Monday, December 8, 2014

Peaks of Otter Lodge and Sharp Top Trail 
                    Bedford, Virginia

Many of us may live our whole lives without stopping and looking around us to see the beautiful landscapes God has created. My wife and I have been avid campers all our lives. We were introduced to nature by our parents, church; and the Boy Scouts. The Peaks of Otter Lodge is located approximately thirty miles north of the city of Roanoke on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The lodge itself is situated in a valley between Round Top and Sharp Top Mountains. A small lake is located on the southern side of the lodge and all of the lodge rooms have balconies with the lake and Sharp top views. There are hiking trails that have their beginning at or near the lodge. My favorite hike is the hike up Sharp Top Mountain. 

A sign at the beginning of the Sharp Top hike offers some history of the hike and surrounding area.  Sharp Top Mountain attracted Indians some  8,000 years ago the same way the scenery attracts modern day visitors. To reach the top the hiker has two choices, by a bus ride or by hiking the 1.5 mile trail to the top.  In earlier times the mountain was believed to be the highest in Virginia. In honor of George Washington a rock was included as part of the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. Later land surveyors determined there were other mountains taller than Sharp Top. To this day the lodge at the base of Sharp Top Mountain gives visitors a chance to relax in an environment of cool temperatures, recreation and inspiration. As custom in the morning one may take the hike to the top of Sharp Top to see the sunrise over the valley below.

                     Sharp Top sign with the above information at the trail head

                       Picture taken from the lodge looking across the lake to Sharp Top

                                Sharp Top bus that takes riders to the top

                                              Fall leaves along the trail


                                              Fall flowers brighten the path.

           The trail is very rocky and steep and railings are provided for help climbing.

Almost at the top is a large rock outcropping called Buzzard's Roost and further up 
                                                          is Sharp Top.

A trail sign leads the way to Buzzard's Roost and the bus parking lot.

    Buzzard's Roost requires some rock hopping to see magnificent views of the 

More rock steps and hand rails nearer the top

At higher elevations near the top one can see the clouds looming above the trees.

Very near the top there is a sign explaining that weathering of larger rocks have formed boulders-like blocks of Diorite rocks formed by the freezing and thawing of the moisture in the cracks of the rocks.

At the top of the mountain there is a sign next to a small cabin stating that Sharp Top Mountain is 3,875 feet in elevation, and that a rock taken from this mountain was placed in the Washington Monument with the inscription, "From Otter's summit-Virginia's loftiest peak, to crown a monument to Virginia's noblest son."

A small one-room cabin sits on top of the mountain, and no one is allowed to stay in the cabin overnight. The story is told of a group of Boy Scouts who stayed in the cabin during a heavy lightening storm, and a lightening bolt struck the cabin going down the chimney killing one of the scouts. 

At the top there are National Park Service markers with the names of distant mountains. This one is pointing to Thunder Ridge 9 miles due north.

There are steps and terraces at the top built to allow easy viewing of the valley below.

On the very top of Sharp Top Mountain one can see the Peak's otter Lake and lodge below. From here you can retrace your steps back to the trail head.

Psalms 72:3 "The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness."