Updated: Apr 28, 2018
At the Peaks of Otter area, which is at milepost 86 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can go up to the top of Sharp Top Mountain. It's a steep, rocky, 1.5 mile hike to the top of the mountain ... so I took the shuttle bus up to the top. ;) Even then, it is about another 1500 feet of rocky climb to get to the peak. But oh my is it worth it!
Sharp Top has altitude of 3,875 feet and is one of the highest peaks in Virginia, and I must say, ridiculously awesome views from the top. They have markers set in the stone walls pointing out the other mountain peaks in view. And there was some strange swarm of giant gnats at the very top.
I came across a deer feeding along the trail just before I got back to the bus shelter area. It stayed there for a long time even as I got closer. And despite there being reports of bears in the area, I am glad to report that we did not see any at all.
Then I checked out the Fallingwater Cascades which are cool, secluded waterfalls at milepost 83 on the Parkway. The hike is downhill going to the falls which, of course, means it's all uphill coming back. Dang!