Updated on November 24, 2019
Hiking Buzzard Rock of George Washington National Forest
It’s a weekend towards the end of October, when foliage forecast was at its peak for mountains in the mid-atlantic region, something that I wouldn’t attempt to miss. This time, I ventured into Northern George Washington National Forest and hiked Buzzard Rock Trail, in the best of autumn colors.
Since it was the weekend of peak foliage, I was originally planning to spend the night camping at Wolf Gap. Unfortunately, weather forecast were hinting at some violent overnight storm, so that was cut short to a day trip.
But still I was gambling with the weather a little bit. Intermittent drizzle, albeit very light, accompanied me on my way to the trailhead and towards the early part of my hike. But at the end of the day, both the trail and I remained dry, among the best views of the year.
By the way, a burnt truck on I66 blocked the highway for an hour, so it was already past noon by the time I reached the trailhead. Buzzard Rock Trailhead had parking for about 15 cars and was half-filled by the time I arrived. Online comments did suggest it was usually full on weekends of peak summer season.
And here’s GPS tracking.
But soon after the trail wrapped around some houses and headed deep into forest, autumn colors began to reveal themselves. That’s also where the trail started to gain elevation.
About 2.3km from trailhead, I reached the northernmost point of the trail, with views of farmland and forests farther North.
It’s also where I (attempted to) had some snacks, only that I found a swarm of flies also inhabit that place. It’s quite unfortunate that rest of the trial was very much bug-free in this season, hopefully it’s only due to high humidity that they tended to fly low.
The rest of the trail follows a mountain ridge. Up till this point the trail was pretty flat and even, but onwards rocks began to take a more dominant role on the trails.
About 500 meters farther it was Buzzard Rocks, where a series of boulders made up the mountain ridge, providing wonderful views of rolling hills towards the West. And since it’s peak of autumn, the mountains were wearing their best colors of the year.
From this point on Buzzard Rock Trail continued for another 3 kilometers along the same ridge, as I followed the trail map by Alltrails. However, except very few unofficial vistas that were unfortunatly also heavily obscured by trees, there were hardly any exciting sceneries along the way, compared with awe and humbleness that Buzzard Rock imparted on its visitors. That’s why most visitors turned back at Buzzard Rock, and to me that made more sense.
So two and a half hours later I was back at Buzzard Rock, tired and a little bit bored. Good thing was that hillside was as enchanting.
This time I found a piece of rock (below) to myself, that is, without the annoying company of bugs, sat back and unwound myself (above).
A few other brave souls were anticipating sunset in a most leisure way, on hammocks. Since it’s a rather cloudy day, I wished them good luck and headed back to the parking lot.
With a longer than preferred route and many photos taken along the way, I was back at the parking lot in more than five hours’ time (2.5 hours should be more than enough if one was just heading for Buzzard Rock).
Before I left, I pulled into a church parking lot that’s closer to civilization (with cellular coverage) to set my navigation, while taking a final look at the hills of George Washington National Forest.