Parking on the VA/WV Appalachian Trail

Section 38 - Garden Mountain (VA 623) to Rich Valley (VA 42) Displayed from North to South

Maintained by:
  Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club RATCHikemaster @ Black Horse Gap to Pine Swamp Branch Shelter, and US 460 at the New River to VA 611

Submit Information Submit Pictures

Hiker Rated
Parking Safety
Directions Comments Number of Vehicles Map   &  
Garden Mountain (VA 623)
  Poor            Great

The north end of this section is on remote, winding, gravel VA 623 on the crest Garden Mountain, 4.5 miles south of Burkes Garden and approximately 7.5 miles north of a point on VA 42 which is 6.5 miles west of US 21 and US 52 and 11 miles west of Bland. 3/3/2006
4/2/08 1
at @
One landmark that indicates the parking area is close coming from VA 42 is a mailbox high on a pole on the right side of the road. The attached map shows the parking area marked by the green arrow. The parking area is on the left (west) side of the road. The northbound AT to Section 37 goes east, the southbound to Section 38 goes west. 07/10/09 4-6 1
dlcul @
Sep. 12, 2013. Drove up road 623 from Hwy 42 --TERRIBLE road , VERY narrow barely one lane &you may meet traffic coming south--someone has to back up to a wide spot--rare. There is a 100 ft drop off one side and only 12-18 inch before culvert other sid. -I feel this road should NOT be taken. To go 15 miles up 623 to Walkers' Gap access took me 55 min. Over 20 sharp hairpin blind turns. I was constantly honking horn to not run into someone. 09/13/13 1
kingsue @
Walker Gap
  Poor            Great

Approach to this point is through Burkes Garden. One route is to take VA 61 east from Tazewell. In about 5 miles, go right ( south) onto VA 623, here paved. This road goes over a ridge and descends into Burkes Garden. At approximately 8 miles from VA 61, go right on paved VA727. Follow this 4.2 miles (according to my odometer) to the end of the pavement. Continue straight ahead on a dirt continuation of VA 627. There is a dirt parking area on the left in 0.4 miles. This dirt section is currently in good condition (May 2011), but I have heard stories about it being in very poor condition or being gated. In such cases it would be possible to park roadside past the last house on the paved section and walk the rest of the way. The green arrow on the attached map indicates the trail crossing. The position may only be approximate, At the crossing the northbound trail goes east and climbs out of the gap to the ridge of Garden Mountain. The southbound trail goes west and starts the climb to Chestnut Knob. 06/12/11 4-5 1
dlcul @
Burkes Garden and Walker Gap may also be reached via VA 623 from the south. Be advised that this is a winding mountain road. See directions to the trail crossing of VA 623. Descend the north side of the mountain. Shortly after the route flattens out (about 2.8 miles from the vA 623 crossing, go left on VA 667. In 2.2 miles, go left of VA 727. From here is about 1 mile to the end of the paved road and 1.5 miles to the parking area. (See previous listing). 06/12/11 1
dlcul @
The Walker's Gap access road off 727 is terrible--12-18 in. gullies & washouts, steep climb. I barely made it in a Buick Van in 1st gear. Recommend you park on pavement, room for maybe 3 cars and walk up about 1/4 mile to trailhead. 09/13/13 1
kingsue @
USFS Rd. 222
  Poor            Great

This may be reached by turning right from VA 42 onto VA 625, at a point appoximately 14.5 miles west I-77, and continuing 7 miles to the AT. VA 625 becomes USFS Rd. 222 where state maintenance ends. This road is not shown on highway maps, but is marked on USGS maps and the Jefferson National Forest Wythe District map. 3/3/06
The junction of VA 42 and VA 625 is in the community of Ceres. VA 625/ USFS 222 is gravel for most of its length. As I recall the AT crossing is not far beyond the 'End of State Maintenance sign'. There is a parking pull off big enough for 3-4 cars. On the attached map, the green arrow marks the approximate location of the trail crossing. GPS coordiinates from This road does appear on the attached Google Map. It is still labeled as VA 625 12/11/08 3-4 1
dlcul @
The crossing is 1.2 miles west of the End of State Maintenance sign and 8.0 miles from VA 42 in Ceres. 02/04/12
pjwetzel @
Rich Valley (VA 42)
  Poor            Great

O'Lystery, Lynn Camp Creek, Bland County:

From I-77 take exit 52 at Bland, go left from Northbound ramp, right from Southbound ramp, which will put you on West Bluegrass Trail/Rt 42, which at this point is also South Scenic Highway/Rt 52. Go about 5 miles and the road splits at a "Y". Keep right at the "Y" and stay on Rt 42/West Bluegrass Trail. Go about 14 miles to Ceres (not really a town, a small community) and watch for a small picnic shelter on the right. This is "O'Lystery" . If you cross the Bland County/Smyth County line you have gone too far. The picnic shelter is privately-owned, but there is a nice big, gravelled AT parking area right beside the shelter. If you head North bound on the trail from here, "water up" every chance you get, there are two major stream crossings but two really big climbs through "dry" areas. If you head South toward Groseclose, the trail runs 9 miles though privately-owned farmland/woodland, with only the "track" accessible to hikers. There are many, many wooden ladder-stiles over farm-fence, so be prepared to get tired of climbing up and down ladders! Very pretty country though. Water up here as well, b/c although you are close to a stream most of the hike, it's cow country (filter or disinfect!) and you are mostly fenced off from the stream, or legally denied access, because of the private land.
Cecil.Sink @
The markers on the attached map indicate the entrance to the parking area. This can be seen in the street view. Walk west (actually southwest right here) to find the actual trail crossing. 11/30/09 1
at @
An alternate route from I-81 is to follow the route from Exit 50 given for the VA 610 crossing (Mile 2.4 of Section 39). Continue another 1.9 miles to the intersection with VA 42. Turn left 0.3 miles to reach the trail crossing and parking lot.. Note: It is probably possible to continue of 622 from the VA 610 intersecton for about 3.5 miles to VA 42, then go right another 3.5 miles to the AT, but I have not checked out this last stretch of VA 622. The green arrow on the attached map indicates the trail crossing. Rotate the view to the northwest to see the northbound trail to Section 38. The southbound trail to Section 39 is less clearly defined but can be seen in the southeast street view. A view to the northeast shows eastbound VA 42. The AT parking lot is on the other side of the line of pine trees in the picture. 06/10/08 1
dlcul @
Best access from I-81 from the south or west is probably via Marion. Take VA 16 (paved but winding mountain road) north from Marion to Route 42. VA 42 comes in from the left about 16 miles from Marion. The two routes coincide for a short distance then VA 42 goes right (east). Follow VA 42 11 miles to the O'Lystery Pavillion which is on the left. The AT parking lot is just beyond this. This is 0.3-0.4 miles before the Jct. of VA 42 and Va 610. The AT crosses VA 42 west of the parking area and the pavillion. A word about O'Lystery Pavillion. All the guide books plus stories from hikers indicate it is private and strictly off-limits to hikers. Apparently in the past there have been signs to this effect, but I saw none. I don't know if this indicates a change in policy by the owners or not, but it would probably be wise not to use it. 12/11/08 10-12 12/11/08 10-12
dlcul @

1 If the MAP, WEATHER or PARKING SAFETY BUTTONS do not work for you, have your browser permit pop-ups for this site.

Section 38 Pictures

Home | Virginia - West Virginia | Webmaster | Submit Information | Submit Pictures | Other Links | Children's Page

Join us on Facebook

Page last updated: 9/19/2016 3:21:47 PM