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Humpback Rocks [MP 5 – 9.3]

members-humpbackThis first major stop along the Parkway gets its name from the humped effect of the massive greenstone outcrop near the summit of Humpback Mountain.

Located between Mileposts (MP) 5 and 9.3, Humpback Rocks is rich in history, scenic beauty, and abundant hiking trails. Early European settlers forged a living from the native materials that flourished in the Appalachian Mountains. Hickory, chestnut, and oak trees provided nuts for food, logs for building, and tannin for curing hides, while rocks were put to use as foundations and chimneys for the houses, and in stone fences to control wandering livestock. This area was rich in stone and other resources and many self-sufficient farms sprang up in the Humpback Mountain area.humpback-spring

The Visitor Center is staffed and offers nice restrooms and a store with a small museum. The museum exhibits examine both the natural and human history of the Blue Ridge.

Adjacent to the Visitor Center is an outdoor farm museum. A sign at the entrance to the farm museum reads: “This was originally a Land Grant tract granted by the Commonwealth of Virginia to induce pioneers to settle the Blue Ridge Mountains and establish the border of the Western Frontier. Later it became known as the William J. Carter Farm. The original buildings have long since disappeared, but replaced with other authentic structures moved from nearby.” The farm museum consists of a single-room log cabin and a series of outbuildings that represent elements of regional architecture of the late 19th century. The buildings were assembled here in an arrangement that allows for an easy stroll along a pathway.

There is a parking area across from the Visitor Center where you can park closer to the Mountain Farm trail head. Be prepared for an almost direct ascent right away. The trail is very well maintained / clean and there are benches along the way for those that need rest. The trail surface ranges from loose rock, to built up wooden steps to steps carved with rocks. The hike can be strenuous at times, but your reward is an utterly spectacular view at the top.

The Appalachian Trail can also be accessed from the Humpback Gap parking area. Southbound hikers can reach it by continuing south on the Humpback Rocks trail. Northbound hikers can reach it taking the one mile (1.6 km) blue blazed path at the northern end of the parking lot, or the one mile (1.6 km) white blazed path just off of the Howardsville Turnpike. Coming from the north on the Appalachian Trail there is an AT shelter called The Paul C. Wolfe shelter nearby.


  • Go early to avoid the crowds and the heat.
  • Bring water and optionally, snacks for the hike.
  • Humpback Rocks is a favorite destination in the fall to view migrating birds, especially hawks.
Excerpted from TripAdvisor hiker reviews:

The day we went, it was one of those rare summer days with perfect weather. We started up around 9 and there were only a handful of other folks at the top. We came back down, we must have passed 40+ people. It is very rocky and steep at the top, but there are level places to see the views for those that are scared of heights. I would not recommend this hike for people that do not exercise regularly, elderly people or those with heart conditions.” — user dbae27

Our hike was uphill the whole way but a wonderful workout for us! An 2 hour hike up and back. Take your cameras as it has many, many beautiful places to take pictures. The final destination was well worth the uphill walk. The view was totally breathtaking! ” — user belairtraveler

The highlight for us was the replica 19th century farmstead spread out along a short hiking trail. The various buildings and other elements of the farm are marked by signs that explain their function, and the rustic farmhouse is furnished with the simple implements that made life manageable on these hardscrabble farmsteads.” — user Curt T

Points of Interest
Interpretive and Educational
  • During the summer months – interpreters, complete with period costume, re-live the rustic and beautiful mountain life from long ago.
Wikipedia, “Humpback Rocks”

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