For a bit of history with your hiking, pull into the lot at the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center at Milepost 6. The .25 mile, wheelchair-accessible Mountain Farm Trail begins just south, meandering past an 1890′s log cabin and several outbuildings. Costumed re-enactors provide history in the summer. Continue south along the farm’s fenceline, looking for black-eyed Susans and other wildflowers on your right. The craggy Humpback Rocks are visible on the mountain just south as you approach the Blue Ridge Parkway.
After crossing the Parkway, pick-up the blue-blazed Humpback Rocks Trail at the south end of the parking lot, then power up the tree-lined mountainside. It’s a steep, 700-foot ascent, but several wooden benches are well-placed for resting, and the path is shady in summer. After climbing a long, steep set of wooden steps, turn left at the junction at .8 miles. Swing slightly right to pick up the most climbable crags. A short scramble ends with wide views of rolling mountains, the Shenandoah and Rockfish Valleys, and a few glimpses of the parkway far below.
From here, the blue-blazed trail continues south, soon joining the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail (AT). For the loop, follow the AT north, descending on a leisurely set of switchbacks along the mountain’s eastern slope before joining the stone-walled Old Howardsville Turnpike, a major trade route in the mid 1850′s. After .5 miles, leave the AT at the signed junction, following the blue-blazed trail back to the Humpback Rocks parking lot.
-Mapped by Amy Balfour