Christina Luk ‘21
Ali Zablocki ‘19
As we start the year, what better way to get off on the right foot than to go on the right hike?
There are a great many paths one may take in life, and the start of the year represents for many of us the start of a new journey. For our new intrepid 1Ls, a hike in nature will refresh the mind and preserve your sanity. For those returning from a busy summer, fresh from the gentle ravages of OGI or glumly returning from a sweet month-long vacation following a 2L summer job, a hike will recoup those broken spirits. For the celebratory, the crestfallen, and all those on the middle path, there is hiking. What is a tort? Contracts who? Meeting of the minds? All that will come in due time. Take off now for the green and vibrant hills! Nothing beats the hiking trails of Virginia. I present to you, Law Weekly’s Guide to Healthful Exercise.
The Rivanna Trail starts just outside the Law School doors, making it accessible for even those of us in the deepest and darkest of gunner pits. To find freedom and fresh air, one need simply to walk out the double doors by Caplin Auditorium, down to the D3 parking lot, and off into the trees. The Rivanna Trail is a gentle 19-mile road that winds through the cheerful city of Charlottesville, perfect for meditational walking or running. There are some very cool spots, such as the one just behind the Conservatory on Main Grounds. The Trail gets a little tricky by Old Ivy Road, where it seems to break off, but worry not, it picks up again once you find the train tracks, which honor compels me to say are technically illegal to cross. The Rivanna Trails Foundation App has street and satellite maps to help you find your location and keep the adventure going.
Humpback Rocks (Blue Ridge Parkway)
The hike at Humpback Rocks is nature’s homage to the Law School. As art mimics life, so too does the grueling uphill trek mimic the learning curve of 1L life. The hike at Humpback Rocks begins with a beautiful thirty-five minute drive from town. Take I-64 and, everyone but the driver, direct your camera phones at Rockfish Valley as you approach the summit at Afton Mountain. You will not disappoint your Instagram followers.
At the south end of the Humpback Gap parking lot, follow the blue blazes on the trees to Humpback Rocks. (The same parking lot also gives access to the aptly named Humpback Mountain and the Humpback Rocks picnic area.) At about a half-mile up the trail, take the spur trail on the left to begin the ascent. This 700-foot climb represents the arduous first year of law school. This rocky, uphill scramble rewards you with a job spectacular view of the Rockfish and Shenandoah Valleys. 2Ls and 3Ls may saunter downwards at a more sedate pace along the Appalachian Trail, perhaps finishing the day at one of the lovely wineries nearby, or, go wild, even a cidery.
Blue Hole (Sugar Hollow)
Are you in the mood for a swim? Ready to submerge yourself in something other than cold sweat and anxiety? Sugar Hollow is only thirty minutes away! Bring some water-resistant shoes or be prepared to wet your toes, because this short 1.5 mile hike has a number of water crossings. The idyllic Blue Hole swimming hole has both a pool and a shallow creek for sitting. This is also a fantastic spot for pup-walking or, if you’re still only a wannabe dog parent, pup-watching!
Crabtree Falls (Nelson County)
This perfect half-day hike winds up through the woods, with at least a glimpse of the cascading falls for almost the entire time. The waterfall is the tallest east of the Mississippi River, at around 1,000 feet high, and its roar is soothing in the extreme. Around 2.5 miles long, ending at the top of the falls and with views that can only be described as food for the soul, Crabtree Falls trail may be the most restorative of Law Weekly’s recommended hikes. Bring a book (for fun, not school, duh), bring some lunch or just cookies (the perfect snack for any peak), go with friends or alone (you’ll end up running into some dogs with their humans almost any day of the week, so it won’t be an utterly lonely wander in the wilderness) . . . and if you go in October, the trees will be flaming with color, AND you might see a seasonally-appropriate, neon orange pumpkin spider!
Hidden Gems from Seasoned Hiker Dani Gibbons ’21
Devil’s Marbleyard—This location is an hour and a half away from the Law School, but it is sure to please. Enjoy an easy hike up to the yard before ascending straight up for a mile on a hill covered in enormous marble boulders. There is no solid ground! Consider this one of the more challenging options on our list. Dani’s pro-tip? When you descend, stay to the right (facing the hill) and use the solid ground path. Also, go on a cooler day, because there’s no shade to be found here.
Sharp Top/The Peaks of Otter—This Virginia classic is around two hours from school. Sharp Top is a moderately steep 1.5 mile hike up with a 360-degree view that makes it the most popular of the Peaks of Otter, although the other two peaks are unique and enjoyable hikes in their own right.
Need hiking buddies? Section-mates abhor nature and its accompanying creepy-crawlies? We at Law Weekly tip our hats off to OVAL (Outdoors at Virginia Law), the club that organizes great retreats and hikes throughout the year.