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Blue Ridge Parkway
Roanoke Recreational Area

Ridge Trail



The 5.4 mile Chestnut Ridge Trail encircles the Roanoke Mountain Campground.  Leave the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 120.4 and follow Mill Mountain Spur Road for 1.1 miles to the Chestnut Ridge Overlook to reach the trailhead.  The campground is located about 0.2 mile past the overlook. The trail is wide plus well graded for most of the way.  As you hike you'll notice the trail is lined with galax, mountain laurel, and rhododendron.

The trail crosses Mill Mountain Spur Road twice and passes by a number of short side trails that lead to the campground, so this loop can be made about as long or short as you wish. The last 1.5 miles are not as well maintained or quite as scenic as the rest of the hike. Also, you may be sharing the path with horseback riders so be careful where you step.

Begin this hike at the Chestnut Ridge Overlook. Immediately come to a trail junction. One-tenth mile to the left is the Roanoke Mountain Campground. Bear right and descend slightly through dogwood and maple trees. In less than 200 feet come to the red blazed Chestnut Ridge Trail.   Turn left along the Chestnut Ridge Trail, which is a wide pathway with little change in elevation at this point. There are good wintertime views of the small community of Gum Spring here.

At 0.15 mile the trail rounds a spur ridge and begin a series of small ascents and descents.  At 0.6 miles Mill Mountain Spur Road is less than 100 yards to the left, switch back to the right and descend.  At 0.8 miles the trail switch backs to the left and continues to descend.

At one mile you'll cross a culvert and begin an almost unnoticeable rise in elevation because of the well graded trail.  At 1.4 miles the trail rounds another spur ridge and descends.  At 1.5 miles, prior to reaching VA 669 there is a short side trail leading to Mill Mountain Spur Road. From there it is 0.4 miles left to the Roanoke Mountain campground and .6 mile to the Chestnut Ridge Overlook. To continue on the Chestnut Ridge Trail, walk on VA 669, cross under Mill Mountain Spur Road, and reenter the woods on a pathway to the left. Bear right, descend slightly, and begin a gradual rise.

At 1.6 miles the trail crosses under a small utility line. Continue the gradual ascent then at 1.9 miles cross under and parallel the utility line for 100 feet.   At 2.1 miles, on the left is a campsite, picnic table, and water fountain. Your near campsites 18, 19 & 20.  The trail now begins a long loop around the campground. In a few hundred feet cross a trail which, to the left, leads to the campground. Soon, cross a spur ridge and another short trail to the campground. Begin a descent and, at the switchback, veer away from the campground.

At 2.3 miles avoid the unauthorized trail to the right; switch back to the left on a more gradual descent. At 2.5 miles the trail descends steeply to cross a gully. You may be close to the campground, but this spot offers quiet solitude.  At 2.7 miles make a hard left and follow the trail into a narrow gully between two small ridge lines. Rise gradually. At 2.9 miles switch back to the right (straight ahead leads to the campground amphitheater).  Ascend and follow an old roadbed.  At 3.1 miles switch back to the left (there is another side trail to the campground).  At 3.2 miles you'll reach the top of a spur ridge. Campsites are immediately to the left.

At 3.5 miles you might notice the many mine diggings next to the trail. The pathway here is making use of an old narrow gauge railroad bed. These railroads used to lace the Blue Ridge Mountains, bringing the area's rich natural resources out to mills and processing plants.  At 3.6 miles a signed trail to the left leads 0.2 mile to the RV section of the campground.  This is the campground Nature Trail.

At 3.8 miles the trail begins to ascend with many dogwood trees lining the trail. Soon there are open views across a trailer park to the Rockydale Quarry and surrounding mountains. The character of the trail changes markedly. It becomes narrower and sometimes overgrown with thorns, briers, and poison ivy. Descend.  The trail becomes tougher to follow. At 4.1 miles the trail descends steeply and at 4.3 miles cross under some large utility lines. The trail may be indistinct, but continue straight and reenter the woods.  At 4.4 miles cross the utility lines and then parallel them for 200 feet before descending to the left into the woods.

At 4.5 miles reach VA 672. Directly across the road is a short spur trail to a main portion of the Roanoke Valley Horse Trail. To continue on the Chestnut Ridge Trail turn left onto VA 672, cross under Mill Mountain Spur Road, and reenter the woods to the left. The trail is almost in the backyards of some Gum Spring homes.

At 4.6 miles pass under utility lines as the pathway becomes wider and finally regains a sense of isolation. Begin to climb as you enter the deeper woods.  At 5.4 miles you return to the starting point of the trail; the Chestnut Ridge Overlook is 150 feet to the left and the end of this loop hike.  There is a map of the hike below.  This hike is featured in the hiking guide book Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway.

A barrier along the Chestnut Ridge Trail

CNY Hiking HOME PAGE Roanoke Recreational Area Virginia BRP Highlights

Developed Areas Along the Parkway