I was in search of the Woodbooger. Okay, not really. But, I knew I was going to find him near the end of my hike to Flag Rock Overlook in Norton, Virginia.
There’s a statue of the Woodbooger, too. It’s just steps from Flag Rock Overlook and has been lurking high above downtown Norton since 2015. If I didn’t see him on the trail, I’d see him – or his statue – at the overlook.
|Elevation Gain||965 feet|
|Terrain||Mostly dirt & rock trails|
|Driving Directions||Click Here|
Arriving at the Trailhead
The trail for this 2.9-mile out-and-back hike begins at the back of Legion Park in Norton. Here you’ll also find a picnic shelter and a good-size parking area.
Interestingly, this multi-use Flag Rock trail (shared with mountain bikes) doesn’t have a name beyond “Legion Park.” On the yellow-blazed trail, simply follow signs to the Overlook. On the return, follow signs to Legion Park.
The First Steps
The mostly gravel trail starts out simply enough. Set in the Jefferson National Forest, it’s a wide and shady trail. There are two delightful bridges to cross over streams (or what used to be streams).
At the .1-mile mark, cross over State Route 619. This is the main road that leads to Flag Rock Recreation Area, Flag Rock Overlook and High Knob Tower.
From here, the trail narrows and you’ll begin to see yellow blazes. As in, bright-yellow diamonds nailed to trees along the trail.
Then, the trail gets steep. Like, really steep. So steep. Near the .4-mile mark, you’ll get a bit of break when the trail veers to the left.
In .1-mile, the trail veers back to the right, and again gets steep. There seems to be a pattern. A very steep section, then a bit of a break. Repeat, repeat.
At the .6-mile mark, you’ll reach a trail sign that points to the left for the Flag Rock Overlook. Then, another steep section, another leveled off section.
At the 1-mile mark, stay right for the yellow-blazed trail to the overlook. When I hiked this trail (September 2020), it looked as though new mountain biking trails were being created to criss-cross this hiking trail.
In another .1-mile, you will reach the top. You’re not yet at the overlook, but you are out of the woods. You’ll see a restroom building on your left.
From here, it won’t be entirely obvious where to go. What you want to do is step out to Flag Rock Road and turn left. Follow this all the way around to the overlook.
On the way, you will see various picnic tables, as well as a yellow-blaze for the reservoir. Just stay on Flag Rock Road to the end. Do not turn right for the reservoir.
From the restrooms, it’s a .4-mile walk to a loop parking area. This is where visitors can park to walk to the overlook without hiking up the steep dirt and rock trail.
Just before you reach the overlook, you will see the Woodbooger statue on your right. Snap as many photos as you like. The overlook is another few steps past the statue.
The west-facing Flag Rock Overlook views are fantastic. I wasn’t able to be at the overlook at sunset, but I can only imagine it’s the perfect place to watch the sun dip below the horizon.
Since this is an out-and-back hike, simply retrace your steps to the parking area at Legion Park.
From the parking area, this hike took me nearly 90 minutes, including time spent taking pictures of the Woodbooger statue and enjoying the cityscape views.
Once you’ve completed this hike, turn right out of the Legion Park parking area onto State Route 619. Turn left onto Forest Road to High Knob Tower.
From Legion Park, it’s a 12-minute drive to High Knob Tower, which also boasts fantastic views of Norton.
It’s a .25-mile walk from the parking area to the top of the lookout tower. Keep in mind that this is not the High Knob Fire Tower, which is in Harrisonburg.
For a bite, and more Woodbooger fun, try the Woodbooger Grill on Park Avenue in Norton. Did I mention the Woodbooger also has a triathlon? He is seriously so famous.
Those keen to stay overnight in search of the Woodbooger will be happy to know that there is a scenic 18-site campground at Flag Rock Recreation Area.