The Washington Monument, completed in 1884, contains an engraved stone block recognizing 3,875-foot Sharp Top Mountain as Virginia’s highest peak. Although this was later proved inaccurate by the 5,729-foot Mount Rogers, Sharp Top still reigns supreme when it comes to views. From the summit, peakbaggers enjoy a stunning 360-degree view that sweeps across the farm-dotted eastern lowlands to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the western Shenandoah Valley.
From the Blue Ridge Parkway-based trailhead (across from the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center at MP86), start a moderate climb along the mountain’s base. The trail soon crosses a road used by shuttles in summer before ascending more steeply, with dense forest giving way to ever-expanding mountain-and-valley views to the southeast. The easy-to-follow path winds over—and sometimes through—roots, rocks, and felled trees.
As you pass through a boulder field, look ahead for a rocky outcropping known as Buzzard’s Roost (whose overlook is reached by a short spur trail 1.3 miles from the trailhead). At the spur trail junction, turn left to continue to Sharp Top’s bouldery peak. The trail soon coils steeply to the summit. Pass an old stone building then take the last few steps to the top for the full panorama.
MORE PARK INFO: Blue Ridge Parkway, (828) 271-4779; nps.gov/blri/.
-Mapped by Amy C. Balfour