View of the James River from the AT
Cookie exploring the edge, and the view over the James River and beyond.
You can think about a climb with 21 switchbacks as one long climb of a mountainside. Or you can think about why the trail builders created them: to make the climb of a mountainside a heck of a lot easier than going straight up. Or you can think, while you're climbing, both things at the same time.
But the payoff here for the 1,900 or so feet of elevation gain always seems to be worth once we're up there. From Fullers Rocks the view down onto the James River, at the surrounding mountains and east along the river to Big Island, sustains interest like few others in the region.
And really, it's not too bad a climb, as things stay pretty flat for a time, at first along a pretty stream, if you start from along 501. We made it up in 90 minutes. Then we had a great lunch with the great view, and made it back down in 90 minutes, where we met a young couple about to run up to Fullers Rocks.
"Jealous, aren't you," The Day Hiker ragged her creaky ol' fellow hiker.
Appalachian Trail from the James River north to Fullers Rocks and back. 8 miles.
How to get there: Natural Bridge Exit (175) from I-81 to Va. 130 to U.S. 501 to AT crossing parking lot.