From rugged mountainous terrain to calm coastal flatlands, Virginia has no shortage of cycling options with amazing scenery.
Virginia Creeper Trail
For a less physical way to bike and enjoy the fall foliage, check out one of Virginia’s rails-to-trails routes where old railroad grades have been converted into multi-use recreation trails that are perfect for scenic, peaceful pedaling.
The Tobacco Heritage Trail is an ambitious project that will eventually be more than 170 miles long and encompass six counties. Completed sections of the trail can be accessed in La Crosse, Brodnax and Lawrenceville. In Victoria two miles of the trail is complete. (map)
Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail meanders through the countryside in Nelson and Amherstcounties in Central Virginia, affording views of rolling hills and farms as well as the river, where little evidence of civilization meets the eye.
Perhaps Virginia’s most well-known rails-to-trails effort is the Virginia Creeper Trail in the southwest. It’s 34.3 miles of varying climates thanks to the mountainous altitude. Bike rentals and shuttle service are available along the way in Abingdon, Damascus and Whitetop.
High Bridge Trail State Park
Guest River Gorge Trail in Southwest Virginia follows an old railroad right of way paralleling the Guest River, a Virginia Scenic River. Millions of years ago the Guest River eroded a passage through Stone Mountain on its way to join the Clinch River. Cutting through massive rock, it opened a deep rock corridor that is a scenic wonder. Other sights along the trail include an old railroad tunnel, bridges using the remaining railroad trestles, waterfalls and rock outcroppings.
High Bridge Trail State Park is a multi-use trail ideally suited for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Its centerpiece is the majestic High Bridge, which is more than 2,400 feet long and 160 feet above the Appomattox River.
Autumn Morning Fog. Tom Lussier Photography. November 3, 2011. Submitted through the Virginia Flickr Group.
While you’re out and about enjoying all of the aforementioned and then some, take photos and connect with us in various ways. We want to see you having fun, doing what you love to do with those you love the most.
From the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia’s beautiful outdoors are a major draw each fall as 15 million acres of foliage burst into color and illuminate parks, forests and coastlines. Families, friends and couples who love the outdoors can enjoy Virginia’s mild fall weather and stunning scenery while spending quality time together in the great outdoors. Below are trip ideas to get you outside and into Virginia’s fall splendor.
Shenandoah National Park
Soar Above the Foliage on Virginia’s Eastern Shore - Glide over the Eastern Shore of Virginia like a bird while gazing down at some of the most beautiful scenery on the East Coast on a Discovery Hang Gliding Flight at the Eastern Shore Hang Gliding Center. No experience is necessary and all ages four and older are able to enjoy this pure form of flight from 2500 feet or a mile high.
Take a Cycling Scenic Road Trip – Road cycling enthusiasts looking for an epic fall ride can enjoy a scenic ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the country’s most legendary scenic roads. This 469-mile scenic route winds through 39 counties in Virginia. It is one of the best leaf peeping destinations on the East Coast and is popular among bicyclists and motorists during fall.
Go on a Guided Backpacking Trip in Shenandoah National Park – See places in Shenandoah National Park that few people know about; breathtaking waterfalls, high meadows, rugged mountaintops, even historic structures. This guided backpacking trip includes gear, meals and instruction by an experienced guide. Prices start at $225 per person. Folks who want to plan an independent backpacking trip can certainly do so without a guide in Shenandoah National Park, or in other outdoor wonderlands like Mount Rogers Recreational Area and along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.
Stay in a Luxury Tree House – Located near the Blue Ridge Parkway, thenew Golden Eagle Tree House at Primland Resort in Meadows of Dan is a highly luxurious way to experience fall foliage. Designed by La Cabene Perchee, one of the world’s top tree house architectural firms, the tree house sits in one of Primland’s oldest and most beautiful trees – without the intrusion of one single nail – and overlooks the Dan River Gorge. The red cedar tree house features a king bed, huge deck and all the luxurious amenities found at Primland’s main lodge.
Watch Roaring Falls Framed by Colorful Fall Foliage -Great Falls National Park, just outside of Washington D.C. is a collection of jagged rocks jutting up from the Potomac River in the narrow Mather Gorge creating an amazing series of falls. There are 15 miles of trails – five are multi-use and allow bikes and horses – to see the falls from various angles.
Go Tree Climbing – Adventurers can get an up close and personal leaf peeping experience as they climb among the foliage up to the tree tops. Blue Ridge Tree Climbing in Southwest Virginia and Riverside Outfitters in Richmond offer the chance for folks to climb to sky-high branches using safety techniques borrowed from professional arborists.
Ride Along Virginia’s Rail to Trails – Families can enjoy any number of Virginia’s rail trails, many of which are multi-use trails that trail runners, hikers and bikers of all skill levels can enjoy as they are well maintained, primarily flat trails converted from old railroad lines. In Martinsville, try the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail, a paved 4.5 mile section of the old Danville and Western Railroad. In Nelson County, the Virginia Blue Ridge Rail Trail runs along the Piney River and crosses into Amherst County – a beautiful wooded trail set against the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Visit Virginia’s State Parks – Virginia State Parks are consistently rated the best in the nation and have been the backdrop for perfect family vacations for more than 75 years. Families will find that Virginia’s 35 state parks are as diverse as the state itself, with parks found along the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, on historic sites, in the Blue Ridge Mountains or just outside of major cities, making fall outdoor fun accessible in every region of the state.
Float through Foliage on Virginia’s Scenic Water Trails - Virginia’s vast system of scenic rivers, salty tidal bays and quiet inlets and streams provide paddlesport enthusiasts endless opportunities to experience fall from the water.
Look for Wildlife - Virginia is full of places for wildlife viewing, especially along the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, which consists of 65 trail loops throughout Virginia. The first such trail in America, this trail reaches every part of the state and brings visitors up close and personal with Virginia’s abundant wildlife treasures. Fall is particularly great for birding as one of the most important migration stop-overs on the East Coast happens. Millions of songbirds and butterflies and thousands of raptors will converge on Virginia’s Eastern Shore during their long journey south in October.
In fall Virginia’s farms become family playgrounds full of “U Pick” fun – apple orchards, pumpkin patches and corn mazes where loved ones can enjoy time together out in the fresh air in the beautiful Virginia countryside.
September 22 – In Bristow, your family will enjoy learning about butter making, 19th century log home building, candle dipping, ice cream making and so much more at the Prince William Farm Tour. 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Culpeper Farm Tour
September 29 and 30 – Pair your farm visits with some Civil War history during the 4th Annual Rappahannock County Farm Tour. Nearly 20 participants representing farms, wineries, orchards and farm-to-table initiatives will make it two fun-filled days for all ages. A living history encampment and artillery demonstrations will offer insight about the Civil War as it affected Rappahannock County and Virginia. 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. $5 per person 16 and older. Purchase Tickets
October 6 and 7 – The Annual Culpeper Harvest Days Farm Tour offers families the chance to meet llamas, cattle, buffalo and horses. Check out everything from mushrooms to moonshine and wine from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day at nearly 20 locations. Download the Farm Tour Passport
Polyface Farms in Swoope has an open-gate policy, inviting anyone to tour on their own at any time (except Sundays, please). If you’d rather hear the scoop from the farmer’s mouth instead of wandering about, register now (limited to first 100 participants) for the Lunatic Tours. $15 per person ages 13 and up (13 is the minimum rider age). Only available September 29 from 1 to 3 p.m. and October 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. The Lunatic Tours are unscripted visits to the pastured animals via hay wagon. The farmer says it’s “more fun than a theme park roller coaster ride,” and we’d be willing to bet the farm that he’s right. Book Now
In Danville you’ll find Owen Farm. Stop in on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. or Sundays between 2 and 6 p.m. to visit with the animals, churn some butter or even pick your own fresh produce. Now that fall is near, the corn maze is about to open and the pumpkin patch is nearly ready for the hunt. Beginning September 15 the farm extends their hours to include Fridays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $8/child and $6/adult with a child’s ticket. Combo tickets are available to include hayrides, pony rides and more.
Sometimes the journey is better than the destination, but in this case, the destination is totally worth the effort of the journey.
This past spring we asked our Facebook and Twitter followers for their favorite hikes. Last fall we told you where to hike in for beautiful waterfalls amid the foliage. This fall, we marry the two lists and show you where to go for great hikes with views AND waterfalls.
Crabtree Falls is actually a 1,200′ cascade – the highest vertical-drop cascade east of the Mississippi River. The lower falls is accessible to elderly and differently abled sightseers, making it an enjoyable outdoor experience for all. Over the course of the three-mile trail past the lower falls is a series of five major cascades and smaller ones. Access the trail from a fee-based lot at 11581 Crabtree Falls Highway, Montebello, VA 24464. And the view? Get a good glimpse from the top of the trail, or you can enjoy it from Crabtree Falls Highway up to/down from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Skyline Drive at milepost 42.6: The upper falls are a 4.6-mile out-and-back hike. If you head down the steep grade to the lower falls, add another 2.7 miles to your round trip.
Route 600 offers an access point at Boundary Trailhead. One mile in is the lower falls or hike the steep grade to the upper falls. Download the Trail Map
The views from Skyline Drive are some of the best – if not the best – in Virginia. 75 overlooks dot the 105-mile scenic route and you’ll definitely want to stop at more of them than not to snap a memory.
In Douthat State Park is Blue Suck Falls Trail, a three-mile moderate to difficult hike that includes a nice waterfall. One hiker proclaims, “Your long climb up the Blue Suck Falls is rewarded by one glorious vista after another,” so don’t just take it from us. Download the Trail Map
At milepost 50.7 on Skyline Drive is a trail leading to Dark Hollow Falls – a cascade of 70′ over greenstone. The hike out-and-back is a 1.5-mile easy trek. And again, the views from Skyline speak for themselves. Download the Trail Map
Fifteen miles of trails offer different vantage points of the renowned “great falls” of Great Falls National Park. The falls are created by jagged rocks in the Potomac River at the narrow Mather Gorge. Take your bike, if you’d rather, and bring $3 to get into the park.