Settler’s Museum to Glade Mountain

  • Highlights: Great Valley views, Appalachian Trail, open air museum
  • Distance: 6.2 miles out and back
  • Elevation Change 1,339 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt with some rocky sections
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate/strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: Settler’s Museum, 1322 Rocky Hollow Road, Atkins VA
  • Website: Smyth County AT Hikes and Settler’s Museum of Southwest Virginia
  • Beer Pairings: Moon Dog Pizza, Marion—Cold Hearted IPA & Cedar Run IPA

Trail Map:

The Hike:

This Appalachian Trail section hike doesn’t show up on AllTrails or most hiking websites. It’s a shame as this hike has views of the Great Valley, an AT shelter, several stream crossings, and what may be the longest rhododendron tunnel on the AT. The trailhead is located at an open air museum—what’s not to like?

Plan this hike for a weekend when the museum is open. Learn about early settlers and view the restored 19th-century living history farm complete with farmhouse and eight original outbuildings, and tour the restored 1894 one-room schoolhouse. Restrooms are located at the visitor center.

The AT passes right through the property near the schoolhouse. This hike begins southbound on the AT so turn left and follow the white-blazed AT as it enters the forest. The trail soon reaches a clearing with overhead power lines and then the green tunnel resumes. 

Less than a mile into the hike begins a long (over one mile) long stand of rhododendron. Bloom time is typically late spring. On our hike in early May we saw lots of buds but no blooms. The AT crosses Vaught Branch several times. Rock hopping and a rustic footbridge help keep your feet dry.

Cross a forest service road at 1.6 miles and at 1.9 miles reach the Chatfield Memorial Shelter. We always enjoy reading AT shelter logs. We met several thru hikers who began their journey at Springer Mountain GA several months earlier. Their stories are inspiring and we hope they all finish their hike safely.

The climb up Glade Mountain begins in earnest after the shelter. The rhododendrons begin to thin out a bit but still line sections of the trail. At 3.1 miles reach an opening to the west with views of Walker Mountain and the Great Valley. A gathering storm diminished our views a bit (and encouraged us to make it back to the Settler’s Museum before the storm arrived). Retrace your steps heading north on the AT to return to the parking area and your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

36° Fifty Brewing in Marion is about 15 minutes from the trailhead. This micro-brewery has indoor seating, occasional food trucks, and six taps. They are only open on Saturdays. A tasty alternative in Marion is Moon Dog Pizza. In addition to brick oven pizza, salads, and sandwiches, they have a variety of craft beers on tap.

Moon Dog was featuring a tap takeover by 7 Dogs Brewpub in nearby Wytheville.  Pete enjoyed a pint of Cedar Run IPA (6.2% ABV • 50 IBU), a west coast-style IPA with just the right amount of hoppiness and no fruit notes. Kathy tried Cold Hearted IPA (7.0% ABV • 70 IBU) which is dry-hopped with Centennial during a cold fermentation. She liked the grapefruit notes and thought it resembled a hazy IPA. The pizza was top notch—a great place to relax post-hike. 

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