Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area
From the 4,071-foot viewpoint of Mt. Pleasant, the flattening-out geography of Virginia looking eastward reveals itself in pretty patterns of land use.
The Mount Pleasant National Scenic area was both exquisitely scenic and nearly empty on this warm Easter Day, with the sky blue and the wildflowers two or three weeks behind where we've walked in recent weeks, at elevations lower than this hike, which begins at about 3,400 feet and peaks at the almost-4,100-foot summit of Mount Pleasant.
After the mostly gentle climb from the parking lot, over Pompey Mountain and up to the highlight of this walk, we had our usual debate over whether to eat at the west overlook or the east. The combination of the strong breeze from the west and our having eaten on the westward point last time (when Ken Knott snuck up behind us and took the photo of us that introduces this blog), we found a lunch spot on the other side, looking out over Amherst and Nelson counties as they flatten into piedmont. (What we took in only briefly were the views of the Peaks of Otter and of the Cold Mountain bald, the focal point of the other terrific hike in the MPNSA).
It was walking around the summit that we saw the only other people of the whole walk, aside from the fleeting sight of what looked like a neoned runner back near the intersection of the Lanum Trail and the Mt. Pleasant spur.
Ours was a summer lunch in April, complete with warm breeze, sunscreen and some bugs flyin' around. And also with some changes to the menu, as our usual Fresh Market salad bar and sandwich selection was unavailable as we headed out this holiday morning.
As with most any really good hiking loop, this one is mostly down after lunch. And also pretty smooth and gentle as you glance back over your shoulder at the high point of the walk.
Henry Lanum Trail, Mount Pleasant Trail loop. 6.2 miles.
How to get there: Exit 188 from I-81 onto U.S. 60 east through Buena Vista, to a left onto Va. 634, then a right onto Va. 755, which becomes FR 48 to take you to the parking area.