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Best Charlottesville hikes for fall

A comprehensive guide

Looking to explore Virginia’s wilderness this fall? Check out this guide to local hikes, thanks to the expertise of three College students: second-year College student Zach Schauffler, second-year College student Stephanie Roatis and third-year College student Hunter Johnson.

Schauffler led incoming first-years on backpacking trips this summer through the Outdoor Recreation Center, Roatis serves as the Outdoor Club’s public relations and social chair and Johnson formerly served as the Outdoor Club’s public relations chair. Between these three, Charlottesville nature is as familiar as the backs of their hands.

Easy hikes

Blue Hole

Miles from C’ville: 15

Length: 3 mi

Difficulty: easy

What makes it special?

“[Blue Hole is] kinda similar to Humpback Rock, in that it’s a short little hike up to a big reward,” Schauffler said. “[There’s] a big swimming hole, [and] a giant rock you can jump off, [so you can] make a big splash with your friends. It’s a really cool way to cool off … especially while it’s so hot in the next couple of weeks.”

Moderate hikes

McAfee Knob

Miles from C’ville: 121

Length: 8.8 mi

Difficulty: moderate

What makes it special?

“The view isn’t so great, but once you do get to the top there’s this huge ledge,” Roatis said. “There’s a lot of good restaurants, actually, right nearby, so there’s some people who make a huge day trip out of it … You get to drive part of the Blue Ridge Parkway on your way there.”

Spy Rock

Miles from C’ville: 45

Length: 2 mi

Difficulty: moderate

What makes it special?

“The best part of the hike is the view at the top,” Johnson said. “Spy Rock is this giant dome at the top and you can run all around it … When I went this past year, there were probably about 30 people camping out near the top. The view from there is just phenomenal.”

Humpback Rock

Miles from C’ville: 29

Length: 2 mi

Difficulty: moderate

What makes it special?

“[Humpback is] great for all different times of days to hike,” Johnson said. “The scenery is very beautiful, especially with fall coming up, [because] the leaves will be changing soon. When the fall foliage comes in, it’s just … spectacular. Sunset is just as beautiful [as sunrise].”

Strenuous hikes

Doyles River Falls

Miles from C’ville: 47

Length: 3.3/7.7 mi

Difficulty: moderate/strenuous

What makes it special?

“[The hike] goes along a roaring waterfall; it’s splendid,” Schauffler said. “It’s a really lovely place to go. Even more fun, there’s a cabin you can rent, with you and your eleven best friends … for only 30 or 40 bucks a night, [so] it’s a really good deal if you get a bunch of pals.”

Old Rag

Miles from C’ville: 44

Length: 8.8 mi

Difficulty: strenuous

What makes it special?

“The feature attraction of [Old Rag] is you can go bouldering at the top,” Roatis said. “There’s views from all around … It’s a great place to take pictures, and it’s great to do in the morning. It’s an incredible climb at all times of the year, [and] you get to see the lush foliage in the fall.”