The ascent up Wilburn Ridge is the most spectacular hike in Virginia. I usually avoid superlatives in describing the outdoors, because descriptions such as “most spectacular” are of course necessarily subjective. However, in many years of hiking across the Commonwealth, this route remains my personal favorite. If you are reasonably fit and only do one hike in Southwest Virginia, this should be it.
This hike is one for all seasons: Spring, summer, fall and winter each bring a different hiking perspective. Because of the elevation, the winters can be harsh up here, and summer comes later than it does to the valleys. In the middle of June, the balds boast the largest open rhododendron thickets in Virginia. In the fall, the trees burst forth with color. The peak brilliance of fall foliage occurs several weeks earlier here than in the rest of the region—usually the last week of September or first week of October.
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