Two small airplanes went down in the Humpback Rocks area in the 1960s. This 10 mile run on the AT and the Albright trail takes in both wreckage sites, along with a very short side trek to Humpback Rocks. The Beechcraft Bonanza wreck off the Albright trail is not too difficult to find any time of year, but the T-28 wreck off the AT is much harder to find, and it is advised that you go with someone who has been there before, and go when foliage is down. The terrain can be technical, especially the off-trail part.
Please do not remove any pieces of either wreckage.
Start/Finish: Humpback Rocks Parking, milepost 6 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, across from the visitor center and mountain farm exhibit.
Stats: 10 miles, 2450′ of gain/loss. ~3 hours at an easy pace, plus time to view the wrecks. Strava link
Details: Go north out of the parking lot on the blue Albright trail, away from the trail leading up to Humpback Rocks. In a few hundred yards, take a left where the trail splits. At about 1.3 miles, just before a switchback, look for a worn path up the hill on the right. This leads to the Beechcraft wreck of April 1963. All occupants (two or three are the numbers I’ve heard) died in the wreck, and it was not discovered for another year.
Continue on the Albright trail for another 3/4 mile to where it intersects with the AT. Turn right (south). In about 5 miles, look for a decaying reddish nurse log just before another log across the trail with a step cut into it. 37.94565N 78.90115 W are the GPS coordinates for the wreck itself. Unfortunately I’ve lost the coordinates of exactly where to get off the AT. At that nurse log, you go down the hill (southeast). Look for the thickest tree, and go past it, about 300 yards total. The terrain is easier to
the right, and you may find a corner of an old stone building; go left from there. Confused? As I said, it’s best to go with someone who’s been there before, and it’s very difficult to spot unless leaves are down.
Nelson County Life (now Blue Ridge Life) has a story on this T-28 Plane Wreck in 1964. As the story notes, both occupants were able to eject unharmed. More pictures and details.
Back on the AT, you can continue another 1/2 mile south to “Battery Cliffs”, a rocky outcropping looking over to Wintergreen, or just head back north to Humpback Rocks. In about 1.5 miles stay straight on the blue Humpback Rocks trail rather than turning right to stay on the AT. Shortly ahead, stay straight to go to Humpback Rocks, or just turn left to go back down to the starting point.
For a shorter alternate trek to the T-28, start at the picnic area around MP 8.7. Take the blue trail from the back end of that to the AT, and turn left (north), and go about 1.5 miles north.