Little Rocky Row viewpoint
The James River snakes its way toward Richmond far below the Little Rocky Row viewpoint; The Day Hiker complains about another photo with her in it.
Maybe part of the reason we'd never gone up the Little Rocky Row Trail off of U.S. 501 along the James is that it is off of U.S. 501, where big trucks come around the bend in a big damn hurry, where the trailhead's easy to miss and where the parking is 200 yards away and on the other side of the highway.
But of course that minor inconvenience is quickly behind you as you start up a wide, inviting trail that has The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All opining after a quarter-mile: "This is a nice trail; I like this." And so it remained over its longish 2.8 miles to the intersection with the Appalachian Trail – a pleasant, open trail that in winter affords good views.
There was one piece of minor trail magic around mid-way of the 2.8: Back on 501, ours had become the third car in the little overlook parking area, and now, a mile and a half later as we gained on couple ahead of us, there also came into view a pair of male hikers coming the other way. And so it was, in the big woods on a cold winter day, the three sets of hikers attached to the three cars below came to pause at the same place for a few minutes. The camoed guys were about to end a long loop they'd started at 8 in the morning; the our-ageish couple were headed up another two-tenths to reach a geo-cache spot, and then back down. We got to feel flattered when the men headed down asked how long it was to 501. The geo-cache lady – "I've got to work off these 20 pounds I've put on since menopause" – told them to "ask the skinny people."
The Day Hiker and I fought the temptation to stop at Fullers Rocks just onto the AT – a beautiful spot looking down onto the James – and pushed on toward the Little Rocky Row summit, where we spread out lunch. Two young hikers we met there came back to us mid-lunch to announce that the real viewpoint was another tenth up the trail, a fact that we had 1) no business not knowing and 2) no excuse not to look at the daggone trail book and learn what we should already have known.
Anyway, lunch was good and the view onto the James was OK if not spectacular. And we did make our way, post-lunch, to the viewpoint, just to look and lament before heading back down. Which, as she is wont to do, The Day Hiker chewed up, with the walk down taking 15 minutes less than the walk up, even including the extra two-tenths to see where we should have eaten.
The Hike: Little Rocky Row Trail to Appalachian Trail to Little Rocky Row Overlook and back. 8 miles.
How to get there: Exit 175 from I-81 to U.S. 11, Va. 130 and U.S. 501 to parking spot about 3 miles east of Glasgow.