Hiking the Appalachian Trail near the Fenton Inn

 A short hike along the Appalachian Trail starting from the Humpback Rock Picnic Area, leads to a rocky cliff overlook facing the Wintergreen Ski Resort.  From this point on the AT you can see the entire ski area, the serpentine row of condos on Blue Ridge Drive and the new water tank that is used in the winter for making snow.  Just beyond Wintergreen Mountain is the familiar slopes of Three Ridges (the mountain we view from the Fenton Inn).  Beyond this in the distance is the Priest, which has Crabtree Falls at its base.  Each of the three mountain tops are about 4000ft in elevation.
 Here is the sign on the Blue Ridge Parkway showing where to park for the start of the trail. Drive into the picnic area and go all the way to the very back.  There you will find the Blue trail which connects into the AT in a short distance through the woods.  Turning left (North) on the AT takes you to the cliffs in about 40 minutes of fairly easy hiking.

The gates on the picnic area are closed in Winter, however the AT can still be accessed at Dripping Rocks rest area, just around the corner from the Picnic area.

 While there are bear warning all around the Blue Ridge Parkway and Wintergreen, this picnic area is frequented by bear looking for left overs and picnic baskets.  As always, don’t feed the bears or they can become troublesome.  We did not see any bears, but did see a number of large stones flipped over along the trail as they searched for ants.  About half their diet is plants, acorns and berries, the other half is insects, grubs and scavenging.  This is altered in areas where garbage and hand outs give them a taste for junk food.

 The Blue Trail from the picnic area leads off through the woods.  The area is heavily wooded today, but is covered in stone walls of an old farm.  During the time of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s construction in the 1930s, much of the land was still open fields.

A closer look at the trail head leading to the AT.

 The AT, some 850 miles from the start in Georgia and 1200 miles from the end in Maine.  About 2000 people complete the trail each year reaching our area in June.
 The AT trail marker at the intersection of the Blue trail with the AT.

The sign show distances to nearby landmarks.  A walk back to the Fenton Inn, which is 0.5 miles from the AT at Reeds gap, would be around 6.6 miles.

Another look at the view of Wintergreen.

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