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    Check out this awesome #aerial of the CSX A-Line #Train #Bridge (circa 1919) you've probably seen when driving on the Powhite Parkway crossing #JamesRiver! Props to @vintage_rva for the incredible capture. Tag your #VA photos with #LoveVa for a chance to be featured here! #trainbridge #drone #flyinghigh #rva
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  • Rip It & Grip It! Epic Mountain Biking Trails

    by Stefanie | Posted on August 28th, 2014

    Rotor Meltdown at Carvins Cove

    Rotor Meltdown at Carvins Cove

    Experiencing the great outdoors is one of the best things to do in Virginia. How about experiencing the great outdoors on a mountain bike? We’re not talking about a leisurely stroll through the woods. We’re talking about rampin’ tree stumps, mud in your face, rocky terrain mountain biking. There’s epic mountain biking trails all over, so if you’re a mountain biker looking for some new tracks, check out some of these!

    Virginia Mountain Biking Trail
    After a decade of exploring, preparing and linking sections of trail together, guides with¬†Shenandoah Mountain Touring, with encouragement from the IMBA, have made Virginia’s first permanent long distance backcountry trail a reality. The continuous off-road Virginia Mountain Biking Trail spans the length of Virginia’s Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains from¬†Strasburg¬†to¬†Damascus. It links eight major trail systems in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, consists of primarily singletrack trails, covering 480 miles and climbing 65,000 feet. Hard-core mountain bikers can be one of the first to tackle this new epic trail that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine¬†recently said is “poised to be the South’s sweetest stretch of singletrack.”

    Southern Traverse Trail – Harrisonburg
    Ride into history on the Southern Traverse Epic trail located in Virginia’s George Washington National Forest. The trailhead is near the Confederate Breastworks, an army camp created to stop Union troops from reaching Shenandoah Mountain.¬†With 3,000 feet of climbing over 32 epic miles, this ride promises to test your courage and endurance. The backbone of the Southern Traverse is the south end of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, an 11-mile singletrack ridge-ride. The ridge is accessed by a doubletrack climb that ascends 1,800 feet through a picturesque hardwood hollow. The snaking trail follows the ridge south and is an amazing melody of smooth and fast downhills, and technical rock gardens.

    Carvins Cove Natural Preserve – Roanoke
    Carvins Cove has a wide variety of single track trails, ranging from fast, smooth flowing trails to technical, rocky terrain. The Appalachian Trail follows the park boundary along the northern half of the park. The short, but difficult singletrack trail features bench-cut areas that run along the steep hillsides, which require special attention. There are two double black diamond trails and 5 black diamond tracks throughout the Natural Preserve.

    Fountainhead Regional Park Mountain Bike Train – Fairfax Station
    Often described as a rollercoaster for mountain bikes, the Fountainhead Regional Park Mountain Bike Trail System offers mountain bikers one of the most popular trails in the region. For an advanced mountain biker, the abundance of fast single track, banked turns, bridges, ledges, steep climbs, and fast descents will keep your eyes locked on the trail ahead of you. Once you have completed one loop, or all three loops, you will be hooked and begging to do it again.

    Freedom Park – Williamsburg
    Choose “Trail C” of the six mountain biking trails at Freedom Park and experience the premiere Freeride Trail, boasting dozens of TTFs (Technical Trail Features), including dirt rollers, berms, log skinnies, teeter totters, A-frames, table-tops, gap jumps, gravity pits and more. “Trail D” is the park’s most difficult trail at five miles long and is the most overall technical cross-country terrain. Be prepared for sudden changes through hardwood and pine forests, several sets of switchbacks, and many short but twisty (and rooty) uphill sections with sharp turns.

    George Washington National Forest
    There’s certainly no shortage of epic biking in the George Washington National Forest. Offering 24 black diamond and two double-black diamonds, this place is a mountain biker’s mecca. Try out the short, painful ascent to the Blue Ridge line with the 0.9-mile Blue Loop Trail or the 1,2-mile Upper Torry Ridge Trail, a Rocky Ridge Ride with stunning views. Both are going to give you the double-black diamond experience on a short track. BE CAREFUL! Of the 24 single black diamond trails, riding the Virginia Endurance Series is a must! This 44.3-mile epic ridge showcases three phenomenal trails, including Lookout Mountain Loop, Wolf Ridge Loop and Narrowback Mountain Loop. The series includes back country, ultra-mega, hand crafted, all day joy rides. Slightly over half of the trail is single track with heights reaching 3,287′.

    Bryce Mountain Bike Park (Bryce Resort) – Basye
    The fairly new Bike Park at Bryce Resort features seven lift-accessed trails. The new Quad Lift eliminated the need to paddle uphill, allowing maximum time for downhill thrills. Or take ride up and taking in the scenery of the surrounding mountains. The Park’s advanced trails reach up to two miles, with one black diamond and three double black diamond trails.

    Virginia Creeper Trail

    Virginia Creeper Trail

    Virginia Creeper Trail – Damascus
    There are several single-track trails along the Virginia Creeper Trail and if you’re looking for some epic thrills, take the Iron Mountain Trail. Along the trail is¬†Beech Grove, also known as the ‚ÄúMotorcycle Trail.” This is one of the more technical trails on the mountain, starting out as a smooth, buff, single track, with a couple of nice switchbacks near the top. After about a quarter mile it turns into a gnarly rock garden, with some larger rocks and water bars, as well as a couple of creek crossings. After you cross a ‚ÄúFrench drain,‚ÄĚ the last 100 yards is a wide open double track with some nice opportunities to catch a little air!

    Dragon’s Back Trail – Salem
    This 12-mile, single track, black diamond trail sounds like a mountain biker’s dream. The trail system includes three different trails, all boasting different terrains and qualities. Beginning at Turkey Trail, bikers will pedal the rocky, gravel roads to the bottom of the Deer Trail, which is a very steep, very narrow, single track grunt to the top of the ridge line.¬†The 2.5-mile Grouse Trail features rocky to switchback terrain. As you climb closer to the top, the trail becomes extremely rocky, making it very difficult to climb. Located less than 20 minutes from downtown Roanoke, Dragon’s Back takes riders on a back country journey.¬†This spiny ridge trail is very technical and often requires some hiking with your bike, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

    York River State Park – Williamsburg
    York River State Park 16 miles of designated single-track trails, as well as 15+ miles of double-track, multi-use trails. The Marle Ravine Trail is the original 6.5 mile, single-track loop at the park. This trail runs counter-clockwise and it is the most challenging trail at the park. The trail offers challenging roots, switch backs, short, steep ascents, flowing descents, and four wooden bridge crossings. The John Blair Trail is the newest trail in the YRSP trail system. This bi-directional trail traverses eastward crossing the park’s existing fire roads, allowing single-track access to some of the most beautiful areas of the park.

    Upper County Park (James City Co.) – Toano
    The 3.7-mile loop trail at Upper County Park is a technical one, with tight turns and off camber sections. Aerobically, this trail is one of the most challenging around, where many climbs come one after the other with few flat areas to recover. You will find it hard to take you hands off the bar to grab a water bottle or even your hydration pack hose. The trail sees little use, so expect a few sticks and branches and a narrow tread through low bush, which covers much of the forest floor along the trail.

    Pocahontas State Park – Chesterfield
    The Lakeview I, II & III trails in Pocahontas State Park, are nothing to approach lightly! Expect to experience a creek crossing, lots of small logs, some expose rocky shelves, some basic rock gardens and a lot of climbing and descending.  Expert offshoots add more rocky features, log skinnies, jumps and some technical, bouldered sections. Without including the red offshoots, Lakeview 1 is roughly a six mile loop from the parking lot.  Lakeview II extends this to about 8.5 miles and Lakeview III extends it to a total of 11.5 miles.

     

    boasts a 13.7-mile loop.¬†The trail is an extensive, difficult loop of connected trails with additional loops to explore. The trail incorporates portions of the Old Mill Bicycle Trail and connects to many other trails in the park. This trail circumnavigates the entire portion of the park north of State Route 655. For most of its length the Fendley Station Trail passes through mixed hardwood forest and some of the more remote park areas. Pocahontas also boasts a single and double diamond each. With the single-diamond Morel Ravine Trail, expect many rock gardens, uphill log crossings and other technical features. The double-diamong Lil’ West VA Trail is the hardest in the park, with advanced man-made features like teeters, skinnies, narrow wooden bridges and extensive rock gardens.

    expect to experience a creek crossing, lots of small logs, some expose rocky shelves, some basic rock gardens and a lot of climbing and descending.  Expert offshoots add more rocky features, log skinnies, jumps and some technical, bouldered sections.  Without including the red offshoots, Lakeview 1 (blue on this map) is roughly a six mile loop from the Heritage Center parking lot.  Lakeview 2 (green on this map) extends this to about 8.5 miles and Lakeview 3 (red on this map) extends it to a total of 11.5 miles.

    Douthat State Park – Clifton Forge
    Douthat State Park  is pure mountain splendor. Located in a remote pocket of the Allegheny Mountains, it features a pristine lake as its centerpiece. Fat tire enthusiasts come for the 40 miles of singletrack with challenges for all levels. Experts find favor with many of the long sustained climbs and payoff screaming descents, but there is plenty of variety for everyone to make this one of the best mountain biking destinations in Virginia.

    Elizabeth Furnace

    Elizabeth Furnace

    Elizabeth Furnace – Strasburg
    This is a tough ride. If you’re new to the sport, you’ll probably hate it unless you turn around at Strasburg Reservoir and stay away from Signal Knob and the Green Mountain climb. People come here all the time to tame the steeps and conquer the rocky descents on their high-end full suspension bikes. They usually fail. So why do so many cyclists keep coming back year-round, winter, spring, summer and fall? Simply put,¬†Elizabeth Furnace¬†is home to some of the best all-around mountain bike trails in all of Northern Virginia. It’s steep. It’s dangerous. It’s long. It’s fast. It’s a blast.¬†Trail Surface: Mountainous, rocky singletrack and forest roads.

     

    For more trails and resources, check out these sites:

     

    There’s plenty of epic mountain biking trails around the Commonwealth. What’s your favorite? Share!

     

     



    Destinations, Outdoors, Outdoors, Tour & Travel, Travel Ideas, Virginia Destinations | 0 Comments

    15 Places to Sip and Savor Virginia Craft Beer

    by Casey | Posted on August 28th, 2014

    Vibe is everything. Vibe is the mood, the company, and even the flavors. If you’re looking to experience great Virginia craft beer in an ultra-cool setting, you might check out this list – and please – add to it with your opinion of what makes a great sip-and-savor craft beer experience.

    Breweries with Outdoor Seating and Great Views

    1. Legend in Richmond is situated on the south side of the James River. Their deck has umbrella patio tables and an unobstructed view of the downtown Richmond skyline. Evenings are beautiful.

    Wild Wolf, Nellysford

    Wild Wolf, Nellysford

    2. Blue Mountain in Afton also has umbrella patio tables, but their view is reflected in their name. Settle in with a pizza of fresh local ingredients and a cold Full Nelson Pale Ale to appreciate the blue mountains on display.

    3. Devils Backbone Basecamp is in Nellysford, just down the road from Blue Mountain, thus sharing a very familiar view. The grounds at DBB are expansive, as they play host to festivals and other large events from time to time. And they have an awesome bar area, too.

    4. Also in Nellysford is Wild Wolf, but their set up is like a little town square. The biergarten has a koi pond with a waterfall and a gazebo overlooking it, all situated beneath a magnificent old tree. The on-site restaurant serves up scratch-made delights that you can enjoy on the wrap-around porch, if you desire. The mountain views are outstanding; just see the photo above!

    5. Old Bust Head in Vint Hill has a brand new beer garden – complete with a pergola for shade – to go with their brand new tap room. It’s a happenin’ place, with live music and a lively crowd, plus you never know when beautiful macaws or baby goats may drop by. Be sure to read the label on your bottle as each beer name is tied to a local tale, which the label explains. I wonder if Vixen Irish Red’s story might make me blush …

    Restaurants with a Great View Serving Virginia Craft Beer

    6.¬†Bubba’s Restaurant and Crab House¬†is a waterfront restaurant just off the Lynnhaven Inlet in Virginia Beach. It’s situated such that you can enjoy the sunset on one of the decks and sip a Virginia craft beer with your delicious straight-from-the-sea fare.

    7.¬†Catch 31 is also a Virginia Beach restaurant, and you’ll find it right on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. Toes in the sand? They can be within just a few steps.

    Mountain Lake Lodge & Conservatory

    Mountain Lake Lodge & Conservatory

    8. The Waterfront Market in Old Town Alexandria is perched right on the Potomac River. The views are immense and Port City is cold on tap!

    9. Stony Creek Tavern at Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke has Virginia craft beer on tap, sweet views, and quite the story to tell, too. Did you know the beloved film, Dirty Dancing, was filmed at Mountain Lake Lodge? Now you know.

    10. In McGahyesville, Massanutten’s Fareways Restaurant and Lounge offers a Tuesday night Beer Lovers’ Dinner, a five-course pairing that includes details from the chef as well as from the resident beer expert. If you’re not into beer tasting at quite that level, you can still enjoy a craft beer anytime at Fareways with a view of the Mountain Greens Golf Course.

    11. Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill offers a great view of the Clarendon / Courthouse neighborhoods of Arlington, and the rooftop truly is a fun place to be. At least two Virginia brews are on tap for your sit-sip-savor enjoyment.

    12. Supper is a brand new Southern restaurant located in the trendy neighborhood of Ghent in Norfolk. The comfort food will beckon your return, but it may be the knowledge of rooftop dining that draws you in. The Norfolk skyline glistens not too far away and the tapped Virginia craft beer is cold.

    13. Continuing with the rooftop theme, try Postbellum in Richmond. Don’t go for the view on this one, but the overall feel. The space includes a long bar, TVs, pub and patio tables, booths (!), and lights strung above. There’s plenty of room and an unobstructed view of blue skies or stars, whichever your preference.

    James River Brewing, Scottsville

    James River Brewing, Scottsville

    Breweries Cloaked in History and a Story to Tell

    14.¬†James River Brewing in Scottsville is located in a 19th century tobacco factory alongside Mink Creek, a tributary to the James. The tasting room has a rustic, down-home feel with timber accents and barrels for tables. Out back, by the creek in the beer garden, you’ll find a wooden swing in the shade, waiting for you to linger with a Green Eyed Lady.

    15. Jefferson Street Brewery is housed in the same Craddock Terry shoe factory as the Craddock Terry Hotel in Lynchburg. Learn a little something about the history of the facility while sampling the latest suds.

    So where do you go for a great Virginia craft beer? Leave a comment to tell us about the best vibe you’ve found and why it’s great.

    Virginia is for Lovers.
    Request a Travel Guide or see the eGuide.



    Beer, Travel Ideas | 0 Comments

    The Crooked Road: Far from Straight & Narrow

    by Stefanie | Posted on August 27th, 2014

    You don’t have to stay on the straight and narrow to get to The Crooked Road. This 333-mile trail of pure Virginia Heritage Music is going to take you on a journey through the history of the origins of country, bluegrass, gospel and more.

    “A place of beauty, a place of song. This is The Crooked Road.”

    As you travel, pull of at any of the 26 Crooked Road wayside exhibits, where you can learn more about the music and musicians who have made their mark in each location.

    Home of the Birthplace of Country Music, Bristol brings musicians, scholars and fans alike to pay homage to country music’s past. The familiar melodies of the historic Bristol Sessions in 1927 still echo through the only city that can celebrate its unique title of the Birthplace of Country Music.¬†¬†The Bristol Sessions were not the first country music recordings, but they were the first country music recordings to be mass produced and distributed. Because of the influence these sessions had on the music industry, the 1927 Bristol Sessions are also known as the ‘Big Bang’ of country music.

    Johnny Cash once said, “The Bristol Sessions is the single-most important event in the history of country music.”

    The Carter Family Fold is a rustic, 1,000 seat music shed offering traditional Appalachian music.

    The Carter Family Fold is a rustic, 1,000 seat music shed offering traditional Appalachian music.The Carter Family Fold is a rustic, 1,000 seat music shed offering traditional music.

    There’s nine major venues throughout the trail, each telling the story of The Crooked Road’s history.

    Jams are abound throughout the trail. Stay the night around one of the venues and take in the excitement of the music.

    Plan a trip around some of the eclectic annual festivals along The Crooked Road, including:

     

    Heartwood Artisans Center

    Heartwood Artisans Center

    Experience The Crooked Road’s treasure that is Heartwood. It’s the gateway to Southwest Virginia, homeplace of traditional music and serves up the best of regional craft.

    Explore the rich musical heritage of Southwest Virginia at Heartwood ‚Äď and glimpse the frontiers of fusion with other traditions and instruments.¬†Heartwood is also a performance place for the frontiers of this music, as performers explore new instruments, fuse with other musical traditions or push their horizons toward new forms of expression in special concerts and other events. Every Thursday night, enjoy live music and Heartwood’s special BBQ menu. Its restaurant serves up lunch, Thursday BBQ, Sunday breakfast, and a coffee and wine bar.

    Shop at The Crooked Road store for artisan crafts, apparel, handmade instruments, music and more.

    Nine major venues, more than 60 affiliated venues and 26 wayside exhibits. The Crooked Road will lead you on an adventure through the history of country music.

     

     

     



    48 Hours, Arts, Destinations, Events, Festivals, History, History, Outdoors, Tour & Travel, Uncategorized, Virginia Destinations | 0 Comments

    Five Ideas for Traveling in September

    by Casey | Posted on August 27th, 2014

    September is a busy month for families, but just another day in the life for those who are child-free. Here are some broad travel ideas to suit each crowd.

    Virginia Beach

    Virginia Beach

     

    1. The Beach. The crowds have diminished and the weather is still warm enough for a dip or sunbathing, not to mention the rates begin to scale back, which means you can maybe stay a day or two longer.

    Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park

    Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park

    2. The Mountains. Autumn foliage won’t peak in the Blue Ridge until mid-October, but if you travel ahead of time, you can scope out the perfect look-out points to watch those colors creep across the Alleghenies and into the Valley. Regardless of fall’s hues, the mountains are just plain beautiful and perfect any time of the year.

    Shopping in Alexandria

    Shopping in Alexandria

    3. Shopping. Families who have put off back-to-school shopping will find end-of-summer deals everywhere, not to mention the extra savings that outlets yield. Additionally, those in search of furniture must consider a trip to Green Front Furniture Company in Farmville.

    Colonial Williamsburg

    Colonial Williamsburg

    4. History. You choose your style, speed, and which period you’d like to explore. Virginia has many historical touch-points of interest, and September is a nice weather month to be out exploring.

    State Fair of Virginia

    State Fair of Virginia

    5. Festivals and Fairs. Speaking of nice weather, get on your walking shoes for a stroll around a festival, or dust off the lawn chair for a music festival. Oh, and the State Fair of Virginia is this month!

     

    See the events calendar for September to further round out your plans.

     

    Virginia is for Lovers.
    Request a free Travel Guide or view the eGuide.



    Travel Ideas | 0 Comments

    Eight Boutique Hotels & Vintage Stays in Virginia

    by Casey | Posted on August 26th, 2014

    Attention to detail, upscale finishes, and impeccable customer service are all things you’d expect to find in a boutique hotel, and according to online reviews and media, these Virginia stays excel.

    The Craddock Terry Hotel is quickly recognized by the large red heel on the front. Once a shoe factory producing nearly 100,000 pairs per day, this brick warehouse is now a very fashionable, 44-room luxury accommodation in downtown Lynchburg. The urban, industrial feel is not lost. Each room boasts incredible mountain or river views thanks to the 9-foot-tall windows, and exposed brick and beams serve as sturdy, beautiful reminders of the buildings’ past. As a finishing touch, you’re going to love receiving your complimentary continental breakfast ¬†in an old-fashioned wooden shoeshine box. Whimsy is in style at Craddock Terry!

    >> Travel Packages

    Morrison House

    Morrison House

    Nestled off King Street in Old Town Alexandria is¬†Morrison House,¬†a well-appointed Kimpton property graced with Federal Period reproduction pieces. Acclaim for the hotel includes a four-star rating from Mobil, four-diamond rating from AAA, and it was named one of the “Top 30 Hotels in the South” by readers of Conde Nast Traveler in 2013. Morrison House has 45 guestrooms and suites, and a bed and breakfast feel to its intimate atmosphere. Complimentary wine, coffee and tea are served daily. “Elegant” is perhaps the best word to describe this gem of Old Town.

     

    The Charlotte Hotel & Restaurant

    The Charlotte Hotel & Restaurant

    The Charlotte Hotel in Onancock is a sweet find on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. With just eight rooms, you’ll have plenty of peace in this 1907 reprieve. Trip Advisor reviewers have called it “delightful,” “charming,” and “a tiny slice of paradise.” To add to the comfortable stay, a restaurant featuring house-made menu items gives you a true taste of the Shore.

     

    General Francis Marion Hotel

    General Francis Marion Hotel

    The Roaring Twenties are all the rage at the General Francis Marion Hotel in Marion, Virginia. While “thoroughly modern” for today’s travelers, the General Francis does indeed date to 1927 and boasts the period ambiance one would expect. Pieces of its historical past include the original terrazo floors, the registration desk, and switchboard. The hotel was honored with the Gabriella Page Historic Preservation Award by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. Do be sure to enjoy a libation at The Black Rooster, their on-site restaurant that gives a wink back to the black rooster being code for “drinks served here” during Prohibition.

     

    Linden Row Inn

    Linden Row Inn

    Richmond seeps history and the 1840s Linden Row Inn embodies it, from its architecture of seven integrated Greek Revival row houses to its garden, where a young Edgar Allen Poe played, courted, and perhaps named the “enchanted garden” in his poem To Helen. The Parlour Suites and the Main House Rooms have fabulous old 12-foot ceilings with windows just as high, while the Parlour Suites also boast pocket doors, gasolier lighting, and marble fireplaces. The Garden Rooms are located in the carriage houses, spaces the Inn calls “cozy and intimate enclaves.” Without a doubt, your authentic Richmond experience begins at Linden Row Inn.

    >> Travel Packages

     

    The Georges. Photo by Gordon Gregory.

    The Georges. Photo by Gordon Gregory.

    Newly opened but historically preserved and treasured is The Georges in historic downtown Lexington. Named for George Washington and George C. Marshall of Washington and Lee and Virginia Military Institute fame, The Georges is an 18-room boutique hotel occupying two buildings across from one another on Main Street. An on-site restaurant and casual piano bar are just the beginning of how scrumptious this property is. Guests will be delighted with a breathtaking view as distinct as the room in which they find themselves. Luxury linens and bath necessities add to the desire to linger that this retreat will certainly impose.

     

    Suites at 249

    Suites at 249

    The Suites at 249 are found in the historic district of Culpeper inside renovated row buildings, but just like the aforementioned properties, the six Suites embrace the history they lie within. Exposed brick and hardwood floors make these modern, expansive suites a very comfortable home base from which to explore. The one thing that makes the Suites different from the others is the lack of concierge or bellhop to call upon. Once you check in, you come and go as you please by way of coded, keyless entry for both the front door and your room. This could be the perfect place for the couple who wants nothing more than to be left alone.

     

    Bolling Wilson Hotel

    Bolling Wilson Hotel

    In Wytheville is the newly renovated¬†Bolling Wilson Hotel, a 30-room gem set to open Fall 2014. Named after Wytheville-born¬†Edith Bolling Wilson, President Woodrow Wilson’s wife, the property is a contributing building on the National Register of Historic Places. Guests can expect to find beautifully restored and preserved architecture in the lobby with classic high ceilings, arched windows, and intricate moulding. Additionally, an on-site southern restaurant with outdoor dining and a rooftop patio promise a memorable experience.

    There’s nothing like a place that has a great story to tell, and these eight properties are just a tip of the iceberg. Discover more lovely places to stay through the links below.



    Couples, History, Travel Ideas | 0 Comments