Sharp Top Mountain and the Peaks of Otter, which are three mountain peaks (Sharp Top, 2008 Sharp Top Mt, Bedford, VA.jpg (155914 bytes)Flat Top and Harkening Hill) with man-made Abbott Lake lying in the valley between the three peaks. Sharp Top, one of Virginia's famous twin peaks, elevation 3,875 feet, has been a popular spot to see spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains since the days of Thomas Jefferson. Most of our mountains are long ridges that stretch on for miles with no easily discernable or precisely defined summit. Sharp Top is a roughly cone shaped massif that tapers upward to a singular point, just the way you drew a mountain as a child. It's so perfectly shaped, I guess we can excuse our Founding Fathers for thinking this was the tallest mountain in Virginia. Sharp Top was long thought to be Virginia's tallest mountain, when in fact, it is not even the tallest of "The Peaks of Otter," which is formed by the triangulation of the three.  Nearby Flat Top rises to 4,001 feet, while Harkening Hill apex reaches 3,372 feet, and of course Mount Rogers near the North Carolina border is Virginia state's tallest mountain at 5,729.  Seven trails meander throughout this recreational area, traversing old-growth hardwood forests, open meadows, rocky outcrops, a cascading waterfall, streamside woodlands, and lake habitats. Today a shuttle bus follows an old carriage trail to the top. Starting at trailhead you can take an awesome hike up a mile and a half trail to the top of Sharp Top that has a shelter at the peak and enjoy an unbelievable view of the the Blue Ridge Range from this observation point. This is a rather rocky steep accent, and a little more than a mile, the trail splits at the ridgeline, with the right fork leading to Buzzard Roost (a rock formation with stunting vista).  The left trail heads straight for the summit, it continues another quarter-mile, climbing steeply through and around bluffs and huge rocks. They have added stone steps and railing to the last and steepest of the accent, to finally reaching the very sharp top of Sharp Top, which provides a 360-degree view over the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Piedmont to the east (Bedford and even Lynchburg are visible on clear days) and the Shenandoah Valley to the west, with the Allegheny Mountains and West Virginia far to the west. You have hiked 1,340 feet vertically from the 2,535 feet elevation trailhead (parking lot) to the summit. This is a must do thing, breath-taking views, looking out over the expanse of the Piedmont and Shenandoah valley and to the west seeing multiple waves of ranges, its easy to understand why early settlers where fooled. The summit is mostly exposed granite boulders.  A sign reads: "That the Virginia stone in the Washington Monument come from Otter's summit."  Make sure you take another trail back down to Buzzard's Roost and view the range looking back toward Sharp Top Mountain.  Senior citizens can use a paved golf cart trail that goes very near the top.  The above picture is Sharp Top, view from milepost 86 on the Blue Ridge Parkway which also allows beautiful views of Peaks of Otter, milepost 84 - 87.  The Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant, located at milepost 86 on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Bedford, Virginia and open year round is a must visit, you won't be disappointed. Locals brag about their Sunday morning breakfast.  Here is a link to Harkening Hill and click on the pictures, also viewing Sharp Top from the Peaks of Otter Lodge.  View Pictures of Sharp Top   You may have hear the tragic story about 5 brave young Army airmen dying on a cold February 2, 1943 night when their B-25 "Billy Mitchell" bomber crashed into the Southwest slope of Sharp Top Mountain. Some of the wreckage remains there from that fatal WWII training navigation mission.  Visit Bedford Museum.

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