Do you want to get in a good hike on the way to one of Loudoun County’s award-winning vineyards? There are several great places to catch the Appalachian Trail close to many Northern Virginia wineries, restaurants and historic sites. Blackburn Trail Center just outside Round Hill, Virginia is one of those places.
My husband and I headed there last weekend for a hike, so we wouldn’t feel guilty when we chowed down on charcuterie and wine later on. The Trail Center is at the end of one of Loudoun’s numerous gravel roads, and the drive there, past Old Loudoun farmhouses and fields is a big part of the experience. This is a little used access point to the Appalachian Trail so the small parking places at the trail head still had parking spots available (though it was mid-day), and we felt like we’d entered true wilderness as we stepped out of the car into breeze and birdsong.
Past the rustic Trail Center complex, we followed the blue-blazed trail to the ridge line where the white-blazed Appalachian Trail meandered under the glorious tree canopy along the West Virginia/Virginia border. Close by was a magnificent view of a remote West Virginia valley, and we stood on the rock promontory, breeze on our faces and admired the colors. Afterward, we wandered with our dog north for a mile, catching glimpses of Virginia to our right, anticipating coming back here in the winter when all the leaves had gone so we could wander for miles with Virginia visible on one side and West Virginia on the other.
We saw a few through-hikers loaded down with gear, but otherwise we were alone with our dog in this pretty place. If we’d had the energy, we could have wandered north for 7-8 miles to Harpers Ferry or wandered south to Raven’s Rock, Snicker’s Gap, and Bear’s Den near Berryville, VA. But today, we packed it in after only a few miles so we could return through Hillsboro for a tasting at Hillsborough Vineyards. The view from the patio while we sampled the wine was breathtaking, and we felt blessed to have everything from wilderness hiking to high-culture in one short outing.