The Best Trails and Hikes in and Around Lynchburg

scenic hiking trails in Lynchburg

Lynchburg is home to one of the most unique urban trail systems in the state. Part of the James River Heritage Trail System, Lynchburg’s trails are a diverse network of biking, hiking, and walking trails passing through lush natural areas and the heart of Lynchburg’s historic downtown. With five paved trails and myriad earthen single-track trails, totaling 40 miles, there is much to explore. Within an hour’s drive, you can reach trailheads that lead to the best hikes for tumbling waterfalls and mountain summits, even a super-size rock scramble. Lynchburg is also close to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail. When you want to get outdoors, you’ve got plenty of options.

Key Takeaways

  • Sharp Top Trail offers breathtaking mountain views and is a favorite among local hikers.
  • Riverwalk Trail is an easy-going path that features flowing rivers and is perfect for a leisurely stroll.
  • Cascade Falls is a family-friendly hike that ends at a beautiful waterfall, ideal for swimming.
  • Alpine Trail provides stunning views of the James River and Blue Ridge Mountains, especially in the fall.
  • The Appalachian Trail, close to Lynchburg, offers various hiking options for all skill levels.

Sharp Top Trail

Sharp Top Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the area, as well as one of the tougher uphill climbs. This 3.3-mile out-and-back hike boasts 360-degree panoramas from the summit. Experience this 3.1-mile out-and-back trail near Thaxton, Virginia. Generally considered a challenging route, it takes an average of 2 hours to complete. The trail features a 1253 ft elevation gain, making it a strenuous hike even for experienced hikers.

Distance and Difficulty

The trail is 3.3 miles long and is rated as moderate-hard. The elevation gain of 1253 ft in just 3 miles is quite intense, which is why it’s called Sharp Top!

Summit Features

At the top, you’ll find an empty summit house that you can enter and explore. There are also stone walkways, stairs, and terraces at the summit. Keep trekking past the cabin to find some impressive rock formations where you can relax and marvel at the miles of landscape you can see.

Historical Notes

There’s even a stone shelter that was once a restaurant in the 1950s and 1960s at the top of what was once thought to be Virginia’s highest peak. On the way down, step off on a short spur trail to check out Buzzard’s Roost. Climb the massive rock for beautiful views across the Blue Ridge Mountains.

If you think you can handle this hard elevation gain, then be ready for some sweet 365-degree views! The summit offers plenty of opportunities to take in the breathtaking scenery.

Riverwalk Trail


The Riverwalk Trail offers visitors a quick transition from an urban trail to a scenic nature walk. This nearly 3.0-mile (one-way) urban trail in downtown Lynchburg runs alongside Riverfront Park on Jefferson Street. It starts where the Blackwater Creek Trail ends and continues south along the James River, cutting across Percival’s Island Natural Area.

Key Features

  • Length: Nearly 3.0 miles (one-way)
  • Location: Downtown Lynchburg
  • Connects with: Blackwater Creek Trail
  • Scenic spots: Percival’s Island, James River


Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities on the Riverwalk Trail, including:

  1. Walking and jogging
  2. Biking
  3. Bird watching
  4. Picnicking

Nearby Attractions

  • Rotary Centennial Riverfront Skate Park
  • Riverfront Park
  • Riverside Park

The Riverwalk Trail is perfect for those looking to experience both the urban and natural beauty of Lynchburg in one go.

Alpine Trail

Nestled within Riverside Park, the Alpine Trail offers fantastic views of the James River and frequent sightings of birds and other wildlife. This mile-long trail is the first dedicated walking trail developed within a Lynchburg park. Since this is a hiking trail along the ridge side, strollers and bicycles are prohibited. For safety, stay on the marked pathway.


The Alpine Trail ranges from easy to moderate difficulty, making it accessible for most hikers. However, it is not recommended for small children due to the steep hillside.


There are several entrances to the Alpine Trail within Riverside Park, all clearly marked with signs. One notable entrance is near the railroad bridge, which will take you past the James River.


The trail offers frequent sightings of woodland birds, including migrating hawks. It’s a great spot for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

For a peaceful and scenic hike, the Alpine Trail in Riverside Park is a must-visit. Enjoy the solitude and natural beauty that this historic trail has to offer.

Cascade Falls


Cascade Falls is a hidden gem that offers a refreshing break on a warm day. The waterfall may be small, but its charm lies in its serene surroundings and the sense of tranquility it provides. This short hike can also be done as a loop hike if you continue the trail just past the falls.



  • Wear comfortable hiking shoes as the trail can be slippery near the waterfall.
  • Bring a camera to capture the stunning views.
  • Pack a picnic to enjoy by the falls.

Cascade Falls is a perfect spot to unwind and connect with nature. Whether you’re looking for a quick escape or a leisurely hike, this trail offers something for everyone.

Appalachian Trail

hiking trail in Appalachian mountains near Lynchburg

The Appalachian Trail is a legendary hiking path that stretches over 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine. Virginia hosts 544 miles of this iconic trail, offering diverse hiking experiences. One of the most popular sections near Lynchburg is the McAfee Knob, known for its 270-degree panoramic view. This 8.8-mile round trip hike is moderately difficult with a steep climb, but the reward is worth the effort.

Family-Friendly Hikes

For those looking for family fun, there are several family-friendly hikes on the Appalachian Trail. These sections are less strenuous and offer beautiful scenic views, making them perfect for a day out with the kids.

Scenic Views

The trail offers numerous scenic views, including the breathtaking vistas at Mill Mountain Park and the serene landscapes along the Blue Ridge Parkway. These spots are perfect for capturing memorable photos and enjoying the natural beauty of Virginia.

Essential Tips

  • Hydration: Always carry enough water, especially on longer hikes.
  • Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking boots to navigate the rocky terrain.
  • Navigation: Bring a map or GPS device to stay on track.

The Appalachian Trail offers something for everyone, from challenging climbs to leisurely walks, making it a must-visit for any hiking enthusiast.

Rivermont Avenue


Rivermont Avenue is a charming and historic area in Lynchburg, perfect for those who enjoy a mix of urban and outdoor adventures. The avenue is lined with beautiful old homes, quaint shops, and delightful eateries, making it a great spot for a leisurely stroll.

Key Attractions

  • Rotary Centennial Riverfront Skate Park: A popular spot for skateboarders and BMX riders.
  • Riverfront Park: Ideal for picnics and outdoor activities.
  • Riverside Park: Offers scenic views and walking trails.

Trails and Parks

Rivermont Avenue is close to several parks and trails, including:

  • Alpine Trail
  • Ivy Creek Greenway
  • Riverwalk Trail
  • Trails of Blackwater Creek


The area also boasts various facilities for public use:

  • Armstrong Gym
  • The Aviary
  • City Armory
  • City Stadium Complex
  • Fort Early
  • Jackson Heights Art Studio
  • Miller Center
  • Nature Zone
  • Neighborhood Centers
  • The Overlook
  • Pools & Aquatics

Rivermont Avenue is a must-visit for anyone looking to explore the best of Lynchburg’s urban and natural offerings.

Fort Avenue


Fort Avenue is a bustling area in Lynchburg that offers a mix of urban and natural attractions. It’s a great spot for both locals and visitors to explore.

Key Attractions

  • Fort Early: A historical site that offers a glimpse into the past.
  • City Stadium Complex: Perfect for sports enthusiasts.
  • Miller Center: A hub for community activities.


Whether you’re into history, sports, or community events, Fort Avenue has something for everyone. You can visit Fort Early to learn about local history, catch a game at the City Stadium Complex, or participate in a workshop at the Miller Center.

Fort Avenue is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the diverse offerings of Lynchburg.


Wyndhurst is one of the best trails and parks in Suffolk for outdoor enthusiasts. This charming neighborhood offers a variety of parks and trails for walking, hiking, and nature enjoyment, catering to all fitness levels and interests.

Trails of Blackwater Creek

The Trails of Blackwater Creek are a highlight in Wyndhurst. These trails provide a serene environment for a leisurely walk or a more intense hike. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, you’ll find a trail that suits your needs.

Facilities | Rentals

Wyndhurst boasts several facilities and rental options to enhance your outdoor experience. From the Armstrong Gym to the City Stadium Complex, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to check out the Nature Zone and the Templeton Center for some unique activities.

Programs | Events

Wyndhurst is not just about trails and facilities; it’s also a hub for various programs and events. You can become an instructor, join an arts class, or participate in health and fitness programs. The neighborhood centers and the Overlook are perfect spots for community gatherings and events.

Wyndhurst truly offers a comprehensive outdoor experience, making it a must-visit for anyone looking to enjoy nature and community activities.



Cornerstone is a vibrant community in Lynchburg, offering a mix of residential, commercial, and recreational spaces. It’s a perfect spot for those who love to explore and enjoy the outdoors. The area is designed to be walkable, making it easy to get around and discover new places.

Trails and Parks

The community features several earthen trails that are perfect for hiking and biking. These trails wind through scenic areas, providing a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Whether you’re looking for a short walk or a longer hike, Cornerstone has something to offer.


Cornerstone is not just about trails; it also offers a variety of amenities. From local shops and restaurants to fitness centers and parks, there’s something for everyone. The community is designed to be self-sufficient, so you don’t have to go far to find what you need.

Cornerstone’s rolling hills and scenic views make it a great place to live and explore. The community’s design encourages outdoor activities and a healthy lifestyle.

Events and Activities

Throughout the year, Cornerstone hosts various events and activities that bring the community together. From farmers’ markets to outdoor concerts, there’s always something happening. These events are a great way to meet new people and enjoy the local culture.

River Ridge Mall

Shopping and Dining

River Ridge Mall is a premier destination for both shopping and dining in Lynchburg. With a variety of stores ranging from popular retail chains to unique local shops, there’s something for everyone. The food court offers a diverse selection of eateries, ensuring that you can find the perfect meal to refuel after a day of shopping.

Entertainment Options

Beyond shopping and dining, River Ridge Mall provides numerous entertainment options. Catch the latest movies at the state-of-the-art cinema or enjoy a fun-filled day at the arcade. The mall frequently hosts events and activities, making it a vibrant community hub.

Accessibility and Amenities

River Ridge Mall is designed with accessibility in mind. Ample parking, including handicap spaces, ensures a hassle-free visit. The mall also offers amenities such as free Wi-Fi, comfortable seating areas, and clean restrooms to enhance your shopping experience.

Explore the best hiking trails in Virginia on TrailLink. View trail maps with detailed amenities, guidebook descriptions, reviews, photos, and directions.

Nearby Attractions

Located conveniently, River Ridge Mall is close to several other attractions. After your mall visit, you can explore nearby parks like Riverside Park or take a stroll along the Riverwalk Trail. This makes it easy to plan a full day of activities in and around Lynchburg.


Exploring the trails and hikes in and around Lynchburg offers a unique blend of urban and natural experiences. Whether you’re wandering through the historic downtown on the James River Heritage Trail System or venturing out to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail, there’s something for everyone. From easy walks along Rivermont Avenue to more challenging hikes like the Sharp Top Trail, Lynchburg’s diverse trail network caters to all skill levels. So, lace up your hiking boots and discover the breathtaking scenery and outdoor adventures that await you in this beautiful part of Virginia. Happy hiking!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best easy hikes near Lynchburg?

Some of the best easy hikes near Lynchburg include the Riverwalk Trail, Rivermont Avenue, Fort Avenue, and Wyndhurst. These trails offer scenic views and are perfect for a leisurely walk.

Are there any indoor walking locations in Lynchburg?

Yes, River Ridge Mall offers an indoor walking location, making it a great option during inclement weather.

What should I bring when hiking near Lynchburg?

When hiking near Lynchburg, it’s essential to bring water, snacks, a map or GPS, appropriate footwear, and weather-appropriate clothing. Always check for weather or maintenance closures before heading out.

How far is Cascade Falls from Lynchburg?

Cascade Falls is located about two hours from Lynchburg. It’s a family-friendly 4-mile hike that ends at a beautiful waterfall with a deep pool perfect for swimming.

Is the Appalachian Trail accessible from Lynchburg?

Yes, the Appalachian Trail is accessible from Lynchburg. It’s one of the most famous long-distance hiking trails in the United States and offers various entry points within an hour’s drive from the city.

What are some moderate hikes near Lynchburg?

Moderate hikes near Lynchburg include the Sharp Top Trail and the Alpine Trail. These trails offer more challenging terrain and rewarding views.

Can I bike on the trails in Lynchburg?

Yes, Lynchburg has a diverse network of biking, hiking, and walking trails as part of the James River Heritage Trail System. Many of the trails are suitable for biking.

What is the best time of year to hike near Lynchburg?

Fall is a particularly beautiful time to hike near Lynchburg due to the scenic views and cooler weather. However, spring and summer also offer great hiking conditions. Always check the weather forecast before heading out.

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