Facebook Image

Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and Mountain Farm ~ Blue Ridge Parkway ~ Virginia

Humpback Rocks Recreation Area just 5 miles south of milepost 1 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia should be a required stop for living history enthusiasts! A visitors center greets you, with displays of mountain life and culture. Since our goal is for families to experience living history, this site has an incredible write up of everything to do at this one stop. Picnic areas, bathrooms, hiking trails and more!

Head down the Mountain Farm Trail, alongside the tattered chestnut logs fashioned neatly into a split rail fence, to the William J. Carter Farm. Forest surrounds the area, but the log cabin in on neat and tidy clearing.

The first sign you read says: "Walk the self-guiding trail through a mountain farmstead. This was originally a Land Grant tract granted by the Commonwealth of Virginia to induce pioneers to settlers 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."

Near the log cabin it reads: "A man's home is his castle. The log cabin has always been associated with the American frontier but the idea of homes built from logs but the idea came from immigrants from northern Europe. The early southern highlanders adopted this type of construction and found it well suited to their needs. Using the mountains' most abundant resource, trees, a log cabin could be built quickly with only a few tools."

Poke around the 1890's farm and see some interesting facets of the pioneering Appalachian life.

We highly recommend Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway by Randy Johnson (excerpted from) Pick up the trail's interpretive brochure at the visitor center and take the paved sidewalk that becomes a gravel lane (likely a section of an historic old turnpike you'll encounter on a loop of Humpback Rocks). On the left, you first reach a cabin and chicken house, and then a "gear loft" where the family stored their "plunder" (supplies and equipment). Past those structures and across the lane, a contorted barn is surrounded by a stone-walled pig pen. Farther on, a springhouse channels cold water through a sheltered food storage structure. Beyond that is "kissin' gate." Pass through and you're in "Coiner's deadenin,'" the still grass covered meadows under the towering crag of Humpback Rocks. Here mountaineers cleared fields the slow way-by girdling the trees to kill them and planting crops between the leafless giants (which were later felled). You can walk beyond the gate gradually rising to the height of land in Humpback Gap, where the trailhead parking is located for the Humpback Rocks Trail. Retrace your steps, or park at the gap and take both trails from one central spot. Randy obviously knows the Blue Ridge phenomenally well!

To actually hike up to the Humpback Rocks, here is some good information that will assist you.

We would have liked to explore further, but massive thunderstorms were brewing as we ambled through Humpback Rocks. As we are always saying at Living History Sites, it is difficult to choose your weather when you are traveling, but don't let that spoil things for you and the kids. Do the best you can! Heavy clouds and hazy sunshine obscured many of the extravagant views, as the clouds raced toward us. We were happy to get the photos we did!

The last photo shows the leaves flipping, what we call the "Mamaw Report." When the leaves flip and begin to whisper intently, it means rain is coming and you had better watch out! We have found the flipped leaves to tell of a thunderstorm coming quite often!

We left right before a massive thunderstorm hit, that actually sent tornadoes over parts of Virginia! Who would have thunk it!

Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and Mountain Farm

Humpback Rocks- April 25 - May 23, 7 Days a Week - Closed for Lunch (12-1). Open daily from May 24-November 2. Picnic areas, trails.

Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm - The trail around the farm is open year-round, but only during the summer months are the buildings open.