Located a half-hour west of Charlottesville along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Humpback Rocks is one of central Virginia’s most popular hikes, and for good reason. This 5.5-mile loop winds through verdant broadleaf forest, connecting three must-see local spots: the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and historic farm, the stunning granite outcropping of Humpback Rocks, and the 3,606-foot summit of Humpback Mountain. The whole hike ascends a respectable 1,500 feet of elevation gain, and both highpoints offer showstopping views across the Shenandoah region.
The jagged granite dome of Humpback Rocks was formed about 300 million years ago during a tectonic mountain-building event called the Alleghanian Orogeny. The land ultimately became part of the Monocan People’s ancestral homeland. Later, European settlers and wagoneers used Humpback Gap as a stopping point along Virginia trade routes. Homesteaders and small farmers eventually settled in the valley. To illustrate the life they had here, the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center maintains a number of 1800s-era replica farm buildings and other structures.