Rice Fields AT Shelter

  • Highlights: Mountain meadow, AT shelter, great views
  • Distance: 5.2 miles out and back
  • Elevation Change: 1,259 feet
  • Trail Surface: Rocky
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate (rocky surface, elevation gain)
  • Trailhead Parking: From Blacksburg US 460 west, turn left on Route 641, in 1.5 miles turn left on to Pocahontas Road. In 150 yards reach the AT crossing and a small parking area on the right.
  • Website: AllTrails
  • Beer Pairings: Rising Silo Farm Brewery—Treerider IPA & Goat’s Eye Rye

The Hike:

Rice Fields is a mountain-top meadow on the Appalachian Trail. During the warmer months, the meadow is ablaze with wildflowers, butterflies, and birds. The trail is well marked and well maintained. The most challenging part of the hike is finding the trailhead. Pocahontas Road is an unpaved National Forest Service Road. The small parking area just past the AT crossing on the right has space for about six vehicles.

To reach the trailhead, walk on the road back to the AT crossing and turn right on the white-blazed AT heading north. The climb begins immediately and continues gradually for the next 2 1/2 miles. In the summer months, wildflowers line the trail. We encountered a rare Scarlet Tanager splashing in a puddle beside the trail. After a pleasant hike through the forest, reach the summit at 2.4 miles. The grassy meadow is home to a variety of flowering plants and has great views to the west and east. A short spur trail to the right leads to the AT shelter and privy.

Continue north on the AT through the meadow to the edge of the forest at 2.6 miles. To the left are views of West Virginia. In the summer months, wild raspberries and blueberries make a great trail-side snack. A variety of flowering plants have a colorful display from spring to fall. Retrace your steps heading south on the AT to return to your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Rising Silo Brewing in Blacksburg is located about 30 minutes from the trailhead. This farm brewery is solar powered and all beers are brewed with exclusively organic malts and water from the farm’s well. Their 3-barrel brewing system incorporates fresh ingredients from Glade Road Growing and other local farms.

Rising Silo has indoor and outdoor seating with live music on weekends. The farm kitchen uses farm produce and offers a variety of food options including pizza, salads, sandwiches, and burgers.

Kathy really liked Treerider (6% ABV & 60 IBU) an IPA with an earthy and fruity bitterness. Brewed with Simcoe, Mosaic, and Ekuanot hops and Golden Promise Pale Malts. This is a really good IPA. Pete enjoyed Goat’s Eye Rye (5.8% ABV & 68 IBU), brewed with American Warrior and Centennial hops and dry-hopped with Saaz and Northern Brewer for an earthy and evergreen aroma.  

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.