Choose Your Pace: Hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Hike to mountaintop vistas and historic sites in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with an expert instructor to teach you the best hiking practices and give you the lay of the land.
Rating (5)
Program No. 22341RJ
6 days
Starts at
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake
W. E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center

Activity note: Check-in from 3:00 p.m. Walking about 30 minutes on campus.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00-5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. We will gather at a designated location and explore the grounds ending at the Central Activities Building (CAB) in time for dinner.

Dinner: Your first meal with us will be dinner served at the Central Activities Building (CAB). All meals are served in an "all you can eat" buffet style which has people coming back for seconds - including dessert!

Evening: Orientation: 7:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar Retreats program. Our programming at Retreat locations includes opportunities for light morning exercise, interaction with members of the local community, a farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, and evening entertainment. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. After a brief break, you may choose to watch a 45-minute film that provides a good overview of Smith Mountain Lake itself.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake
W. E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center

Activity note: Driving about 75 miles, approximately 90 minutes to Appomattox Court House National Historic Park. Hiking 4.3 miles; rolling hills.

Breakfast: In the dining hall, we'll choose from the buffet.

Morning: Upon our arrival at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, a Ranger will provide us with historical perspective on the events that occurred here and show us around the McLean House. This historic home is where the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered, beginning the end of the Civil War. We will also look around the village of Appomattox Court House.

Lunch: At the park, we’ll have bag lunches.

Afternoon: The Appomattox National Battlefield covers over 1700 acres and is managed by the National Park Service. Most visitors, however, only visit the village. We will hike approximately 4.3 miles through the battlefield accompanied by experienced hikers Leonard and Laurie Adkins. These trails are through rolling hills and range in difficulty from easy to moderate.

Dinner: Buffet style meal.

Evening: Adding another layer to our outdoor experience, Leonard Adkins will present his program, “Traversing Ancient Mountains: 2,000 Miles on the Appalachian Trail.” The presentation, accompanied by live narration, is a compilation of all five of his journeys on the trail and depicts a typical "thru" hike.

Smith Mountain Lake State Park Hike, Booker T. Washington NM
W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake
W. E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center

Activity note: Driving about 25 miles, approximately 30 minutes to Smith Mountain Lake State Park. Hiking 6.5 miles throughout the day, moderate difficulty level over semi-groomed dirt with some incline.

Breakfast: Dining hall buffet.

Morning: We will travel to Smith Mountain Lake State Park in Huddleston, Virginia and embark on a 5-mile hike. These trails wind through the forested park and along the shores of Smith Mountain Lake, providing beautiful lake vistas and plenty of opportunity for photos and reflection. The trails are semi-groomed dirt with some incline and of moderate difficulty.

Lunch: Bag lunch.

Afternoon: After a presentation and guided tour of the Booker T. Washington National Monument, we will then finish with an easy 1.5 mile hike.

Dinner: Dining hall buffet.

Evening: In preparation for tomorrow's hikes, Leonard Adkins will present "Hiking and Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway", which will provide background information on the history and many hiking and cultural opportunities to be found along America's most visited national park.

Hike on Blue Ridge Parkway Trails, Summit Sharp Top
W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake
Peaks of Otter Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a shuttle; driving about 40 miles one way; approximately 1 hour. Choice of morning hikes with similar hike choices in the afternoon; all terrain features ungroomed trails and mountainous landscape: Easiest is about 3 miles; approx. 1.5 hours. Moderate is about 4.5 miles up Harkening Hill; approx. 3.5 hours; roughly 850 feet elevation gain. Challenging is about 3 miles roundtrip to Sharp Top; approx. 3.5 hours; steep, roughly 1,340 feet elevation gain.

Breakfast: Dining hall buffet.

Morning: Today we will travel to The Blue Ridge Parkway where we will hike 4.5 miles in the morning and early afternoon. These trails are not groomed and are on mountainous terrain. We will visit the 1930's Johnson Farm and Harkening Hill, taking in the history, beauty and solace of the Blue Ridge Mountains and valley views.

Lunch: Bag lunch on the trail.

Afternoon: This afternoon we will take the shuttle to within 0.3 miles of Sharp Top summit. Hiking the remainder to the top, we will have a spectacular 360-degree view (the Wall Street Journal says it is one of 10 views in the entire world to see in your lifetime!). After taking in the views, we will hike the 1.5 mile steep trail down from the summit.

Dinner: To complete our trip to the Peaks of Otter we will enjoy a wonderful meal at the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the shores of Abbott Lake and stay the night in the lodge.

Evening: At leisure.

AT Hike Over Apple Orchard Mountain, Performance
W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake
W. E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center

Activity note: Getting on/off shuttle; driving about 65 miles; approximately 1.5 hours. Choose to hike between 3 to 8 miles throughout the day; strenuous mountain trails. Easiest hike is about 3 miles; approximately 1 hour; little elevation change. Moderate hike is about 6 miles; approximately 3 hours; elevation gain of roughly 2,402 feet. Most challenging hike is about 8 miles; approximately 4 hours; elevation gain of roughly 2,513 feet.

Breakfast: Dining hall buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out of the lodge and head out for a strenuous hike over Apple Orchard Mountain along the Appalachian Trail. We will cover approximately 6.5 miles throughout the day on mountainous trails.

Lunch: We’ll stop for bag lunches at Thunder Ridge Overlook.

Afternoon: After our lunch stop with far-ranging views of the Shenandoah Valley, we will finish our hike then travel to a little known gem, where we will enjoy some homemade fruit ice cream. Flavors include cantaloupe, strawberry, peach, and honeydew.

Dinner: Dining hall buffet.

Evening: Tonight we will have a farewell celebration with live entertainment.

Program Concludes
W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center at Smith Mountain Lake

Activity note: Check-out 9:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Dining hall buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback