A little “peace” of heaven just off the Blue Ridge Parkway

Pilot's Perch Cabins

Hiking Doughton Park, A Hike Back in Time

Doughton Park has been on our list of top ten hikes near Fancy Gap for awhile, and I recently had the pleasure of hiking one of its many trails.

Doughton Park is noteworthy for open meadows, remote creek-hopping trails, and cabins and ruins from the late 19th and early 20th century mountain community.

There are craft demonstrations and ranger talks throughout the summer and a campground open seasonally. Hikes range from a short walk at Fodder Stack Trail to the strenuous 7.5-mile Bluff Mountain Trail. Visit the Brinegar Cabin or hike into Basin Cove to view the Caudill Family Homestead.

The Brinegar Cabin

The Brinegar Cabin, one of two historical cabins in the park, provides a view into life in these mountains a hundred plus years ago. The cabin is typically staffed with volunteers or park rangers from late May through October from 10 AM to 5 PM.

You can find the seasonal schedule and hours here.

The author of this blog has done an excellent job of conveying the beauty of the cabin and the area around the park. He provides some useful information about the cabin and the Brinegar family farm:

In 1876 Martin Brinegar purchased this 125-acre farm from Henderson Crouse, Caroline Joines’ uncle, for $200. Two years later, at age 21, Martin Brinegar married Caroline, who was 16. They lived on this farm for nearly 60 years. The property consists of a cabin, a shed, and a springhouse, which is where perishable goods were stored.

You’ll find more about the cabin here.

Basin Creek Trail in Doughton Park

The Basin Creek Trail winds along and across the creek that cuts its way down the mountain.

When I hiked the trail late autumn, the leaves covering the rocks and roots added to the treacherous footing along the trail, which requires some tricky creek crossings.

I started at the parking lot at Grassy Creek Fire Road and Longbottom Road. Taking the trail across Longbottom Road from the parking lot starts the hike.

Doughton-Park-Trail-Head

From here, a flat 1.5 mile walk up the fire road takes you along a creek…

Doughton-Park-Waterfall

over a bridge…

Doughton-Park-Bridge-Cropped

through a primitive campground…

Doughton-Park-Creek-from-Bridge

to the Basin Creek trailhead.

Basin-Creek-Trail-Sign

The trail winds from here 3.3 tree-covered miles along Basin Creek. Chimney stacks are all that remain of the community that once dotted this valley.

The trail climbs the mountain and opens up to a meadow and the Caudill Cabin.

The Caudill Cabin

The Caudill Cabin is the last remaining home in the narrow Basin Creek valley, which was decimated in the great Flood of 1916.

Caudill-Cabin

The valley was pounded by rains from two successive hurricanes. The rest of the homes, which housed 40-50 men, women and children, were levelled by the down-rushing torrents and resulting landslides.

Caudill-Family-Picture

You can find more about the 1916 flood here and here.

Other Particulars of Doughton Park

  • Location: Blue Ridge Parkway MM 238.1-241
  • Directions: From Fancy Gap, take the Blue Ridge Parkway south to mile marker 238.1.
  • Distance: multiple hikes for a total of 30 miles
  • Skill Level: easy to strenuous
  • Highlights: creeks, waterfalls, local history, cabins
  • Web Site
  • Trails