Blue Ridge Parkway | PEAKS OF OTTER HIKING TRAILS (MP 86)

Peaks of Otter Trail Map (click to enlarge)

Peaks of Otter Trail Map (click to enlarge)

Johnson Farm Trail

The Johnson Farm Trail is a loop that takes visitors past a restored mid-1800s farm. While you can hike to the farm from the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center, it is a .3-mile walk (.6-mile round trip) just to get to the start of the trail. Unless you are a glutton for exercise, there is a closer trailhead near the front parking lot of the Peaks of Otter Lodge, which is a half mile farther north. Total distance of the hike is around 1.75 miles.


Abbott Lake Trail

This easy, 1-mile loop trail around Abbott Lake is best started at the Peaks of Otter Lodge parking lot or at the end of the road at the Peaks of Otter Picnic Area. You can also get to it from the Peaks of Otter Campground, but it is a long walk to the lake.


Fallingwater Cascades Trail

The Falling Water Cascades Trail is a 1.4-mile loop hike that leads to a series of cascades on Fallingwater Creek. The trailhead is located at Mile Post 83.1 (Fallingwater Cascades Trail Parking Area), which is three miles north of the other trails at Peaks of Otter. The trail is moderate with some strenuous climbs.


Sharp Top Mountain Trail

This is a strenuous 3-mile round trip hike to the summit of Sharp Top Mountain, which was once thought to be the highest point in Virginia (modern surveying found that another mountain was actually taller). If turning off the Blue Ridge Parkway towards the campground, stay right when the road forks and you will come to a parking area specifically for this trail. Though I had planned on hiking the trail, due to the mountain being shrouded in fog on the day of my visit, I skipped the hike since it would have been impossible to see anything at the top.

For those who do not want to hike to the top, a shuttle bus can take you there from May through October for a fee. This bus is operated by the same concessionaire that operates the Peaks of Otter Lodge. For a schedule, visit the Lodge’s Sharp Top Bus Tour web page. Keep in mind that you still have a rugged quarter mile hike from the bus stop to the peak. No cars or hikers are allowed on the road to the top.


Elk Run Loop Trail

This is a .8-mile loop nature trail that educates visitors on the forest at Peaks of Otter.


Harking Hill Loop Trail

This 3.3-mile loop trail begins at the back of the Visitor Center near the amphitheater. Part of the trail takes a path also used by the Johnson Farm Trail.


Flat Top Trail

This one-way trail runs 4.4 miles between the Peaks of Otter Campground and the Flat Top Trail Parking Area at MP 83.5, crossing Flat Top Mountain near its mid-way point. Remember, this is one way, so unless you have a ride at the end, you must cross the mountain twice on your 8.8 mile hike.


Back to the Top | Peaks of Otter Recreation Area | Hiking Trails


With a few exceptions, use of any photograph on the National Park Planner website requires a paid Royalty Free Editorial Use License or Commercial Use License. See the Photo Usage page for details.
Last updated on November 30, 2023
Share this article