Pump up the tires and secure your helmet for great biking around Virginia. Whether you’re into the challenges of mountainous terrain or are more of a bike path easy rider, these resources will help you roll out for the day.
Looking to get out on the bike this weekend? Check out the Bike Virginia Tour traveling from Chesterfield to Williamsburg June 20-25. The Tour takes a different route each year, offering you a laid back way to experience the beauty of the Commonwealth. Registration required.
NEW RIVER JUNCTION – CANOEING | Blacksburg
Experience New River Junction, as the New River will draw you, gently and peacefully, as you float over small riffles in your tube. About a mile downstream, the rapids are splashing. Ride the rapids a few times then visit Big Falls Park, where the park grills will be hot and ready for cooking. The free shuttle bus will be available when you decide to go back for another trip down the river. A lazy, inner tube drift down a mile of pristine river cupped in a tree-lined mountain valley provides the perfect escape from a hot summer day.
Canoeing down the New River with Tangent Outfitters
TANGENT OUTFITTERS – GUIDED CANOEING | Radford
Experience the second oldest river in the WORLD, the New River, as you paddle alongside the natural scenery. Varying from flat, slow-moving water to Class III rapids, the historical river provides an enjoyable adventure for canoers of all skill levels. Trips with Tangent Outfitters range from 5-10 miles, so pack a lunch to take a break along any of the river’s beaches!
NEW RIVER’S EDGE – TUBING | Giles
Bring your family and relax while tubing the gentle waters and Class I rapids of the New River. The 20-minute adventure is something you’ll love to take again and again. Tubing from the Pembroke Boat Landing through the shoals and back to New River’s Edge is fun for all ages! New River’s Edge provides a great, refreshing way to cool off this summer.
CLINCH RIVER ADVENTURES – TUBING/CANOEING | St. Paul
Visit Mother Nature’s waterpark at Clinch River Adventures and spend the day floating down the most bio-diverse river in the country! Rent or bring your own canoe and experience one of the many trips available for the whole family; the facility offers trips from 45 minutes to 7 hours. Looking for a more relaxing day on the water? Spend some time tubing for a peaceful float down the river.
JAMES RIVER REELING & RAFTING – CANOEING | Scottsville James River Reeling & Rafting offers great flexibility for those seeking excitement or relaxation. Choose from Class I, II or III rapids, spanning more than 50 miles! Each canoeing trip offers Smallmouth Bass fishing, so be sure to pack the fishing pole and cooler as you spend the day on the James!
TWIN RIVER OUTFITTERS – CANOEING | Buchanan Twin River Outfitters runs trips on the Upper James, Cowpasture, Jackson and Maury Rivers. The outfitter offers its customers fun and safe river trips that range from lazy river to whitewater paddling experiences with true mountain views. Known as the oldest and most experienced outfitter operating on the Upper James, Twin River has been safely running paddle trips since 1978. Why spend just a day on the water when you can spend a week? A variety of single day and multi-day river-based camping trips are available, where visitors can experience the historic Natural Bridge and more.
RIVERSIDE OUTFITTERS – GUIDED RAFTING/CANOEING | Richmond Riverside Outfitters offers three distinct rafting experiences: the falls of the James, the Upper River white water and the Lower River white water trips. Take an adventure trip down the Falls of the James in Richmond’s James River Park System—the only Class II-IV white water rapids running through a major U.S. city. For a more relaxing trip, the outfitter offers guided rafting and canoeing trips, where guests can spot bald eagles, great blue herons, egrets, osprey and other wildlife.
DOWNRIVER CANOE CO. – CANOEING | Bentonville Downriver Canoe Co. offers great canoe and tube floats on the legendary Shenandoah River. The South Fork of the Shenandoah River has long been recognized as one of the premier canoeing rivers in the East. A steady current of normally crystal clear water flows over a solid rock bottom creating many interesting riffles and pools, and even some beginning white water making it an ideal river for novice and experienced paddlers alike. The river is legendary for spectacular mountain scenery and abundant wildlife.
HARPERS FERRY ADVENTURE CENTER – TUBING/CANOEING | Purcellville
Remember the lazy river ride at the water park? The one where you could float away the afternoon in the summer sun? Harpers Ferry Adventure Center is the original Harpers Ferry tubing company and the adventure company who has water tubing down to a science. The Adventure Center has white water or flat water options for both tubing and canoeing. You can bring a cooler or rent one and spend the whole day on the river tubing Harpers Ferry. Tubing is the Center’s most popular river activity and is the perfect way to soak up the sun, laugh with family and friends, and cool off on a hot summer day.
HOWARDSVILLE CANOE LIVERY – CANOEING | Scottsville
Canoe the James River in Virginia or water levels permitting, the Rockfish River. Bring your fishing pole and explore the small mouth bass waters in a canoe from the Howardsville Canoe Livery. The Livery is ready with canoes for you and your family!
OUTDOOR ADVENTURE EXPERIENCES – TUBING | Dayton
Pack your lunch, drinks and sunscreen, and enjoy a day with Outdoor Adventure Experiences tubing down the Shenandoah River. Guests will begin the journey on their own tube, while guides bring a giant tube for all to play on as they float down the deeper, slower sections of the river.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT ISLAND – CANOEING | Arlington
Canoe the Potomac around Theodore Roosevelt Island and take in the natural beauty of this 88-acre bird sanctuary. This easy, flat paddle round the island is the best way to see how the Potomac River shapes its physical form and influences its wildlife. The island is dedicated to our nation’s 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt.
POHICK BAY REGIONAL PARK – GUIDED CANOEING | Lorton Imagine skimming along the smooth waters of an uncommonly beautiful wetland. A kingfisher chatters as it whizzes by you, a Bald Eagle turns a broad circle overhead and a deer gazes at you from the shore. A breeze covers the water with silky ripples. Where are you? On a guided canoe trip on the marshes of Pohick Bay Regional Park. Head out on your adventure and check out the wildlife, also including osprey and great blue herons.
FRONT ROYAL OUTDOORS/SHENANDOAH RIVER TRIPS – CANOEING/TUBING | Front Royal Come experience the “Legend”. Front Royal Outdoors offers self-guided canoe, kayak, raft, and tube trips on the South Fork of the legendary Shenandoah River. The trips are perfect for the individual, family, or group. River trips flow north between the Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington National Forest and are designed for your enjoyment on novice to intermediate class waters. Whether you want to lazily float down the river in a tube or just paddle away for an hour or a couple of days, Front Royal Outdoors can provide the expertise and knowledge to help you plan your Shenandoah getaway.
MATTAPONI CANOE & KAYAK – GUIDED CANOEING | Aylett Mattaponi Canoe & Kayak provides guided paddling excursions on both tidal and non-tidal reaches of the Mattaponi, Pamunkey and Chickahominy Rivers, and Dragon Swamp. The trips are geared to take advantage of the rich natural history of the region, giving the participant much more than just another float down the river. Guides will lead guests on an adventurous journey through very remote, wilderness-like passages of the upper Mattaponi River. Or if you’re looking for something a little more leisurely, try a sunset paddle at the Pamunkey Indian Reservation, where wild rice marshes, waterfowl and Native American and Colonial history flourish.
There certainly isn’t a shortage of hiking trails throughout the state; and for those who are looking for a trail that offers ever-changing scenery and terrain, there’s plenty of circuit hikes available for all hikers. Circuit hikes vary in many degrees of difficulty, making for unique experiences around the loops. Here’s some of the trails around the state, with many more to discover along the way.
Tell us about your favorite circuit trail!
OLD RAG MOUNTAIN Old Rag Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in the Shenandoah National Park—it is also the most challenging and dangerous. Recommended for experienced hikers only, a day on the Old Rag is one of Shenandoah’s premier experiences. The circuit is approximately nine miles, with significant elevation changes and rock scrambles. Hikers should allot about 7-8 hours to complete the loop.
MASON NECK WILDLIFE REFUGE LOOP & BEACH WALK
This family and pet-friendly refuge offers an easy 2.3-mile trail, covering the length and flatness of the shore along Belmont Bay. Spotting bald eagles and other bird species, as well as other wildlife make for a great hike! Pack a lunch and take a break at one of the trail’s shelters or snack on the beach! Plan for 1-3 hours for the hike along the Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge and experience the serene undisturbed land of the refuge.
Stratford Hall’s nature trails are as varied as they are scenic, providing leisurely strolls for the amateur hiker and challenging treks for veterans. Hikers have six trails to choose from, including the Spring House Trail loop. The short and easy hike, approximately a quarter-mile, passes through a natural spring and is home to many species of wildlife—in particular the American Bald Eagle. A bald eagle can be spotted regularly and in rare instances, hikers may see a pileated woodpecker. The pileated woodpecker is the only woodpecker that can carve out a nest cavity in a living tree.
SKY MEADOWS STATE PARK Sky Meadows State Park offers more than 17 miles of hiking trails that are accessible for the novice to expert hiker. The park’s long circuit trail is a moderate hike, about 8.5 miles long. Much of the loop meanders across or skirts the edges of rolling meadows and offers up to four vistas along the way. This circuit is a great hike for the entire family.
Hiking the Passamaquaddy Trail on Little Stony Man Mountain
STONY MAN TRAIL
The Stony Man Mountain Trail is one of the most scenic circuits in Shenandoah National Park. Although Stony Man is the second highest peak in the park, the grades are not difficult. The trail offers outstanding panoramas of neighboring mountains and totals 3.4 miles in length.
FIRST LANDING STATE PARK
Take a step back in time at First Landing State Park. More than 19 miles of trails wind through the park, where English settlers established the first elective government in 1607. The South Loop trail allows hikers to explore the rich history of the area, including lagoons, large cypress trees and rare plants.
LAURAL RUN TRAIL
In the heart of Goshen Pass, the Laurel Run Trail makes for a good hike along a beautiful small native trout stream. The trail boasts waterfalls, seasonal rhododendron and mountain laurel displays. The beautiful scenery makes this 3-mile round trip hike most enjoyable. The moderate skill-level trail is great for the beginner hiker who is looking to get a more challenging experience out of their journey.
Located within the Shenandoah National Park, Lewis Falls Trail is a 3.3-mile circuit hike from the Big Meadows amphitheater to the observation point, or 2 miles round trip from Skyline Drive. It boasts an 81′ waterfall, streams and more. The hike is moderate, with steep rocky areas and different variations of terrain throughout.
LOCHER TRACT Locher Tract is an easy, 1-mile loop along the James River, which used to be the site of an old family farm. The U.S. Forest Service now maintains the area for wildlife watching. While you’re trekking the loop, look for beaver, deer, herons, quail, turkey and more. The trail loops past an active beaver swamp, piney woods and grassy openings.
Family hikes along South River Falls trail
SOUTH RIVER FALLS
Hiking South River Falls and Pocosin Mission is a long, historic trek, measuring about 8.5 miles. Venture to the third-highest waterfall in Shenandoah National Park, with a drop of 83 feet. The total climb is about 1,830 feet and hikers should allow 7.5 hours to complete the loop. The hike also includes views such as settler ruins, a cemetery and more.
HUMPBACK ROCKS Humpback Rocks, located within the Blue Ridge Parkway, features three trails (along with the Appalachian Trail) that make great circuit hikes. The complete circuit includes both blue-blazed spur trails and the rerouted Appalachian Trail, which totals just under 6 miles. Enjoy some truly amazing panoramic views of the valley on top of the slanted rock.
LIMBERLOST TRAIL Limberlost Trail, also located within Shenandoah National Park, is often enjoyed by people with mobility challenges. The trail was originally constructed to meet ADA accessibility standards; however, the requirements have recently been revised. Shenandoah National Park has plans to upgrade Limberlost to meet the new standards. This circuit hike of 1.3 miles is for people of all ages and has a 5-foot-wide crushed greenstone walkway on a gentle grade with frequent benches, a boardwalk, and a bridge. The trail passes through forest and a stand of mountain laurel – stunningly beautiful when it blooms in June.
ROCK CASTLE GORGE NATIONAL RECREATION TRAIL
This trail starts easy at the entrance to the Rocky Knob campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then descends over three miles into the backcountry camping area in the bottom of the gorge. The strenuous and rugged nature of the trail reveal part of the reason this pathway was given National Recreational Trail status. In the springtime to early summer, nearly 200 varieties of wildflowers are visible along the trail area. The rest of the trail is a 7.3-mile ascent back out of the gorge on the return trail. You’ll see tunnels of rhododendron and other thick mountain foliage, a splashing stream, and high open meadows. The entire loop is 10.8 miles and the elevations range from 1,700 to 3,572 ft. A few small historic structures are visible along the trail, including a Civilian Conservation Corps camp.
GRAYSON HIGHLANDS STATE PARK Grayson Highlands offers five loop trails throughout the park, ranging from 0.3-1.8 miles in distance. These trails lead to panoramic vistas, scenic waterfalls and a 200-year-old pioneer cabin. The park also offers access to the Appalachian Trail and the surrounding Jefferson National Forest.
This 5.5-mile moderate loop into George Washington National Forest is not maintained and not suitable for dogs or young children. Strickler Knob does, however, reward with challenging rock scrambling and stunning 360-degree views of New Market Gap and the Luray Valley.
LAKE KEOKEE LOOP
The Lake Keokee Loop Trail circles Lake Keokee, which is a popular fishing lake near Big Stone Gap. The 3.7-mile, moderate loop features both land and water wildlife.
ROARING RUN LOOP TRAIL
Two trails lead to the falls creating a 1.5 mile loop trail. Most visitors use the Streamside Trail on their way up to the falls and return on the Woodland Trail. On the Streamside Trail, hikers are treated to rustic stone bridges, sheer rock faces and the sound of tumbling water as they walk alongside Roaring Run Creek up to the falls. The trail junctures with the Woodland Trail just shy of Roaring Run Falls. A short, 0.10-mile spur trail leads to the falls. The woodland Trail travels through the forest, passing a scenic overlook and the iron furnace before returning to the picnic area. Both trails are easy with relatively little elevation gain.
Virginia’s beaches offer a wide variety of activities and adventures to experience this summer. Whether it’s a relaxing getaway or a journey for the adrenaline junkie, now is the perfect time to plan a trip.
Virginia Beach, offers the best of both worlds for its visitors. Head 15 miles south of the resort area of town and you’ll find Sandbridge Beach. Sandbridge is a peaceful, secluded area, making it a wonderful spot for travelers who are looking for some R&R without the hustle and bustle of Virginia Beach’s resort areas.
Family time spent at the beach
Sandbridge is a fantastic area of Virginia Beach, but let’s not knock the resort area! Toss around a beach ball, kick around the soccer ball. Take in the sounds of laughter and portable radios. It’s a great spot to bring the kids and experience the ultimate family vacation.
Looking for a day of excitement? Swing by Rudee Inlet and take a ride out to sea on a banana boat. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. A banana-shaped boat. Rudee offers other traditional water rentals, but why pass up a piece of fruit to wander around?
Paddle boarding is one of the best cardio workouts in the water, all while offering an awesome, yet spiritual experience. Rudee’s offers everything from lessons to floating yoga, catering to all skill levels. Beginners can journey to the calm inland water for instruction, while those more experience can head out to sea to enjoy the ocean wildlife.
While you’re in the area, venture over to False Cape State Park and experience the beach in its most primitive state. The park boasts a 7.5-mile trail, with views of beaches, dunes, maritime forests of oak and pine, wooded swamps, marshes, and the bay—all in one journey. Pitch a tent or rent a cabin and take in the tranquility of nature, gazing under the stars.
Head east to Portsmouth and find the Chesapeake Diving Center. Go below the surface for some scuba diving expeditions. The Diving Center offers 10 different diving options, from boat and night diving, to digital underwater photography, and wreck dives. The Center offers equipment rentals and all the necessary training to head out on an exhilarating adventure.
Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
The Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail is a driving trail with loops off the main trail, linking some of Virginia’s best wildlife-watching areas with walking and biking trails. One of those is the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. A premier birding and wildlife site, the 1200-acre refuge provides viewing access to significant stretches of salt marsh, grasslands, loblolly pine forests, bayberry thickets, barrier islands, and freshwater and brackish ponds. The refuge has a bird list that comes close to 300 species.
The Eastern Shore is full of unique experiences, from spots of pure relaxation, to extreme water sports. Kiteboarding is one of the fastest growing water sports in the country and Cape Charles’ SouthEast Kiteboarding School (S.E.E.) is the only full-service kiteboarding center in Virginia. The Cape Charles beachfront is an ideal learning environment, with flat, shallow water and consistent side shore breezes. For more experienced riders, S.E.E. offers kiteboarding expeditions through the shallow bays and barrier island breaks of the seaside of the Eastern Shore. Discover the spot that the Kiteboarder magazine calls “the best kept secret on the East Coast!”
Live the Dream! If you are looking for one of the most exciting things to do, want to fly like a bird, and see some of the most beautiful scenery on the east coast, then take a Discovery Hang Gliding Flight at the Eastern Shore Hang Gliding Center. No experience is necessary and all ages 4+ are able to enjoy this pure form of flight. The Center offers Discovery Flights up to a mile high. You and your USHGA certified instructor will soar over the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where you will learn the basics of controlling a hang glider. Your “dream” of flying will come true!
With so many unique experiences available, it’s easy to plan a perfect seaside escape this summer.
Discover nature as you’ve never seen it before. Kayaking is one of the best ways to explore unique wildlife and much more—and we have some of the best adventures in the country.
SouthEast Expeditions at Onancock Wharf
For instance, SouthEast Expeditions (SEE) in Cape Charles has been featured in Chesapeake Life magazine, Washington Post and the Denver Post, and everywhere in between. SEE offers a unique kayak winery tour, where it teams up with Chatham Vineyards and each pair of participants receive a bottle of their choosing. SEE also offers tours for first-timers, as they are guided through shallow, sheltered waters. They are perfect for family outings and are a wonderful introduction to both the sport of sea kayaking and the beautiful coastal ecosystems of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Trips are also available for the intermediate and well-seasoned kayaker.
For those looking to get a rise out of their trip to Cape Charles, spend a weekend in a century-old working waterman’s cabin, courtesy of SEE. Recently featured in Garden and Gun magazine, take your winery trip to the cabin, once dotted the Eastern Shore’s marshlands, which were outposts for oystermen guarding their grounds. Upon arrival, dive into a feast of local oysters and steamed clams; and of course, a glass of Chatham’s Chardonnay to pair.
Did you know the second oldest river in the world lies right in our back yard? Contrary to its name, the New River flows through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, beginning in West Virginia, drifting to its end in northern North Carolina.
New River Camping & Kayaking
New River Campground Canoeing and Kayaking, located in Independence, gives visitors a perfect opportunity to explore diverse wildlife. Whether you are interested in a leisurely day of paddling, riding some rapids or an overnight trip on the river, the company can create custom outings for a trip like no other.
Take an eco-tour at Bay Country Kayaking in Williamsburg, where the family owned and operated company’s mission is to educate kayakers on Virginia’s ecological, cultural and historical significance; all while enjoying tours on the James, York or Piankatank Rivers, or Mobjak Bay and the Eastern Shore. Bases are positioned on both the mainland and Eastern Shore.
Head to Kayak Nature Tours in Virginia Beach and experience a trip out to sea. Featured in Southern Living magazine, the company boasts tours for newcomers, all the way to expert level, including a dolphin adventure tour.
Also near the Atlantic, Adventure Kayak Tours feature trips off Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore. Personalized trips are available, meeting the unique needs of its clients. Exclusive tours include fishing and geocaching, as well as a paddle under the stars and full moon. For those who are looking for a little something extra, a kayak camping adventure is perfect. Take a two-day, one-night guided tour of the Great Dismal Swamp and Lake Drummond. Adventure Kayak Tours has won the Virginia Green Travel Leader award and also offers guided eco-tours for PITO—Paddle In Trash Out—an excellent opportunity for those who a looking to help keep coastal Virginia clean.
Located on the Potomac Shore, Algonkian Regional Park is an ideal spot for a kayak trip. Flow through the upper reaches of the scenic Potomac River and paddle among the islands that are stretched out on this beautiful section of the river. Learn about the natural world around you and the general ecology of the area.
The mighty James River begins its majestic journey in Botetourt County, winding through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains on its way to the Chesapeake Bay. The unspoiled beauty of the river is more accessible than ever through the Upper James River Water Trail. Paddlers, anglers and families can get back to nature and enjoy the sights and sounds of 45 miles of the Upper James, including 14 pristine miles designated as a Virginia Scenic River. See the mountains like you’ve never seen them before on the Upper James River Water Trail. The Upper James River Water Trail was created by Botetourt County to encourage residents and visitors to experience the beauty and history of one of the county’s greatest natural treasures. Class I and II rapids are part of the journey, as the Jackson and Cowpasture Rivers converge to form the James.
Visit Virginia’s largest lake! John H. Kerr Reservoir/Buggs Island Lake is more than 50,000 acres of fresh water with more than 800 miles of beautiful shoreline. Surround yourself with natural beauty by heading out on the kayak and see where it takes you. Quiet coves are waiting to be explored.
At Great Falls National Park, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. The Patowmack Canal offers a glimpse into the early history of this country. Kayaking in this whitewater area is meant to be used by very skilled kayakers.
Also nestled along the shores of the Potomac River, Leesylvania State Park offers many water-related activities, more specifically, kayaking. Listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, take in the history of the grounds, while enjoying the tidal, freshwater river.
Massanutten Adventures Canoe and Kayak provides kayaking services to the Shenandoah Valley and Harrisonburg areas. Explore the Shenandoah River and take in the natural wildlife. The facility is a part of the popular Massanutten Resort, with plenty of camping and lodging available to spend a weekend on the water.
White water kayaking at Harpers Ferry Adventure Center is the ideal place for guests in good physical condition, looking for a more challenging adventure. You will explore Class I-III (sometimes I-II+) rapids on this seven-mile stretch of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers near Harpers Ferry, W,Va., where two rivers (the Shenandoah and Potomac) and three states (Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia) come together for a thrilling Shenandoah and Potomac kayak experience. For a more relaxing experience, try out the Flat Water tour. Kayakers will enjoy the scenic stretches of the Potomac and paddling at their own pace.
Ride through the most bio-diverse river in America with Clinch River Adventures. Clinch River Adventures offers a wide variety of kayaking excursions for the entire family and adventurists of all skill levels. Choose between sit-in, sit-on and tandem kayaks and enjoy the ride on trips that can last from 45 minutes to seven hours!
The newly developed Southern Virginia Wild Blueway in Halifax and Mecklenburg Counties offer kayaking adventures on four different rivers making many unique trips in the water. The Blueway is surrounded by unspoiled terrain and undeveloped public shoreline. Catch some views of bald eagles and osprey patrolling the area and take in the sights. The Blueway is definitely an adventure to put on the bucket list.
Venture out along the Chesapeake Bay to Mobjack Kayaking. Paddle over to the historic New Point Lighthouse and explore New Point Beach along the way. The lighthouse, originally surrounded by a beach of 100 acres, is now surrounded by water, with frequent dolphin sightings around the area. Mobjack Kayaking offers nine different kayak trips, including horse shoe crab spotting and early morning bird watching.