Before you know it, winter will have melted away and spring will be beckoning you to the great outdoors. Start with Virginia’s Blue Ridge, a paradise of outdoor adventures and scenic beauty. Hike a bit of the Appalachian Trail, fish a mountain lake, drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, run on a gorgeous greenway … the options are endless. Here’s some help narrowing it down.
Hike a Piece of the Appalachian Trail
Anyone will tell you to hike to the McAfee Knob first and foremost—the most photographed location on the Appalachian Trail. For an 8.5-mile round-trip hike, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the mountains and a breathtaking experience of Virginia’s wilderness.
Visit Smith Mountain Lake
Pick your spot from 500 miles of beautiful shoreline. Fish, camp, picnic, or just relax by the water with the family. Boat rentals and lodging are available in multiple locations along the lake. This area is a destination in and of itself if you are looking to escape for a weekend.
Mountain Bike at Carvins Cove Natural Reserve
The second largest municipal park in the US, Carvins Cove has plenty to offer—over 60 miles of scenic multi-use trails, including 50 miles of singletrack for epic mountain biking. Load up your bike or tie on those walking shoes for a day at the Reserve.
Check out the Upper James River Water Trail
“Wet” your appetite (pun totally intended) for Virginia paddling on this gorgeous waterway with its cascading falls and rock walls. If paddling is not your deal, you can enjoy a tranquil picnic on the banks, or fish for fresh trout.
Ready for the ultimate American auto-tour? The Blue Ridge Parkway is addictive, so beware; it boasts grand views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, cozy picnic spots, overlooks with historical information, access to numerous hiking trails, and surprises around every hairpin turn. Take in a view from above and spend an hour or two exploring this incredible scenic byway.
Enjoy 30 Miles of Lush Greenway
Maybe you want to get in a good power walk or run, but want to stay away from the woods? The Roanoke Valley Greenways may serve your purpose. Traipse over bridges, through the trees, and past lovely views of the city and of the mountains as you enjoy Virginia’s Blue Ridge from the comfort of the path.
Try Geocaching in Roanoke
For an outdoor adventure right in town, consider geocaching, which is growing in popularity throughout the world. There are geocaches in downtown Roanoke and scattered throughout the area. Check in at the Roanoke Valley Visitor Information Center to learn more.
Rock Climb on the Dragon’s Tooth Trail
Now for a challenge. The Dragon’s Tooth sounds a bit rough, and it is; expect a tough hike with an amazing payoff. This rugged trail will take you past rock outcroppings, astonishing views, and of course, to the Dragon’s Tooth itself, a spire of rock standing 35 feet above its surroundings.
Visit Virginia’s State Parks
Picnic, hike, fish, watch wildlife, or just relax with the family at one of Virginia’s beautiful State Parks. Close at hand, you’ll find Smith Mountain Lake State Park, Fairy Stone State Park, and Claytor Lake State Park, all of which offer camping and cabin rentals in addition to great water access.
Hike the Mill Mountain Star Trail
Doesn’t it sound intriguing? Believe it or not, this trail really does take you to a star—the world’s largest freestanding man-made one, overlooking Roanoke Valley. Start at Mill Mountain’s base and work your way to the summit, where you can check out the star and the views, and enjoy a family picnic while you’re there.
Take A Trip To Roaring Run
For a family-friendly adventure, try an excursion to Roaring Run Recreation Area. Walk along a trail that follows the Roaring Run stream past rock walls and over footbridges. You will also find a 19th century iron ore furnace that was used during the pre-Civil War era. Plan for a picnic here or an afternoon of pleasant fishing.
See The World On Sharp Top Mountain
The Sharp Top Mountain trail will take you to a photographer’s dream—360-degree views of the mountains, the valleys below, and of the Peaks of Otter Lodge. Excellent, challenging hiking abounds here, and visitors can enjoy close proximity to the action by checking in at the Lodge, which boasts delicious buffet meals and even better views. This area is also a fisherman’s paradise, as nearby Abbott Lake is chock full of bass, catfish, blue gill, and more.
Ready to plan your vacation to Virginia’s Blue Ridge? Learn more about lodging, dining, and additional outdoor activities at VisitVABlueRidge.com.