Hokie hiking hot spots


Catawba, Va., Sept. 28 – The View Atop Dragon’s Tooth: A group of friends rest after reaching the top of the mountain. They take in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds them. Photo: Ari-Ahna Everett


by Ari-Ahna Everett–

It’s not surprising that Virginia Tech has great hiking trails, after all, the school is nestled amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains. However, Virginia Tech students have some of the best, hidden trails right in their backyard. The Cascades, McAfee Knob, Dragon’s Tooth, and Mountain Lake are so well known, they are must do’s on the official 1872 Hokie Bucket List.

The Hokie Bucket List has 72 tasks and was originally created by the Student Alumni Associates. The list is designed to give all Hokies, regardless of age, the full Virginia Tech experience to last a lifetime. All four hikes made it on the Hokie Bucket List because they are each special in their own way.

The Cascades

Number 10 on the Hokie Bucket List and the only hike listed under the “The Essential Hokie 18”, is a true Virginia Tech tradition. The 4-mile hike is only 25 minutes outside of Blacksburg in the Jefferson National Forest. With its man-made trails which lead to a beautiful 66-foot waterfall, its view attracts hikers from all around. Although the flowing waterfall is a natural sight for sore eyes, it’s commonly said to look its best when frozen solid in the winter. The Hiking Upward official website, home to all of the hikes in Southwest, VA, calls it one of the most beautiful waterfalls and creek trails in Virginia.

McAfee Knob

The ambitious, 7.7-mile hike is near Salem, VA. The popular Appalachian Trail spot sits at number 22 on the Hokie Bucket List, and it’s no surprise. Roanoke.com writes, “In Virginia, McAfee Knob is the Appalachian Trail’s poster and postcard image. Pick up an Appalachian Trail calendar and there’s a good chance it’s there.” At the top of McAfee, you have a perfect panorama view of mountains as far as the eye can see. The hike is known for being a more rigorous course; however, a fire lane through the mountain makes the climb more achievable for less inclined hikers.

Dragon’s Tooth

Located in Catawba, VA, Dragon’s Tooth is nearly as popular as it’s mountain neighbor, McAfee Knob. Unlike McAfee, Dragon’s Tooth is 5.7-miles and is known for it’s difficulty. The hike involves strength, rock climbing ability, and determination. The hikes difficulty increases as you begin to summit the rock itself. Dragon’s Tooth sits one spot below McAfee’s on the Hokie Bucket List at slot 23.

Mountain Lake

The famous Mountain Lake will be eternalized thanks to the 1987 classic, Dirty Dancing. The movie was filmed at the Mountain Lake Lodge grounds. Visiting the site as well as its beautiful trails comes in at number 64 on the Hokie Bucket List. Bald Knob is one of several hikes in the area but is by far the most visited. The trail is a short, 1-mile hike straight up. The steep hike is a quick getaway with an incredible, open view.

Be a part of the Hokie Bucket List tradition. Get out there and experience what everyone is talking about.