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    Today's the day of the annual Pony Swim made famous by Marguerite Henry's "Misty of Chincoteague." Every year thousands of spectators gather from around the world to watch the #saltwatercowboys heard the wild ponies from #Assateague to #Chincoteague Island. This event is totally #bucketlist worthy! Photo props go to @cohennic. Tag your #VA photos with #LoveVA for a chance to be featured here! #repost #virginia #vatravel #wildponies #beach #photooftheday #cowboys #chincoteagueponyswim
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  • Archive for the ‘Outdoors’ Category

    Mountain Biking Trails For Everyone

    by Stefanie | Posted on May 19th, 2014

    Liberty Mountain Trail System

    Liberty Mountain Trail System

    Mountain biking season is here! It’s time to bring out the “Hurt Enforcer.” Or at least that’s what my bike’s nickname is. Check out some great biking trails this summer that welcome novice and experts alike. What’s your bike’s nickname? Find out here.

     

    SHENANDOAH MOUNTAIN TOURING – Harrisonburg, Va.

    Offering rentals and custom tours, Shenandoah Mountain Touring boasts beautiful scenery and trails for all skill levels. You might want to pack a swim suit under your biking gear; swimming holes are located throughout the trails and are perfect for taking a break from the heat. Special events are held throughout the year, including backcountry mountain bike races. Both mountain bike and road rides are available on the tours.

     

    THE HOMESTEAD – Hot Springs, Va.

    The Omni Homestead is located in one of the country’s most scenic settings. That’s good enough reason to take advantage of the 100 miles of hiking and biking trails all within steps of the resort. The resort is home to 100 miles of biking and hiking trails throughout the resort. That is certainly enough options to cover bikers of all skill levels. Covering 3.5 miles, the easiest trail takes a little over one hour to complete. The resort offers bike and helmet rentals.

     

    BRYCE MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK – Basye, Va.

    Perfect for a weekend getaway or vacation, Bryce Mountain Bike Park has six life-accessed trails, suitable for beginners and those who are learning terrain biking, and advanced difficult terrain. The Park offers a learning center for those who are wanting to learn proper biking techniques, as well as classes for the advanced biker who is looking to upgrade their style and performance. Rentals are available, including all the pads and equipment you will need for your day. TRAIL MAP

     

    Massanutten Resort

    Massanutten Resort

    MASSANUTTEN RESORT – McGaheysville, Va.

    It no longer has to be ski season to enjoy the terrain at Massanutten Resort. Riders of all ability levels may rent mountain bikes to explore the mountain. The resort has mountain biking for every level of rider. The blazed trails are recommended for intermediate to advanced riders, perfect for those who are looking for a challenging mountain biking experience. TRAIL MAP

     

    RADFORD MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK – Radford, Va.

    If you’re looking for a serene day on the trails with the family, Radford Mountain Bike Park offers 12 trails spanning 8-10 miles, with plenty of wildlife and scenic views to match. TRAIL MAP

     

    POCAHONTAS STATE PARK TRAILS – Chesterfield, Va.

    Featuring 52 miles for biking and hiking, Pocahontas State Park’s trails have several single-track mountain bike trails ranging from easy to expert levels. Included in the trail is the Spillway Trail for those with disabilities. TRAIL MAP

     

    DOUTHAT STATE PARK – Millboro, Va.

    At any one time of the year, Douthat State Park’s trails are open to more than 40 miles of wooded trails, perfect for bikers of all ages and skill levels. TRAIL MAP

     

    LAKE ANNA STATE PARK – Spotsylvania, Va.

    With 11 trails spanning 15 miles, Lake Anna State Park’s trails are the perfect option for those bikers who are planning to bring the kids along. All trails within the park are designated as “easy,” with the exception of the Big Woods, Pigeon Run and Gold Hill trails. TRAIL MAP

     

    Virginia Creeper Trail

    Virginia Creeper Trail

    VIRGINIA CREEPER TRAIL – Abingdon, Va.

    Ride along the 34-mile Creeper Trail, from Abingdon to just before the North Carolina border. During the ride, you will pass through Damascus, along the Whitetop Laurel River and up to its highest point, Whitetop Station, near the trail’s North Carolina border. The scenic and historic trail is an easy ride that offers food, lodging and shopping along the way. TRAIL MAP

     

    HUCKLEBERRY TRAIL – Blacksburg, Va.

    Huckleberry’s paved, 6-mile, relatively flat trail reaches points such as the Blacksburg Library, River Valley Mall and the Virginia Tech Campus. Perfect for an afternoon family ride or for those who use the trail for transportation. Huckleberry Trail is in the process of expansion, with a completion date of 2015. TRAIL MAP

     

    BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK – Breaks, Va.

    Breaks Interstate Park offers breathtaking scenery. The trail is a stack loop trail system offering up to nearly 12 miles of riding, from moderate to difficult. Depending on the route chosen, bikers may plan rides of varying length, with the possibilities of good climbs and long downhill runs. TRAIL MAP

     

    FALSE CAPE STATE PARK – Virginia Beach, Va.

    False Cape State Park offers five trails, including the Barbour Hill self-guided interpretive trail, total 15.3 miles. The park’s location on a barrier spit allows visitors to observe beaches, dunes, maritime forests of oak and pine, wooded swamps, marshes and the bay all in one visit. TRAIL MAP

     

    KIPTOPEKE STATE PARK – Cape Charles, Va.

    With more than four miles of trails, bike through upland hardwood forest along Baywoods Trail and look for tracks of foxes, deer and many birds. The upland Baywoods Trail and southern beach are connected by extensive boardwalks so that visitors may explore Kiptopeke’s dune formation. Bicycle trails are available along the park’s entrance road and the Raptor, Songbird, Chickadee and Mockingbird trails. TRAIL MAP

     

    OCCONEECHEE STATE PARK – Clarksville, Va.

    A one-mile self-guided interpretive trail takes visitors through a terraced garden and land where Occonneechee Plantation once was. The park has a 15-mile round trip multi-purpose linear trail for biking, which is relatively flat—perfect for the whole family to enjoy. TRAIL MAP

     

    LIBERTY MOUNTAIN TRAIL SYSTEM – Lynchburg, Va.

    The Liberty Mountain Trail System includes 65 miles of cross country and gravity-fed trails spanning nearly 5,000 acres through Liberty University’s Camp Hydaway. Conveniently located trail guides and directional signs make the trails easy to navigate for all visitors. TRAIL MAP

     

    Check out some additional biking in Virginia, including state park trails.

    For more resources on mountain biking, visit the International Mountain Bicycling Association website.

     



    Family, Outdoors, Travel Ideas, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

    Hikes to Virginia Waterfalls

    by Stefanie | Posted on May 15th, 2014

    June is Outdoor Month and what better way to kick it off than by showcasing all the beauty Virginia’s waterfall hiking trails can offer? Here are 10 trails to experience this summer… with PLENTY more to discover!

    CRABTREE FALLS TRAIL – George Washington National Forest The highest vertical-drop waterfall east of the Mississippi sits within the George Washington National Forest. Crabtree Falls is one of those attractions you have to see to believe. Spanning three miles, the trail is perfect for the novice and experienced hiker, and everything in between. Five cascading falls run through the trail, as well as several smaller ones that fall at a total distance of 1,200 feet. Moving along from the first fall on the trail, hikers can continue on to find the upper falls, which offer incredible views of the Crabtree Creek Falls, Tye River Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains. TRAIL MAP

    DARK HOLLOW FALLS – Shenandoah National Park Besides Crabtree Falls, these falls are probably going to be one of your most accessible. The Dark Hollow Trail is a little steep in places, but the 1.4-mile trek to Dark Hollow Falls is well worth the trip. The broad path is well maintained as it leads the visitor over the edge of the main ridge along the stream course. At the height of the spring runoff, these falls are an impressive site as water cascades 70 feet down the side of the mountain. TRAIL MAP

    Great Falls National Park

    Great Falls National Park

    GREAT FALLS NATIONAL PARK As part of the “Eight Natural Wonders of Virginia,” Great Falls is just 15 minutes outside Washington, D.C. Fifteen miles of trails run through the park and offer waterfalls that are not for the faint of heart. The waterfalls, reaching a total of 76 feet, are rated Class 5-6 Whitewater according to the International Scale of River Difficulty. Kayakers and boaters have not attempted to whitewater the falls since the 1960s. TRAIL MAP

    APPLE ORCHARD FALLS – Blue Ridge Parkway Are you looking for a hike with lots of streams? If so, this is a hike you should do, and is one of the most popular hikes in the Jefferson National Forest. You will either be right next to streams or within sight of a stream for about 90 percent of this hike. The highlight of the trail is the 200-foot Apple Orchard Falls with a very nice viewing area constructed by the Forest Service in 2000. TRAIL MAP

    CASCADES NATIONAL RECREATION TRAIL – George Washington & Jefferson National Forests Situated in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Cascades is one of the most popular outdoor recreation spots in southwest Virginia. It features shady picnic spots, a native trout stream, and a 4-mile scenic loop trail. The main attraction is the scenic 66-foot Cascade Falls, a dramatic waterfall located two miles from the parking area. A natural pool at the base of the falls provides a chilly reprieve from the heat of a summer day. TRAIL MAP

    DEVIL’S FORK LOOP TRAIL – Jefferson National Forest The Devil’s Fork Loop Trail provides an impressively beautiful route through an old-growth hemlock and rhododendron forest. The trail’s main attraction is Devil’s Bathtub, located just 1.5 miles from the start. The rushing water of Devil’s Fork shoots out of the soft sandstone and swirls quickly through this stone luge, plummeting into a beautiful pool of blue-green water. Another trail highlight, shortly after Devil’s Bathtub, is the 50-foot waterfall at the mouth of Corder Hollow. TRAIL MAP

    WHITEOAK CANYON – Shenandoah National Park Another wildly popular Shenandoah National Park trail is this one. Why so popular? Six waterfalls reward your effort! The falls range from 35 to 86 feet and feature swimming holes at the bottom of each. Awesome place to propose? Yes. Awesome place to skinny dip? Not so much. Hike in one mile for the lower falls or on up another two miles (and steeper grade) to the upper falls. TRAIL MAP

    BLUE SUCK FALLS TRAIL – Douthat State Park This trail at Douthat State Park is a three-mile moderate to difficult multi-use trail that serves up a waterfall. As a side note, the term ‘suck’ is an Appalachian term for a whirlpool at the base of the falls. TRAIL MAP

    WHITE ROCK FALLS TRAIL – Blue Ridge Parkway A 2.5-mile moderate hike, the highlight is the impressive gorge, which has a waterfall and a natural wading pool. The name White Rock came from the abundant quartz rock found in the area. TRAIL MAP

    SOUTH RIVER FALLS – Shenandoah National Park This 4.4 mile hike leads you along the South River to an impressive waterfall that plunges deep into a canyon.  When the park has experienced lots of rain, this waterfall hike is one of the nicest Shenandoah has to offer. TRAIL MAP

    For more travel inspiration this summer, check out some of Virginia’s lesser known waterfalls.



    Outdoors, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

    7 Most Bike Friendly Cities and Towns

    by Laura | Posted on May 8th, 2014

    Happy National Bike Month!  To celebrate, we have compiled a list of Virginia’s 7 Most Bike-Friendly Cities and Towns. From bike lanes to trail rides, these cities make it easy for bikers to ride for pleasure or with purpose.

    Alexandria – The City of Alexandria was recognized in 2013 for its bike friendliness, both from the League of American Bicyclists as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community and by Virginia Living Magazine as one of “10 Favorite Cycling Destinations.”

    Biking downtown is easy in Alexandria.

    Biking downtown is easy in Alexandria.

    Bike lanes (either dedicated or shared) are available on Cameron, Prince and Pendleton Streets in Old Town as well as Commonwealth Avenue, Mt Vernon Avenue and Braddock Road in Del Ray.  Soon to come are bike lanes on King Street.

    Bike racks have been installed along sidewalks near many local businesses and other locations for biker convenience, like along King Street in Old Town and Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray.

    Alexandria also hosts the Mount Vernon Trail. This 18 mile path takes you from Rosslyn (just across the bridge from Washington, DC) to George Washington’s historic Mount Vernon. As you ride alongside the stunning Potomac River, you’ll pass views of the national monuments, parks, Old Town Alexandria and George Washington’s waterfront estate.

    Arlington – Arlington maintains 50 miles of off-street, multi-use trails for bicycling, walking and jogging. Portions of these trails pass through beautiful natural areas of Arlington’s park system and connect to regional bike trails.  In addition to these off-street trails, Arlington has 36 miles of marked, on-street bicycle routes and 78 miles of recommended on-street routes.

    Excellent dining districts can be found in Ballston, Clarendon, Crystal City and Shirlington – all of which are easily accessed by some of the off-road bike trails and the Capital Bikeshare Program (more on that in a moment!).  Additionally, attractions like Arlington Cemetery, the Air Force Memorial and the Iwo Jima Memorial are all also easily bike-accessible.

    For more information on how easy it is to bike around Arlington, visit www.bikearlington.com.

    Arlington and Alexandria also participates in the Capital Bikeshare Program which puts more than 2,500 bicycles at your fingertips. Choose a bike from more than 300 stations across Washington, D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, VA and Montgomery County, MD and return it to any station near your destination. For more information, visit www.capitalbikeshare.com.

    Harrisonburg – Harrisonburg is the Shenandoah Valley’s premiere biking destination.  The city was recognized as a bronze level ride center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community.  Shared Lane Markings (otherwise known as “Sharrows”) are prevalent in the downtown area and show cyclists the best place to ride on the road.

    The city also offers a wide variety of cycling parks and trails which range from novice to expert experience levels.

    Bike shops like this one in Carytown can be found all over Richmond.

    Bike shops like this one in Carytown can be found all over Richmond.

    Richmond – Among other accolades, Richmond was just recently recognized on a BuzzFeed list of “10 Cities You Should Explore on Two Wheels.”

    This is timely, as Sports Backers just announced the Connect RVA project, a plan to build 20+ miles of new family-friendly bikeways.  The project will encompass both shared and dedicated bike lanes through the heart of downtown and safer trails off the beaten path.  Projected completion is September of 2015, just in time for the UCI Road World Championships being held in Richmond.

    Abingdon – Abingdon is home to the Virginia Creeper Trail, a crushed gravel shared-use trail (bike, hike, equine) connecting Abingdon, VA, with the Virginia-North Carolina border 1.1 mile east of Whitetop Station, VA.  The trail has just been named the 2014 Hall of Fame Inductee for the Rail to Trails Conversancy, which recognizes trails with a high scenic value, high use, trail and trailside amenities and historical significance among other categories.

    A Virginia Creeper Trail extension provides access for people to ride directly into Abingdon after riding the trail. It brings cyclists right into the downtown area at the Abingdon Farmers Market. Lots of restaurants in the downtown area have bicycle racks for riders’ convenience.

    Abingdon is also in the process of creating the Urban Path System, which will be a public system connecting streets and pedestrian sidewalks or trail linkages to residential and public areas within the Town of Abingdon. Neighborhood streets will include landscaping and traffic calming features to effectively manage traffic and encourage attractive and safe pedestrian-friendly environments.

    Virginia Beach – This coastal Virginia city offers the perfect combination of quiet, natural shoreline rides and on-road

    The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is a popular place to ride your bike along the Atlantic coast.

    The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is a popular location to ride your bike along the Atlantic coast.

    bikeaccessibility through the city. The city currently has over 100 miles of trails including asphalt paths, nature trails and on-road bike routes.

    Bike trails near the coast are available at Virginia Beach state parks such as Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, First Landing State Park, and False Cape State Park, which has been untouched by humans and is only accessible on foot, by boat, or by bike.

    In addition to its rides through nature, the city also offers a Bikeways and Trails Map indicating bike accessibility throughout the cities major roads.  The Virginia Beach Boardwalk also offers a way for bikers to view the beauty of the Virginia coastline, while also shopping and dining right on the waterfront.

    Roanoke – The Roanoke Valley offers a variety of bike-centric events throughout the year, with many taking place during National Bike Month.

    Grandin Village is one of Roanoke’s most bike-accessible attractions and brings an old-school charm to its over 80 shops and restaurants.

    An Art by Bike route has also recently been developed around the city, offering over 20 stops for riders to access and enjoy the city’s art on two wheels.

    Do you love to bike in any other Virginia cities or towns? Leave us a comment and let us know!

    Laura Young is a Public Relations intern at Virginia Tourism Corporation and a senior at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.



    Outdoors, Outdoors | 4 Comments

    Spring Golf Gallery

    by Tom | Posted on May 5th, 2014

    Olde Mill Green at Dusk

    So you just hit that one glorious tee shot in your round – the proverbial golf shot that keeps you coming back to the game (despite the frustrating 97 you will shoot). How much better will that shot be if it heads off into the sunset on a beautifully scenic course? One where you can spend as much time admiring the landscape and natural beauty around you as you do your shots (or much more, depending on your game). If the pollen is not your enemy, this time of year is ideal to enjoy a cool, comfortable round of golf among the Azaleas and Virginia Dogwoods.

    Check out some of the great views you might see around the Commonwealth:

    Old Hickory

    Old Hickory Golf Club in Woodbridge is a great course for players of all levels. Check out the unique “19th” hole, the challenge hole that has nothing to do with the clubhouse watering hole, but might help settle a score!

     

    Riverfront Golf Course

    Riverfront is a semi-private course situated on the banks of the Nansemond River in Suffolk. Riverfront has an old-style layout that winds its way through the riverfront acreage, tidal marshes, huge oaks and pines, and vast rolling farmland.

     

    Raspberry Falls Golf Club

    Raspberry Falls in Leesburg, is an upscale, daily-fee golf course that holds the distinction of being Virginia’s only Gary Player Signature Design. The most dramatic and formidable feature of Raspberry Falls is its Scottish style stacked-sod bunkers.

     

    Olde Mill Golf Resort

    Olde Mill Golf Resort in Laurel Fork is one of the state’s most scenic mountain courses, just minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

     

    The Golden Horseshoe is one of Virginia's most famous golf clubs. Two courses created by Robert Trent Jones Sr and Rees Jones offer a classic and beautiful challenge.

    The Golden Horseshoe is one of Virginia’s most famous golf clubs. Two courses created by Robert Trent Jones Sr and Rees Jones offer a classic and beautiful challenge.

     

    Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club

    Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club is a championship eighteen hole golf course nestled in the tranquility of Virginia’s historic Shenandoah Valley. Blue Ridge was even ranked #4 Best Courses you can play in Virginia by Golfweek Magazine.

     

    The Omni Homestead Resort

    Another example of great Virginia mountain golf, the Cascades courses at the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs are where golf legend Sam Snead began his career.

     

    Seeking more Virginia golf? Go to http://www.virginia.org/Golf/ for information on Virginia’s golf courses and special Golfing Deals and Travel Packages

     



    Golf, Outdoors, Virginia Destinations | 2 Comments

    15 Festivals for the Adrenaline Junkie

    by Casey | Posted on April 22nd, 2014

    For some, it’s simply not enough to enjoy a festival atmosphere. Where’s the challenge or fun in that? Festivals must be experiential to really rise to the expectation of dedicated adrenaline junkies, and these 15 Virginia festivals do just that.

    Dominion Riverrock

    Dominion Riverrock

    River Fun The most rigorous, diverse outdoor festival in Virginia is Dominion Riverrock, and it’s held each May in Richmond. Riverrock brings kayaking, biking, bouldering, trail running, slacklining, paddle boarding and more for three days of challenging fun and spectator entertainment. Musical highlights for this year are The Infamous Stringdusters and Matisyahu.

    The Annual Smith River Fest in Axton is dedicated to those who live for and love the river life. Held each August, the festival centers around Smith River activities, from the 4.8-mile river race to the 5K mud run.

    Henricus Mudstock

    Henricus Mudstock

    Mud Fun

    The Virginia Motorsports Park in Petersburg is the venue for the Rugged Maniac on May 3. A little over three miles of muddy courses with 20 obstacles are yours for the conquering, while the festival area includes mechanical bull riding and music.

    Biking Fun

    Is it biking that really spins your wheels? Don’t miss the Cap2Cap Bike Event on May 10. The ride can be as long as you wish with quarter-, half-, full-century, and 15-mile fun ride options between Richmond and Williamsburg. Well-stocked rest areas, a delicious lunch and beer are promised.

    Appalachian Trail Days

    Appalachian Trail Days

    Hiking Fun

    May 16-18 is Appalachian Trail Days in Damascus, and it’s the place to be if you’re an avid hiker or lover of the AT. There’s lots of food and plenty of family fun available.

    Just Plain Fun

    XtremeFest of the Blue Ridge will be held May 31 in Waynesboro’s Constitution Park. BMX stunters will give adventure-seeking kids a thrill while the climbing wall lets them work off their energy. Put a kayak in the South River and enjoy the other opportunities of the festival at this family event.

    Where will the need for adrenaline take you this spring and summer? Go hard and go get ‘em!

    Related:

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    Festivals, Outdoors | Comments Off