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With more than 100 categories, the eighth annual Best of the Blue Ridge Awards are bigger and better than ever. Thousands of readers cast their votes for their favorite people, places, events, food + drink, and businesses in the region. What’s this year’s weirdest event? Who is this year’s Adventurer of the Year? Find some of your favorites on this list and be inspired for your next adventure.

Destinations


Hiking Trail

Tinker Cliffs (Troutville, VA)

Once you make it up this leg of the Virginia Triple Crown, Tinker Cliffs offers a stunning view of the Roanoke Valley to the south. This moderately strenuous hike is around 7 miles round trip and climbs almost 2,000 feet in elevation.

Finalists

Jackrabbit (Hayesville, N.C.)

Long Point (Summersville, W. Va.)


A.T. Section

McAfee Knob (Catawba, Va.)

Visitors from around the world come to hike the famous McAfee Knob, one of the most photographed spots on the A.T. Sunrise, sunset, or middle of the day, leave plenty of time to soak up the scenery at the top.

Finalists

Max Patch (Hot Springs, N.C.)

Dragon’s Tooth (Catawba, Va.)


Spot Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Peaks of Otter (Va.)

In the middle of the Jefferson National Forest, this spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway is a gateway to adventure. Fish in Abbott Lake, hike one of the six trails in the area, or camp at the base of Sharp Top Mountain.

Finalists

Mount Mitchell (N.C.)

Linville Cove Viaduct (N.C.)


Waterfall

Blackwater Falls (Davis W. Va.)

With multiple viewing platforms, this five-story waterfall is easily accessible in every season. The “black” water, tinted by tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles, runs through an eight-mile gorge.

Finalists

Cascades (Pembroke, Va.)

Linville Falls (Linville, N.C.)


Swimming Hole

Paul’s Creek (Nellysford, Va.)

Slide down the natural waterslide into Paul’s Creek, the perfect way to cool off after a hike through the woods.

Finalists

Big Rock (Deep Creek, N.C.)

Midnight Hole (Smokies, N.C.)


Paddling River

New River (W. Va.)

One of the oldest rivers in the world, the New River flows north into West Virginia from North Carolina. This river has something for every paddler, from smooth flatwater to class V rapids in the spring.

Finalists

Gauley River (Summersville, W. Va.)

Green River (N.C.)


SUP Spot

Summersville Lake (Summersville, W. Va.)

At 28,000 acres, with more than 60 miles of undeveloped shoreline, Summersville Lake is the perfect secluded spot to get your SUP on.

Finalists

Pembroke Pond on New River (Pembroke, Va.)

Finger Lake (Fontana Lake, N.C.)


Flat Water

Summersville Lake (Summersville, W. Va.)

The towering sandstone cliffs create the perfect backdrop for the largest lake in West Virginia. It is also the site of the PsicoRoc deep-water solo competition, the only time this type of climbing is technically legal at the lake.

Finalists

Carvins Cove (Roanoke, Va.)

Fontana Lake (Bryson City, N.C.)


Fishing Spot

New River (Fayetteville, W. Va.)

Head out to the New River in the spring or fall for the best opportunity to catch bass, walleye, muskellunge, crappie, bluegill, carp, and catfish.

Finalists

South River (Waynesboro, Va.)

Tuckasegee River (Bryson City, N.C.)


Climbing Crag

Seneca Rocks (W. Va.)

With more than 350 mapped climbing routes, climbers of all abilities are welcome to test their multi-pitch climbing and trad skills at Seneca Rocks. It’s impossible to miss the towering crags as you drive in
to the Monongahela National Forest.

Finalists

New River Gorge (W. Va.)

Rumbling Bald (N.C.)


Running Trail 

Greenbrier River Trail (W. Va.)

Cross over 35 bridges, under two tunnels, and through several West Virginian towns on this 78-mile former railroad trail. Disconnect from the world on this secluded trail, including a section within a National Radio Quiet Zone where cell phones do not work.

Finalists

Mountains to Sea Trail (N.C.)

Jackrabbit Trail (N.C.)


Biking Trail

Mill Creek (Narrows, Va.)

At 145 acres, Mill Creek Nature Park offers a variety
of mountain bike trails for all skill levels. Trails extend into the Jefferson National Forest for further riding.

Finalists

Great Allegheny Passage (Penn. to Md.)

Tsali (Bryson City, N.C.)


Urban Park/Greenway

Roanoke River Greenway (Roanoke, Va.)

This paved pathway weaves through the heart of Roanoke, passing through busy shopping districts and residential areas. The trail will be 25 miles long when finished, connecting the towns of Roanoke and Salem.

Finalists

James River Park (Richmond, Va.)

Falls Park (Greenville, S.C.)


Ski Run

Cupp Run (Snowshoe Mountain Resort, W. Va.)

Designed by the prolific skier Jean-Claude Killy, Cupp Run features one of the longest vertical drops in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Take a stab at the annual Cupp Run Challenge in February, a tradition at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. 

Finalists

Shay’s Revenge (Snowshoe Mountain Resort, W.Va.)

Oz (Beech Mountain Resort, N.C.)


Terrain Park

Wintergreen (Va.)

Visit again and again as Wintergreen frequently changes the layout of the more than 40 features in its terrain park, from tabletops and fun boxes to rainbow rails and battleships.

Finalists

Snowshoe (W. Va.)

Beech Mountain (N.C.)


Campsite

Davidson River (Pisgah National Forest, N.C.)

Spend the night at one of the 144 campsites near the river for easy access to fishing, hiking, and swimming, with easy access to Brevard and Asheville.

Finalists

Kairos (Glen Lyn, Va.)

Rocky Gap State Park (Flintstone, Md.)


Wilderness Area

Dolly Sods Wilderness (W. Va.)

At one point, these 17,371 acres in the Monongahela National Forest were almost completely clear-cut, leading to soil erosion and frequent wildfires. As this unique ecosystem has rebounded thanks to its protected status, it now boasts life forms usually found in southern Canada and awe-inspiring views.

Finalists

Priest Wilderness (Va.)

Shining Rock Wilderness (N.C.)


National Park

Blue Ridge Parkway (N.C./Va.)

From the Great Smoky Mountains to Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers hundreds of miles of winding roads and mountain vistas.

Finalists

Shenandoah National Park (Va.)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (N.C./Tenn.)


State Park

Grayson Highlands (Va.)

Grayson Highlands State Park is home to Virginia’s highest peak and more than 100 wild ponies. The Appalachian Trail and Virginia Highlands Horse Trail are easily accessible from the moss-covered forests and mountain meadows.

Finalists

Blackwater Falls (W. Va.)

Natural Bridge State Resort Park (Ky.)


National Forest

Monongahela National Forest (W. Va.)

Established in 1920, this National Forest protects almost a million acres of mountainous landscape in eastern West Virginia, including Seneca Rocks, Spruce Knob, and the falls of Hills Creek.

Finalists

Jefferson National (Va.)

Pisgah National Forest  (N.C.)


Luxury Destination/Resort/Bed and Breakfast

Pilot Cove (Brevard, N.C.)

With 10 cabins that blend into the scenery, Pilot Cove is the perfect mix of luxury lodging with easy access to outdoor adventure on the border of Pisgah National Forest.

Finalists

Mountain Lake Lodge (Pembroke, Va.)

Primland (Meadows of Dan, Va.)


Kid-Friendly Adventure

Wintergreen (Va.)

This four-season resort has something for the whole family, from skiing and tubing in the winter to ziplining and archery in the warmer months.

Finalists

Ace Resort (W. Va.)

Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education (N.C.)


Pet-Friendly Adventure

Rivanna Trail (Charlottesville, Va.)

Walk or run with your furry loved one on this wilderness trail around the city of Charlottesville. The easy to moderate terrain is a great place to escape from the noise and enjoy the sounds of nature.

Finalists

Gatlinburg Trail (Gatlinburg, Tenn.)

Mill Creek Nature Park (Narrows, Va.)


Place to Play Hooky From Work

winding down after a day on the slopes at snowshoe mountain resort / Photo By chris mclennan

Snowshoe (Snowshoe, W. Va.)

Make the most out of a day “off” at this four season resort. Spend all day and into the night on the ski slopes or relax in the spa and reserve a backcountry adventure dining experience.

Finalists

Bent Creek (Asheville, N.C.)

Virginia’s Mountain Playground (Giles County, Va.)


Place to Engage in Illicit and Nefarious Activities

Not Telling

Finding your own secret spot is always more fun than co-opting someone else’s.

Finalists

Blue Ridge Parkway overlook after sunset

Any music festival in the Southeast


Place for Outdoor Singles to Live

Asheville, N.C.

As one of the go-to adventure towns on the East Coast, Asheville has exploded with places to eat, things to do, and resources for adventure. You’re bound to run into someone who shares similar interests in this town.

Finalists

Roanoke, Va.

Bryson City, N.C.


Place to Raise an Outdoor Family

Roanoke, Va.

Introduce your kids to the outdoors on one of Roanoke’s many greenways and river accesses before moving them up to more challenging adventures on the Appalachian Trail.

Finalists

Bryson City, N.C.

Johnson City, Tenn.


State in the Southeast/Mid-Atlantic for Outdoor Activities

Virginia

From the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, step into Virginia’s backyard for hiking, biking, paddling, climbing, and more. Take advantage of all four seasons, whether you’re on the A.T., Blue Ridge Parkway, or one of the many ski runs.

Finalists

North Carolina

West Virginia