Perfect for hikers needing a quick fix, the newly-opened Read Mountain Preserve is located less than 10 miles from Roanoke and within 5 minutes of I-81. The park’s tiny entrance, tucked in a back corner of a still-growing subdivision, belies the preserve’s true size: 243 acres sprawled across the eastern flank and summit of Read Mountain.
This 3.4-mile out-and-back follow the preserve’s one and only trail to Buzzards Rock, a cluster of boulders at the top of Read Mountain. From the trailhead, the path crosses a small meadow then starts a gentle, forested ascent. Despite intermittent sounds of hammering from the subdivision below, nature takes over as the forest closes in.
The trail switchbacks steadily up the mountain, skipping over tiny creeks and up stone steps. You’ll catch a tree-framed view of downtown Roanoke at the southern end of the trail just below the ridgeline. A final stroll across the mountain’s spine leads to Buzzards Rock. (On less crowded days, don’t be surprised if you startle a buzzard or two from their roost.) Follow the same route back to the trailhead.
MORE INFO: Read Mountain Preserve
-Mapped by Amy Balfour