The Student News Site of Bridgewater College


The Student News Site of Bridgewater College


The Student News Site of Bridgewater College


Student Athlete Focus: Kennedy Fauntleroy

Hiking Tips for College Students

Kinley Woodard
The view from a trail Kaylor’s Knob found in Massanutten. The valley can be seen through the trees.

Bridgewater, Va.- Being in the Blue Ridge Mountains, there are a multitude of activities to do including hiking, skiing, and going to vineyards, caverns, and breweries. With the mountains surrounding the area here at Bridgewater College, hiking is an activity of leisure and there is easy access to trails for all levels of difficulty. 

There are several hiking options within ten minutes of Bridgewater College. There are a variety of places to go such as local parks in town, the George Washington National Forest, Massanutten’s hiking trails and Shenandoah National Park. You just have to start exploring to find places to go hike.  

Virginia hiker, Suzanne Occiano said, “Virginia has quite a few Wilderness Areas. It really sparked an interest in hiking.” 

Bridgewater students sophomore Olivia Bates, sophomore Elizabeth Hipp and freshman Summer Wallace hiking. They hiked during the fall when the leaves were changing colors. (Kinley Woodard)

Back in 2018, Occiano hiked the Appalachian Trail that runs from Springer Mountian., Georgia, to Mountain. Katahdin, Maine. Occiano hiked from Feb. 20, 2018 to July 30, 2018. Occiano said that she got into hiking by signing up for a “Wilderness Act Challenge,” where she had to hike 10 miles in 12 different wilderness areas of national forest.  

Occiano gave insight about a multitude of commodities when it comes to hiking. She talks about her experiences with hiking the Appalachian Trail  by talking about her struggles and said, “The biggest struggles for me while doing an AT thru-hike were the weather, nutrition and having the motivation to keep hiking day after day.” Occiano’s advice when her motivation is low is to find something new everyday to look forward to. 

Gear that Occiano suggests using for long hikes, like the Appalachian Trail, is to use the company Z-packs.

“Z-packs is an online ultralight gear company that I use for backpacking,” said Occiano. “I use their Duplex tent & Arc Blast backpack (been discontinued). A good sleeping bag and pad are crucial too. These are your Big 3! Comfortable shoes, extra socks, rain gear, water purification, navigation and first aid are key.”

For more insight into hiking, people should visit a national forest or national park visitor center. US Forest Service Ranger Katlyn Williard talks about visitor centers and said,

A fire watch tower on a hike on High Knob trail. People can see the valley by climbing the watchtower. (Kinley Woodard)

The staff there are trained to help you find hikes in the area depending on what kind of hike you are looking for. They also offer paper maps and great advice on directions and parking.” 

Being safe while hiking is important. Here are some tips from National Park Ranger Allysah Fox, US Forest Service Williard and Hiker Occiano to help you and your friends make safe decisions while hiking:

Tip #1: Hike with a buddy or find a hiking group to join. 

Tip #2: Have a plan. Before you go and hike, make sure that you have researched the trail you want to hike so you know the difficulty level, length and experience. Williard says to “use the app AllTrails to look for hikes based on [your] location. You can gain so much great information about hike locations, distance and current trail conditions by looking at recent reviews.” 

Tip #3: Wear hiking boots or shoes and layers while hiking because of the rapid change in weather conditions. Occiano recommends the 10 basic essentials for hiking to know what you should wear. 

Tip #4: Stick to designated trails to avoid getting lost. Willard suggests “[having] either a map downloaded on [your] phone, or understanding [your] hiking route.”

Tip #5: Carry plenty of water, snacks, a first-aid kit, a map or trusted GPS device, an external battery for your phone, a whistle, sunscreen and a flashlight. Fox said, “Cell phone service is not guaranteed in the park. Bring your phone, but do not rely on your phone.”

Tip #6: Get to know the wildlife in the area you are in and know how to react if and when you encounter the wildlife. 

Tip #7: Leave No Trace. This is so people can preserve nature and reduce pollution. 

A hiking trail in the Shenandoah valley in the fall during foliage. During the fall foliage the leaves change colors and start to fall. (Kinley Woodard)

Here are recommended places to hike near Bridgewater College for students:

  1. Hidden Rocks  3.3-mile trail out and back
  2. Shenandoah Mountain Trail-Jerrys Run to Sexton Cabin  6-mile trail out and back
  3. High Knob  3-mile trail out and back.
  4. Trimble Mountain Trail and Todd Lake  4-mile loop trail
  5. Reddish Knob 1.5 miles (or longer)
  6. North River Gorge 4.5-mile trail one-way
  7. Hone Quarry Ridge  5.1-mile loop trail
  8. Hardscrabble Knob 7-mile trail out and back
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About the Contributor
Kinley Woodard
Kinley Woodard, Staff Writer
Major Communication Technology and Culture Minor Religion and Philosophy  Junior, Class 2025 I’m hoping to get news writing experience by joining BC Voice.