The numbers: 14 miles, 2 days
The hike: A quad-bustingstretch of the Appalachian Trail leads over four summits and past beds of white and pink trillium and thickets of wild azalea and rhododendron on this weekender. Day one is all Blue Ridge mountain majesty as you follow the AT from Reeds Gap over the tops of Bee Mountain, Hanging Rock, Three Ridges (your highpoint at 3,970 feet), and Chimney Rock. After a steep, slippery descent, call it a day at the shelter and campsites alongside Harper’s Creek. Next day, ascend to a junction with the blue-blazed Mau-Har Trail and head back north up flower-lined Campbell Creek. After 2.4 miles, reach a 40-foot cascade that splashes wildly in the spring, complete with inviting pools for a quick cool-off. A steep climb leads back to the Maupin Field shelter, where you can retrace your steps to Reeds Gap—and celebrate at Devils Backbone Brewing Company, just 10 minutes away.
Trailhead 37.901659, -78.985287; Reeds Gap, mile-marker 13.7 on the Blue Ridge Pkwy.
Red tape None
Season year-round, Mid-April to early June for peak flowers and falls