Frequently Asked Questions for Hiking around Roanoke

What’s the best time and months for hiking here?

The best time for hiking in Roanoke is during Spring and Summer. And for most hiking trails, March through November is ideal. 

What do you need for Hikes? What to pack?

As with any hike, you need to pack some snacks and food to keep you going, a water bottle is a must, a first aid kit, hiking boots or shoes, a hiking backpack and a dry bag just in case, navigation tools like a phone or GPS, multi-tool, and trekking poles.

This is just a short list, there is a lot more to consider depending on if you are going on a short hike day hike, or a longer multiday trek.

Is the area/trail famous for any wildlife/bird watching etc.?

Some of the hiking trails in Roanoke are famous for bird watching at Star Trail, Chestnut ridge, Piratebush, and Carvins Cove.

Final thoughts

Roanoke has many hiking trails to visit whenever you want to enjoy the outdoors. Most of the treks in this area feature incredible views and other side attractions. Looking for more trails in Virginia? Check them out

However, before setting out, ensure you research all you need to know about your hiking trail. For example, find out whether there are parking spaces at the trailhead? If you can bring your dog? and pack all the essentials you need.

Happy hiking!

Emily Winters

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