Rockfish River Trail

  • Highlights: Views, wildflowers, bird watching, Rockfish River
  • Distance: 2.6 miles out and back
  • Elevation change: 120 feet
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Trailhead Parking: Rockfish Valley Trail Trailhead parking area, Route 151, Nellysford VA
  • Website: AllTrails and Rockfish Valley Trail System
  • Beer Pairings: Brewing Tree Beer Co.—Chapter 2 IPA & Flip Flop Pilsner

The Hike:

This easy hike travels beside the North Fork of the Rockfish River and has nice valley and mountain views. The Rockfish Valley Trail System comprises five trails with future plans to link them all together. The trail is not well marked, take a photo of the trail map at the kiosk in the parking area. The kiosk also has information on the many types of birds and butterflies which can be spotted on the trail. 

Turn left at the kiosk and follow the Rockfish River Trail west as it parallels the river on the right and a meadow on the left. Ahead are great views of Three Ridges. Bluebird houses and wildflowers line the trail. There are several river viewpoints along the way. 

At the western end of the trail is a field of wildflowers, the Blue Toad Cidery, and Three Ridges looming in the distance. The trail will eventually continue to Blue Toad, but as of 2021 you must turn around here and retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

At the parking area, bear left and follow the trail under Route 151. The river is now on the left and pastureland on your right. At the first trail junction, bear right and follow the Glenthorne Trail as it loops around a bog which is home to even more wildflowers, birds, and butterflies. 

If you want longer hike that passes beside Devil’s Backbone, continue on the Glenthorne Trail and cross route 151. However, this hike loops around the bog. At the 2nd junction, bear right and stay straight as the trail rejoins the Rockfish River Trail. The river will soon appear on your right. Continue on the trail passing under Route 151 and return to the parking area and your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

There are several breweries and cideries located nearby: Devil’s Backbone, Wild Wolf, Blue Toad, and Bold Rock. The Beech Grove Trail connects Devil’s Backbone and Blue Toad. We had heard great things about Brewing Tree Beer Company in nearby Afton and decided to give them a try.

Located about 10 minutes north on Route 151, Brewing Tree is the brainchild of Mark and Gina Thompson. Mark was one of the founders of Starr Hill Brewery and Gina is a sommelier and chef. The end result is great beer and food in a fun atmosphere with river, meadow, and mountain views. The brewery is kid and dog friendly with indoor and outdoor seating and live music on weekends.

Pete really liked Flip Flop Pilsner, a European-style pilsner with a little bit of hoppiness and a dry finish. Kathy enjoyed Chapter 2, a northwest-style IPA brewed with Cascade and Willamette hops. Brewing Tree’s Scratch Kitchen serves up some amazing food which pairs nicely with their beers. We are already looking for nearby hikes so we can make a return visit to Brewing Tree.

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