Five Hidden Outdoor Gems of Virginia

by Casey Higgins | Posted: Jun 11, 2013 | Updated: May 26, 2015

Comments: 13 Comments

Sometimes we need to get away to a place that’s kind of magical. If I were you, I’d go to one of these places on a weekday to have a better chance at solitude.

Below are five hidden outdoor gems of Virginia, not that there are only five, but because five seemed like a good number to get your imagination going. Chime in through the comments below to share your favorite hidden gem (that is, if you don’t mind sharing it!).

1. White Rock Falls should be roaring right along after the amount of rain the Blue Ridge Mountains have experienced in the past week. To get there, take the Blue Ridge Parkway to park at MP 18.5 and look for the White Falls trail marker. Blazed yellow, the trail descends to run alongside White Rock Creek, then crosses it after about 1.4 miles. If it’s a hot day, dip your feet in here! To continue on, carefully rock-hop the creek and continue on the steep switchbacks that run along the 35-foot falls. From here, you can turn back or continue up the trail. If you continue, you’ll cross the Parkway to Slacks Overlook, watching for the blue-blazed Slacks Overlook Trail. Careful, this trail is shared with mountain bikers. Be sure to turn right at White Rock Gap Trail to get back to your vehicle. Turning left will lead you to Sherando Lake Campground.

The Channels Natural Area Preserve

The Channels Natural Area Preserve

2. The Channels Natural Area Preserve in Saltville is home to the Great Channels of Virginia, impressive formations of sandstone outcroppings. They’re large enough to play a glorious game of hide-and-seek, if you’re willing to make the trek along the 5.5-mile Channels Trail to get to them. Download the Map

3. Deer Island Park is located in Philpott Lake in Franklin County. It’s only accessible by boat and you’re welcome to pitch a tent on the island for an overnight stay (first come, first served). A permit is required for camping; no more than six people and two tents per site. Download the Brochure

Devils Bathtub

Devil’s Bathtub

4. The Devil’s Bathtub sounds ominous, doesn’t it? It’s located in Scott County and considered difficult to get to via the 7.2-mile  Devil’s Fork Loop Trail. Plan to get your feet wet as you criss-cross the water and scramble over boulders. The Devil’s Bathtub is a naturally smooth swimming hole, complete with a water slide rock. See the Map

5. False Cape is a treasure of a Virginia State Park and only accessible by foot, bicycle, beach transporter, tram or boat. Why? It’s one of the few remaining undeveloped areas along the Atlantic and boasts an incredible migratory bird population and variety of wildlife. The park is bordered by Back Bay, Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, the Atlantic Ocean and North Carolina. Campers must hike, bike or boat their supplies in as the transporter and tram are not available to those guests. The pay-off is huge if you’re into complete solitude and six miles of private, pristine beach. Download the Brochure

So where’s your hidden gem? Explore and LOVE Virginia.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


ric says:

There is a beautiful swimming hole on the north or south Anna river near Doswell off of rt 1 that should be shared by all, and open to the public. Recently I found out it was “Owned” by a company. It’s newest purpose is NOT family friendly!

Julie @ FuninFairfaxVA says:

Riverbend Park, a mile upstream from Great Falls is especially beautiful in Spring when the Virginia bluebells are blooming. Huntley Meadows Park, in Hybla Valley (only 15 miles southwest of DC), has a half-mile boardwalk (ADA compliant) over an incredibly diverse wetland plus woodland trails and a great visitor center. Both are ideal destinations for kids.

Dawn S. says:

Grandview Nature Preserve in Hampton, VA — a beautiful beach in Hampton unlike any other Hampton Roads beachfront. It’s tucked behind a neighborhood and there is only onsite parking. Hike a mile or more along a gravel/grass road until you hit sand. The beach is rocky so you’ll need water shoes, and the waves are more ocean-like than bay-like. Behind the sand sits a 500 acre tidal marsh, home to a diversity of birds and wildlife. The site used to be home to the Back River Lighthouse, the ruins of which are visible from the beach. Every time I’ve been I’ve had this beach nearly to myself. Quite an underappreciated gem.

Duane says:

I found a nice hike and falls. On the blue ridge parkway Park at dripping rock pull off.go east from Dripping rock . you will cross over Appalachian Trail. Keep going east. You will hear water if theres been lots of precipitation. Youll come to a paved road that is i believe the outskirts of wintergreen. Go down hill. A trail leads to Shamokin Falls.

Doug says:

Natural Bridge is cool!

Shana says:

Is it kid friendly?

Casey Higgins says:

Shana, I would think it depends on the kid and his or her interest and ability. Of them all, I think Devils Bathtub would be the only one I’d try with my children in tow.

john galt says:

1st graders field trip to the natural bridge so yea, kid friendly.

Faith says:

Natural Tunnel state park!!

Elizabeth says:

GREAT FALLS IS GORGEOUS…it is in both Md and Va!