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Posts Tagged ‘outdoors’

Hikes, Bikes & Brews

by Casey | Posted on August 29th, 2013

Many of Virginia’s craft breweries happen to be located near great hiking and biking trails. Head out with the ones you love, then come back and settle in for an ice cold beverage and great local hospitality.

The Priest Overlook

The Priest Overlook

The Appalachian Trail

Around the Waynesboro entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway:

On the Buena Vista/Lexington side of the Blue Ridge Parkway:

Into Roanoke off of the Blue Ridge Parkway:

The Virginia Creeper Trail

On the western end of the trail, in Abingdon, visit Wolf Hills Brewing Company. To the east and in the middle of the trail sits The Damascus Brewery in none other than Damascus.

The Virginia Capital Trail

Bridging the Colonial Capital to today’s Richmond Capital, the “Cap to Cap” runs near Route 5 from Richmond to Williamsburg and you can find these breweries not too far off the beaten path.

Mount Vernon Trail

This trail runs from George Washington’s Mount Vernon, along the Potomac River north to Arlington. Concentrate on the Alexandria to Arlington portions  of the trail and find that there are four breweries not too far away.

Washington &  Old Dominion Trail

Also in Arlington, if you venture along the W&OD Trail the 44.5 miles to Purcellville, you could encounter six breweries without veering too far out of the way.

What’s your reward for a day in Virginia’s great outdoors? Find out more about Virginia’s craft breweries and the trails, too, to plan your next excursion.

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Beer, Fall in Virginia, Outdoors | Comments Off

8 Virginia ATV Destinations

by Casey | Posted on July 15th, 2013

Whether you own an ATV or have yet to experience the exhilaration of navigating an All-Terrain Vehicle along trails with mud, fallen branches, tree roots or whoops sections. Virginia has places for you to ride and outfitters to get you started.

South Pedlar

South Pedlar

Novice Riders

The illustrious Primland Resort is an upscale mountaintop reprieve in Meadows of Dan that happens to offer guided ATV tours through portions of their 12,000 acres. Learn to ride an ATV or two-person side-by-side with the comfort of knowing help is with you on the trail. While you may bring your own ATV, you may not ride without a guide. Reservations are required to tour. Inquire about an overnight stay.

Appalachian Adventures in Luray offers ATV rentals for use on their private trails. Basic instruction is provided for those learning to ride. One and two-hour expeditions available. Inquire about an ATV Getaway with lodging included.

Experienced Riders

If you know what you’re doing, there’s no need for a guide. Hit these trails and parks with a group of friends or family for a day of fun.

Big Boys Playground in Harrisonburg is a supervised environment; get help if you need it. The park is open to anything with two or four wheels, basically. Motorcross, trucks, ATVs … come one, come all, get dirty. A couple of renowned mud holes will challenge all vehicles, even the big ones. Riders will also find a rock course and trails to conquer. Open year ’round with no special permit required. Nominal fee.

Moto Cove Offroading is a park in Gore that offers four one-way trails that vary in length and difficulty. A beginner trail is a 1.8-mile loop while the most advanced riders might try their wheels on the 22-mile loop. Riding is available from 8 a.m. until dark. No special permit required. Nominal fee. Adjacent camping available, but ATVs are not permitted within.

Spearhead Trail is a brand new trail system that just opened its first trail this summer in Saint Paul. Mountain View Trail offers one picturesque view after another along 75 miles that entice all skill levels. Trail permits are required. Expect to see the next trail of this system – Pocahontas – to open this fall or winter. A total of 500 miles will be accessible by the end of 2015.

Spearhead Trail

Spearhead Trail

Peters Mill Run and Taskers Gap OHV System offers 40 miles of trails.  Five trailheads from the Edinburg vicinity on the west side of Massanutten Mountain give you options on where to unload and get going. The Edinburg Gap trailhead has a restroom. OHV stands for Off-Highway Vehicles and includes four-wheel drive vehicles (trucks, jeeps, etc.), motorcycles, motorbikes, and ATVs. A permit is required.

South Pedlar ATV Trails is a looping network 19 miles long specifically designed for recreational ATVing in Amherst County. Open April through November. A permit is required.

Slades Park is located in Surry and offers twelve miles of trails across 300 acres. A pee wee track is available for kids and beginners. Full hook-up camping sites are available. Nominal fee.

Ready for a muddy good time? Plan your trip at or request a free Travel Guide.

Outdoors | 2 Comments

8 Incredible Virginia Summer Music Festivals

by Casey | Posted on July 1st, 2013

The words summer and music go together like peanut butter and jelly. They’re matches made in heaven and very enjoyable when experienced together.

Galax Fiddlers' Convention

The Galax Fiddlers’ Convention is a competition/concert/jam session rolled into one.

If you haven’t yet done so, dust the cobwebs from your folding chairs and throw them in the trunk. You’re going to need them for these eight amazing summer music festivals in Virginia.

1. The world’s largest and oldest fiddler’s convention is found in Galax, and you can count on it being around for years to come. Held every summer during the second week of August, the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention welcome musicians and fans from around the world. In fact, Galax is called the World’s Capital of Oldtime Mountain Music. Go see and hear what you’ve been missing out on August 5-10 when the 78th annual convention convenes.

Listen to the FloyFest playlist on Spotify

2. Seven stages and more than 50 artists are scheduled for this year’s FloydFest, a four-day celebration of art and music spread over 80 acres on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 170.5. Visit the Global Village for arts workshops and demonstrations from 100 vendors and artisans. Plenty of food, a Children’s Universe and so much more! Scheduled artists include Old Crow Medicine Show, The Lumineers (ho hey!), John Butler Trio and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.

Listen to the Red Wing Roots Festival playlist on Spotify3. Red Wing Roots Festival is a brand new music festival, but it’s big and has huge potential. Don’t miss this inaugural event at Natural Chimneys in Mt. Solon July 12-14. The biggest draw of this event is the volume of entertainment. Expect four stages with 40 bands, including big names like The Del McCoury Band, The Sam Bush Band, Tim O’Brien, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and The Steel Wheels. A kid’s stage will include special performances and workshops.

Richmond Jazz Festival

The Richmond Jazz Festival showcases top artists in an intimate, casual atmosphere.

4. The Richmond Jazz Festival has quickly become the premier event of its kind. This year the festival welcomes giants of jazz like Jill Scott, Michael McDonald, Chick Corea & The Vigil, Terrence Blanchard, and Dr. John & The Nite Trippers. Don’t miss this one. It’s August 9-11 in Richmond.

5. The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival in Orkney Springs is celebrating its 50th season this summer and promises to pack a punch. The kicker to this festival is that it’s not consecutive days, but spread throughout the summer season, giving you more chances to enjoy the tunes. Of note are Kris Kristofferson on August 3, Marty Stuart on August 9 and Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul on August 31.

6. The Verizon Wireless American Music Festival at Virginia Beach brings in bands representing multiple American genres from all over – local, regional and national. Five stages will welcome more than 30 bands this Labor Day weekend (August 30-September 1). The major headliners are Third Eye Blind, Barenaked Ladies and Daughtry, but other well-known groups like Fuel, Smash Mouth, Carbon Leaf and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are also on the bill.

7. Chamber music lovers will adore Staunton Music Festival, a nine-day celebration occurring August 16-24. Nearly 30 concerts by more than 60 of the world’s finest chamber musicians will perform at historic venues throughout downtown Staunton. Expect to hear pieces from the Renaissance through today with world premiers by composers-in-residence. Who wouldn’t love to be present for a world premier?!

Listen to the Interlocken Festival playlist on Spotify8. Extend your summer into the second weekend of September (September 5-8). It will be so worth it because that’s when Lockn’ Music Festival takes over Oak Ridge Estate in Arrington. It’s a four-day music festival with artists like Gov’t Mule, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, The Black Crowes, John Fogerty, The String Cheese Incident, Punch Brothers, Widespread Panic and Zac Brown of Zac Brown Band.

Find more fantastic festivals and events.

*Note: These aren’t ranked, simply numbered. Feel free to leave a comment about your favorite or tell us if we missed one that’s on your list.

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Festivals, Outdoors | 7 Comments

4 Ideas for Foodies Who LOVE the Outdoors

by Casey | Posted on June 28th, 2013

You love food. You love the outdoors. Marry the two in Virginia, where we deliver both equally well.

Kayak to wine, clams and oysters.

Kayak to wine, clams and oysters.

1. Take to the Atlantic or Chesapeake Bay and catch your own dinner, but leave the cooking to one of Virginia Beach’s fine establishments. They’ll prepare it any way you like while you enjoy a little time with the ones you love.

2. Paddle away in a kayak for oysters, clams or even wine, if you like, from Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Find littleneck clams buried in the mud of Cherrystone Creek when you sign up for a kayak clamming tour with SouthEast Expeditions. SEE also offers a kayak winery tour to award-winning Chatham Vineyards or Holly Grove Vineyards. Check the calendar at Chatham to look for special oyster and Chardonnay pairings.

Morel found by Steve Haas Mushrooms

Morel found by Steve Haas Mushrooms

3. Take a guided hunt for wild mushrooms! Really, take a guided hunt. I can’t overemphasize the need to hunt mushrooms with someone who KNOWS mushrooms. Connect with Steve Haas Mushrooms – HaaShrooms – in Richmond. He has the connections to lead you on “Wild Food Forays” in Virginia. After you reap the rewards of the hunt, ask for his HaaShrooms White Sauce recipe (goes great with Chicken of the Woods, he says).

4. Hollin Farms in Delaplane is the only farm in Virginia (that I found) that allows you to dig your own peanuts (call to verify hours). What do you do with raw peanuts? See this Pinterest board of recipes or this previous post that includes Hotel Roanoke’s peanut soup!

Of note is that Hollin Farms is located along the Fauquier County Wine Trail. Maybe you want to pair your dig with the pop of a cork or special pairing?

5. So I said four in the title, but I have to give you a fifth …

The season may have passed, but I have to include the capture-and-cook notion dreamed up by bon appétit: CICADAS. Yes, the plague that was hit-or-miss this spring in Virginia found its way into Richmond by way of three local chefs – Jason Alley of Comfort and Pasture, Will Wienckowski of Ipanema, and John Seymore of Lunch. and Supper! Cicadas were caught and the trio of chefs developed recipes like Charleston Cheese Grits and Blackened Cicadas with Grilled Onions and Peppers. In the end, everyone agreed that the little (big) buggers will not be added to the menus. Try them at home? Recipe.

As a foodie or outdoor adventurer, what would you like to do in Virginia? Do you have any thoughts on marrying the two? Comment below to let us know!

Food and Wine, Outdoors | 1 Comment

A.T. Hikers Find Warm Welcome in Virginia Communities

by Casey | Posted on June 25th, 2013

Hiking the Appalachian Trail is a bucket list item for many people, but it’s a long journey that tests stamina and perseverance. With a literal uphill challenge like the A.T., communities that embrace hikers are a welcome and much-needed resource. To recognize those communities that promote and protect the A.T., the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has established the Appalachian Trail Community™ designation program.

An Appalachian Trail Community™ promises to meet certain criteria, which may include hosting an annual Trail event or celebration, providing a Trail education or service-learning project, or incorporating language that will protect the Trail in land-use plans and ordinances, etc. Communities are asked why they should be selected and how the town embraces and supports the Trail. An opportunity to recognize hiker-friendly services is provided as well. With the knowledge that each community has been properly vetted by the Conservancy, hikers can rest assured they will be warmly received and the community serves as an active steward of the Trail.

Get to Know Each Virginia Appalachian Trail Community™

 Appalachian Trail Community logoFront Royal / Warren County

  • 30 miles of Trail runs through the county.
  • Front Royal is three miles west of the Trail crossing at Route 522.
  • Free showers available at the 4-H Center.
  • Free internet at Samuels Public Library and Daily Grind.
  • Limited hiking supplies at The Apple House and Stokes General Store.
  • Various hotels, a B&B, laundromat and Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr. State Park offer additional lodging and service.

Harrisonburg / Rockingham County

  • 18 miles west of the Trail.
  • Hailed as a top spot for families to “beat nature deficit disorder” by Backpacker Magazine.
  • Hikers are invited to participate in the Valley Fourth parade each year.

Waynesboro / Augusta County

  • Two miles west of the Trail.
  • Grocery, library and post office are easily accessible from the Trail.
  • Shower and overnight camping at the YMCA.
  • Free internet at the Waynesboro Area Learning Tree.
  • Rockfish Gap Visitors Center offers maps and local information.
  • Community volunteers available to shuttle hikers around town.
  • The Waynesboro Circulator (bus service) welcomes A.T. hikers for 50 cents each way.
  • Download “Out and About in Waynesboro,” a guide created specifically for A.T. visitors.

Nelson County

  • 40 miles of the Trail follow the Blue Ridge Parkway through Nelson County.
  • Access Nelson County from three points – Afton (BRP MP 0), Reeds Gap (BRP MP 13.5) and Route 56 (BRP MP 27.5)
  • Post office access at Montebello.
  • Supplies and groceries available at Montebello Country Store.
  • Laundry service at Dutch Haus Bed and Breakfast in Montebello (plus the owners are Trail Angels [community volunteers])
  • Three craft breweries are a good side trip between Afton and Reeds Gap.

Buena Vista / Rockbridge County

  • Nine miles west of the Trail crossing at Route 60.
  • Trail Angels available for shuttling to/from the Trail.
  • Find a hiker’s box in the lobby of the post office where community members leave bags of food, free for your taking.
  • Free showers and heavily discounted rates available at Glen Maury Park.
  • Computer access at Maury River Senior Center.
  • Mountain Day, the second Saturday of each October, celebrates the mountain heritage of the area, including the Trail.

Glasgow / Rockbridge County

  • Hiker’s shelter was built in 2010 by a local Eagle Scout.
    • A fire pit, wood, hot shower and port-a-johns are free to hikers.
    • New in 2013: electrical receptacles for cell phone charging, etc.
  • Bathroom and concessions available at Knick Field spring through fall.
  • Laundromat near the hiker shelter.
  • Free computer usage, book exchange and cheap books available at the library.

Troutville / Botetourt County

  • Free showers and laundry at the Troutville Fire Department.
  • Free camping and large restroom facilities available at Town Park.
  • Troutville Trail Days is a major annual event held the second Friday and Saturday of June.
  • Post office nearby.
  • Good midway point for hikers with major thoroughfares like Interstate 81, Route 11 and Route 220.
Woods Hole Hostel

Woods Hole Hostel

Pearisburg / Giles County

  • More than 50 miles of A.T. runs through Giles County.
  • Two hiker hostels available – Woods Hole Hostel and Holy Family Hostel.
  • Download the Local Hikers Guide for a list of hiker-friendly services, food and lodging.

Bland County

  • 56 miles of the Trail winds through the county.
  • Trail Angels available for shuttling hikers to/from the Trail.
  • Two major annual festivals incorporate the importance of the Trail to the community: Festival of Trails and Festival of Leaves.

Damascus / Washington County

  • Widely known as “Trail Town USA,” the A.T. courses right through downtown Damascus.
  • Trail Days is a major annual event that celebrates the A.T., as well as the Virginia Creeper Trail, Trans-America National Bicycle Trail and several others, with workshops, gear vendors, entertainment and more.
  • A kiosk is located in Town Park to direct hikers to services. Download the printable version.

Abingdon / Washington County

  • 12 miles west of the Trail.
  • Take the Virginia Creeper Trail – #1 rated Rail Trail (Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine) – into Abingdon.
  • Shuttle services provided by local outfitters.

Explore and enjoy Virginia’s portion of the Appalachian Trail soon!

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*Updated 6/27/13 to include Nelson County, the newest A.T. Community. -ch

Outdoors | 1 Comment