19 Places to Enjoy Fall Foliage in Virginia

by Casey Higgins | Posted on September 27th, 2013

Comments: 8 Comments

Last Updated October 2, 2015.

If you’ve been following along for any amount of time, you might have caught on that we ask “the locals” for recommendations every now and again. This group has been helpful in identifying the best BBQ joints, the best breakfasts, and more. Today, we present to you their suggestions for the best places to enjoy the fall foliage in their area.


Humpback Rocks – Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 6

Humpback Rocks

Humpback Rocks. Photo by Brent McGuirt.

– “360 degree views of the Shenandoah Valley. Migrating birds can often be seen here in the fall, especially hawks.”
– “Take the trail up from the Humpback Gap parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the rocky ledges above for amazing 360 degree views on top of the slanted rock. Just north at Milepost 5.8 is the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center with a mountain farm exhibit.”

ALSO SEE: Virginia’s Most Beloved Drives for Fall Foliage



Crabtree Falls – 11581 Crabtree Falls Highway, Montebello

Crabtree Falls

Crabtree Falls

– “Enjoy a 2 1/2 mile hike up along the falls, with 4 overlooks to the cascading falls. You can hike further to the Appalachian Trail or head back down to relax for lunch at one of the picnic tables available next to the parking lot or view the Tye River from an arched wooden bridge that crosses over it.”
– “Just a few miles west of Crabtree Falls on Rt. 56 West is the Montebello State Fish Hatchery, the Montebello Country Store and Montebello Camping & Fishing Resort, and then just a few miles further is the Blue Ridge Parkway for panoramic fall foliage views!”

ALSO SEE: Five Great Treks for Foliage and Waterfalls



Balcony Falls Overlook – Route 501, Glasgow, on the Rockbridge/Amherst County Line

The gorge at Balcony Falls. Photo courtesy Confluence Outfitters.

The gorge at Balcony Falls. Photo courtesy Confluence Outfitters.

– “Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, FISHING!! Confluence Outfitters offers guided fishing through the gorge here and it is the most beautiful place to see the leaves changing and catch fish at the same time!”
– “Devil’s Marbleyard is close by.” (Devil’s Marbleyard is a 3-mile round trip hike that highlights boulders the size of cars.)


North Mountain Trail – Fire Road 447 off I-64, exit 43 in Rockbridge County. Drive in 6.7 miles to the parking lot at Route 770.

– “The trail features stream habitats, interesting rock formations, varied forest types, opportunities for wildlife viewing and panoramic views as it rises in elevation from 1,700 feet to 3,200 feet. At mile 3, narrow rock stairs descend between huge boulders. Once on the crest of the mountain, there are excellent views to the east of Lake Robertson and the Peaks of Otter.”


Back of the Dragon – Route 16 between Tazewell and Marion

Hungry Mother State Park

Hungry Mother State Park

– “The 32 mile stretch of highway has several pull-over areas.”
– “The vistas are incredibly beautiful in the Fall. The colors are amazing. Wildlife is abundant.”
– “Watch for lots of sports cars and motorcycles. Dubbed ‘Back of the Dragon,’ the winding curves extend over three mountains and 260 curves.”
– “On the north side of the Back of the Dragon (Route 16), the historic town of Tazewell is located. Travelers can enjoy the Historic Crab Orchard Museum and dine at places such as Your Grate Escape. On the south side of the Back of the Dragon is Hungry Mother State Park and the historic town of Marion, Virginia.”


Burkes Garden – Tazewell

Aerial view of Burkes Garden, location of The Varmint.

Aerial view of Burkes Garden.

– “Driving around the 12 mile “bowl,” there are several places to pull off. Public restrooms are located at the Community Center.”
– “Stop by the Lost World Ranch for a camel ride or sit on the Burke’s Garden General Store‘s front porch and enjoy a homemade piece of pie, or even have a sandwich with freshly baked bread. Go to the Appalachian Trail and take a hike.”


The Channels Natural Area Preserve – Route 80 on the Russell/Washington County Line

The Channels Natural Area Preserve

The Channels Natural Area Preserve

– “It is a fantastic hike with views for miles.”
– “The Channels itself is a sandstone rock formation.”
– “Near The Channels is Laurel Bed Lake, which sits atop the Clinch Mountain Range in the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Area. On the drive up to Laurel Bed there are numerous waterfalls along Big Tumbling Creek as well as foliage and Mountain Laurel.”


Patrick Henry’s Red Hill – 1250 Red Hill Road, Brookneal

Patrick Henry's Red Hill

Patrick Henry’s Red Hill

– “As you are driving down Red Hill Road, entering the National Memorial to Patrick Henry you will be immersed in the colors of Autumn. The 525 acres consists of thousands of trees and scenic views of the Staunton River Valley. We have the nation’s largest Osage Orange tree on the property that towers over the reconstructed home of Patrick Henry. Guests have the option to walk down two trails that showcases an abundance of trees in their Autumn splendor. The views are absolutely breathtaking at Patrick Henry’s Red Hill in the Fall.”
– “There is a great winery just up the road, Sans Soucy Vineyard that has a beautiful tasting room and charming vistas. A unique and delicious option for lunch, the Drug Store Grill, is in the town of Brookneal about 5 miles away.”


Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens – 780 University Blvd. Harrisonburg

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

– “The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens is a treasure in the fall. You can bring food and have a picnic, walk the trails, bird watch, spot stunning florals and fauna, enjoy the peaceful new fountain feature, and more.”
– “The entire space is worth a view! It encompasses 125 acres of urban botanical preserve. It provides an ideal combination of naturalized botanical gardens and forest.”


Bark Camp Lake – Jefferson National Forest at High Knob, Scott County

Bark Camp Lake

Bark Camp Lake

– “Yes, there are trails to walk plus you can take non-motorized boats (canoes, kayaks) picnic area plus a small amphitheatre.”
– Nearby are “Devil’s Bathtub, Falls of Little Stony and Hanging Rock Park.”


Hidden Valley Lake – Routes 19 and 690 on the Washington/Russell County Line

– “This area is great for hunting and fishing during the fall. There is a boat landing to launch your boat.”
– “Hiking is wonderful in this area but there are some steep grades so it is not for all ages. The elevation level is perfect to take in the mountain scenery and enjoy the breath taking views of SWVA.”
– “This wildlife area is an attraction all together with lots of different options for an entire day trip. It is truly located in the middle of nowhere but peace and quiet.”


Abingdon Vineyard and Winery – 20530 Alvarado Road, Abingdon

Virginia Creeper Trail

Virginia Creeper Trail

– “The Winery is a wonderful place for a tasting while enjoying the wonderful landscaping with trees and the creek.”
– “The Virginia Creeper Trail is located near the winery. You can ride your bikes over to the winery for a tasting and lunch.”
– “The Alvarado area is also great for kayaking and canoeing down the creek/river. There is also a small general store located next to the trail that serves ice cream and snacks. This area is a gem hidden along the VA Creeper Trail.”


Tobacco Heritage Trail – Town of Victoria

– “Take a picnic, hike, bike or ride a horse down the trail; geocache; visit the Brunswick Museum & Historic Society or downtown shops.”
– “The Colonial Center in South Hill. It is a beautifully renovated vaudeville theatre that has an art gallery and lots of great local talent starring in community theatre productions. Also, eat at the Horseshoe Restaurant in South Hill. It got its name from being an old horse powered mill. Yummy twists on traditional diner food. Close to the Colonial.”


Old House Vineyards – 14706 Lee Highway, Culpeper

– “Wine tastings, fishing, picnicking, relaxing on the fire pit patio, outside brick pizza oven. Vineyard is nestled and surrounded by mountain views on all sides. Beautiful FALL sunsets!”


Little Stony Man – Shenandoah National Park

Hiking the Passamaquaddy Trail on Little Stony Man Mountain

Hiking the Passamaquaddy Trail on Little Stony Man Mountain

– “We like to get up early on a crisp fall morning and head out to Little Stony Man. The views are incredible.”


Colonial Parkway – Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown

Colonial Parkway

Colonial Parkway

– “That drive along the area known as Archer’s Hope is breathtaking. You can see all of the James River – a big view – and those big, mature trees are glorious in fall.”


Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake

– “There’s no BAD place to see foliage when you’re at Smith Mountain Lake. We really like the Bridgewater Marina area in Moneta. There’s good food, great views, and great people.”
– “Smith Mountain Lake State Park is fantastic all the time, but we love getting a cabin and sitting outside with a cool breeze. It’s less crowded in fall, too!”


Big Walker Lookout, Wytheville

Big Walker Lookout Tower

The view from Big Walker Lookout Tower

– “Something everybody must do once is climb the 100′ lookout tower at Big Walker. You’re already at 3,400′ in elevation, but when you add that extra height, man, it’s unmatched. Take your camera for sure.”
– “One of the best motorcycle rides I’ve ever been on included a stop at Big Walker Lookout General Store. They have live music sometimes.”


White Rocks Overlook, Bull Run Mountain

– “We take the kids to Bull Run Mountain and make our way to White Rocks Overlook. It’s not too hard of a hike (if you take the Chestnut Ridge Trail) and the view is stunning.”



Looking for a weekend or longer getaway? See our series of eight posts detailing just that:

Part 8 – Part 7 – Part 6 – Part 5 – Part 4 – Part 3 – Part 2 – Part 1


Leave a Reply


Susan says:

Alleghany County & Bath County

Thomas lawson says:

You left out the Breaks interstate park

Rosalie Fleming says:

Don’t forget the Breaks Interstate Park!

Ron Kime says:

I would LOVE for someone to talk about the Big Walker Mountain National Forest Scenic Byway that is on US-52 and Historic US-21 Between Bland and Wytheville. This is an easy off and back on scenic route that has some of the most gorgeous fall color of anywhere in Virginia. Only 16 miles and you are back on the interstate 77 if in a hurry and worth the little detour. The reason I know? I operate the overlook on top of the mountain and enjoy the beauty everyday. Virginia truly is for LOVERS of the beauty of the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains.

Alice says:

Mabry Mill and Chateau Morrisette…

Rosemary S. says:

I live within a couple hours of Washington and Tazewell Counties. I believe the scenery is some of the most beautiful in VA. Burke’s Gardens is a must visit. Tazewell has some beautiful old houses and buildings as well as the town of Abingdon. Hungry Mother Park is a beautiful place to visit. Saltville is an old town with a great little museum. Southeast Virginia is spectacular in any season. Almost forgot to mention Lebanon! And the people in these towns and rural areas are so nice! Visit!!

Kim77 says:

I cannot believe that you left out Reddish Knob and Colonial Parkway. People in Harrisonburg and Southeastern VA go out of their way to see the foliage in those two places.

K Deane says:

Every Autumn we drive to Blue Ridge Parkway, even though we have spectacular views living in the foothills. It is truly gorgeous!