“The climb to Angel’s Rest above Pearisburg is notorious among Appalachian Trail runners for its punishing incline.
— Roanoke Outside
This out and back run provides plenty of elevation over its moderate distance, but the views over Pearisburg make the climb worth it.
While this route is a tough run on the AT, the rewards at Angel's Rest are well worthwhile. You must endure a 1.5-mile, 1,650-ft. climb before you can sprawl over a boulder enjoying the view of the New River below.
The well-worn trail leads into a spring-fed ravine and briefly along an old logging road before settling into a consistent, thrashing course of switchbacks. The path crosses over two ancient rockslides and passes through thick poplar and oaks, as well as laurel and rhododendron.
Gradually, the thriving hardwood forest of the lowlands gives way to stunted oaks and shrubs.
When you reach the boulders at the top, detour a few hundred feet to the right on a blue-blazed trail for a view of Pearisburg and the twisting New River. The AT continues to the crest of Angel’s Rest and follows along a rock ledge overhanging Wilburn Valley for more spectacular views. The route is steep and beautiful.
Directions to Trailhead:
I-81 S to exit 118B (460W towards Blacksburg)
Follow 460W for ~30 miles (past Blacksburg, Newport, and Pembroke)
Take 2nd exit after crossing New River (Pearisburg/Rt. 100S)
Take 2nd right onto Johnston Avenue (Beside the Dairy Queen)
Take the next right onto Rt. 634 (Morris Avenue)
Follow 0.6 miles to where the Appalachian Trail crosses Rt. 634
There is limited roadside parking
After your run grab a bite to eat at the Palisades Restaurant overlooking the New River (540.626.2828).
Not done yet? Rent a canoe or go fishing with Tangent Outfitters (540.626.4567)