Mar 6, 2007

Take a hike: Exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains of Central Virginia

by Hillary Sutton, Life! Reporter
As chilling old man winter finally begins to vacate his throne in Lynchburg and flip-flopped feet reassemble on the campus of Liberty University, now is the perfect time to explore the many hiking trails in and near our area.

For many students, the beautiful outdoors was once a contributing factor in choosing to attend Liberty for college. But as schedules fill and work and school demands increase, the once-valued panorama and hiking opportunities have been placed at the bottom of the priority list.

Many students will only live in the Lynchburg area for four to five years, so the priority of taking advantage of the beautiful landscape surrounding Liberty should be taken and appreciated with fervor.

The first hike that all freshmen should experience — and upperclassmen if they have not yet — is the Peaks of Otter. Located only about a half hour away from Liberty in Bedford County, the Sharp Top hike at the Peaks of Otter is a 1.4-mile hike that is great for beginners. Its summit stands at 3,372 feet. The view overlooks the other mountains in the area and beautiful Abbott Lake. The hike can be leisurely completed from start to finish in an afternoon. With travel time to and from Liberty, students only need to set aside 3-4 hours.

The enjoyment of the outdoors in Central Virginia is certainly not limited to hiking alone. Matt Arbo, a Liberty graduate student and avid outdoorsmen who has hiked the Appalachian Trail, said, “For those who seek fellowship with the wilderness, Lynchburg is a great locale because you have the James River, wilderness areas to the North — mainly George Washington National Forest — caving in Augusta County and all of the hiking.”

Arbo’s top hiking recommendation for all students to experience  is “the Mount Pleasant Loop. It’s a 6-mile hike that takes you up to the top of Mt. Pleasant where there are two separate peaks. You can see almost a 360-degree view from the top.” The Mount Pleasant Loop is only about 45 minutes from the Liberty campus.

If you are interested in making the exploration of the outdoors in the central Virginia area a serious hobby, you may want to check out the Hiker’s Outpost in Wyndhurst, a locally-owned store that sells clothing, shoes, and hiking and camping gear.

Also, a great way to get started hiking is to take advantage of the free day trips provided by Student Activities. Last fall, a group hiked Sharp Top. Student Activities will be hosting another free hike on Saturday, March 31, to Devil’s Marbleyard. Sign-ups will be in the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall.

There is no better time to explore the outdoors and enjoy creation than right now. When walking by a babbling brook or standing on the peak of one of the Blue Ridge Mountains, one cannot help but be reminded of the awe-inspiring creativity and magnitude of our creator.

The same God not only offers salvation to those who will receive it, but also gives us the freedom to enjoy the natural wonders of His world.

Contact Hilary Sutton at hlsutton@liberty.edu.
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