Adventure Us: Read Mountain Preserve
East of town, tucked back behind Bonsack, lies Read Mountain, where a short climb affords one of the valley’s most beautiful views.
The Read Mountain Preserve is 243 acres of scenic woodland and ridgetop, jutting out between the I-81 and Route 460 corridors. The hike up the mountainside, while steep in places, is manageable even for younger hikers, and there is a great reward to look forward to at the top! The preserve features over 5 miles of trails, and there are shortcuts that can hasten your trip to the top. Meanwhile, along the longer route, there are a number of features to keep the hike interesting.
You get a great view of the ridge as you approach via Huntridge Road. From the parking area, the trail heads up the side of the mountain, following a deep gorge, then climbing steeply with several switchbacks. To get to the summit most quickly, take the yellow blazed Rocky Way trail to the red blazed Crossover Trail. This will get you to Buzzards Rock at the top in under a mile and a half, rather than the 2 mile hike following the blue blazed Buzzards Rock Trail all the way from the trailhead.
While you get several glimpses of the valley to the east on the way up, the westward view at the top is one of the best in the valley. Soak in the panorama of the northern side of the city and the Blue Ridge skyline beyond!
Either coming or going, it’s worth taking the longer Buzzards Rock Trail. This trail winds along through the woods, hugging the side of the mountain. Try to spot the quaintly named natural landmarks – potbellied pine, bee tree, rock of ages. (All these spots are labeled on a detailed trail map you can grab from the mailbox at the parking lot information board.)
Our family came away energized by the trek. The woodland beauty and the mountaintop view relaxed us during a very busy, stressful week! Take a picnic meal and spread out in the grassy area at the parking area, or better yet load a backpack and enjoy it at the bench at the summit!
If 3-4 miles isn’t enough of a hike for you, make a longer loop and scale the other two peaks within the preserve – Beacon Hill and Summit Ridge.
On the way home, try any of a large variety of restaurants along Route 460. Or be like my husband and just drop by the Bonsack Lowes!
Name: Read Mountain Preserve, 6101 Crumpacker Dr, Roanoke, VA 24012
Time from Roanoke: under 40 minutes
Activity Options: Trails, views, picnicking
Nearby Food: Thai Oudone Valley Grill, Sal’s Italian Eatery
Nearby Attractions: Blue Ridge Parkway, Carvins Cove, Tinker Creek Greenway
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