Abbott Lake Trail: An Easy Blue Ridge Parkway Hike in Bedford, Virginia

Abbott Lake is a 24-acre man-made lake that was created in 1964 and sits next to the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 85.6 in Bedford County, Virginia.

The Abbott Lake Trail, a paved 1.0-mile loop, encircles the small lake, boasting scenic views of  Sharp Top, a 3,875 foot tall mountain.

Abbott Lake Trail Sign

This scenic freshwater lake is located behind the Peaks of Otter Lodge and across the Blue Ridge Parkway from the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center.

Abbott Lake is popular among walkers and hikers, as well as anglers eager to catch smallmouth bass and bluegill.

Trail Stats
Length1.0 mile
Trail TypeLoop
Elevation Gain33 feet
Duration45-60 minutes
Driving DirectionsClick Here

Abbott Lake Trail

To access the Abbott Lake Trail, park at Peaks of Otter Lodge or in the parking lot adjacent to Polly Wood’s Ordinary, a small log cabin once run as an inn.

From Polly Wood’s Ordinary, a short side trail leads to the Abbott Lake Trail. Since it’s a loop, you can start in either direction.

Abbott Lake Trail

This paved trail is very flat, with an elevation gain of just 33 feet over the course of the lake loop. This trail has it all, too.

On the east side of the lake, adjacent to Peaks of Otter Lodge, there are lots of benches that face Sharp Top Mountain.

Keep your eyes open for a rock with a plaque that shares the scoop on Stanley William Abbott, the esteemed namesake of Abbott Lake.

Stanley Abbott Plaque

Abbott was the first resident landscape architect and planner of the Blue Ridge Parkway. He passed away in 1975.

On the lake’s west side, the trail leads walkers through shaded woodlands. A side trail on the west side leads to the Peaks of Otter Campground.

Fishing at Abbott Lake

Also on the west side, there is an accessible fishing pier that faces Flat Top Mountain, which is just behind the Peaks of Otter Lodge.

A note about fishing. You must have a valid freshwater fishing license to fish at Lake Abbott. You must use artificial lures, too. Live bait is prohibited.

Abbott Lake Fishing Pier

It’s also worth noting that smallmouth bass are protected in Virginia and are catch-and-release only at Lake Abbott.

At Lake Abbott, fishing is only allowed from the shoreline. Boats are not allowed on Lake Abbott. Swimming is also not permitted at Lake Abbott.

Blue Ridge Parkway Trails

The Abbott Lake Trail is a stone’s throw from several other popular hiking trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

From the north side of the lake, a wooden boardwalk crosses over a wetlands area and leads to a tunnel that goes under the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Johnson Farmhouse

On the other side, you can pick up the Johnson Farm Trail, an easy loop hiking trail that leads to a historic farm that dates to 1854.

This loop trail also connects with a wooded trail that goes to Harkening Hill, one of the three iconic Peaks of Otter hikes.

The other two mountain peaks are Flat Top and Sharp Top. Visitors can also hike the 0.8-mile Elk Run Trail, which starts just behind the visitor center.

Flat Top Sign

From Abbott Lake, near Polly Wood’s Ordinary, hikers can even start a 4.4-mile out-and-back hike to the top of Flat Top for wide-open mountain views.

Wrap-Up Notes

The Abbott Lake Trail generally takes less than 45 minutes to complete. There’s no need to rush when there are views of Sharp Top and Flat Top.

Sharp Top Store

In-season, you may want to stop over to the Sharp Top Store for souvenirs and sundries. The Peaks of Otter Lodge also has a full-service restaurant.

Both are open from spring to fall. They are closed during the winter, though of course, you can hike the Abbott Lake Trail year-round.