A few of weeks ago, I discussed the hike on House Mountain on the outskirts of Lexington, Virginia. There are so many things to do in the area that you should consider coming back here time and again:
AN EASIER WALK
The seven-mile Chessie Nature Trail connects Lexington with Buena Vista. Following a railroad grade along the Maury River, it passes old locks, steep cliffs, woodlands, and pastures. The Field Guide to the Chessie Nature Trail, available in local bookstores, can turn this easy walk into a family project to learn about the history, geology, plants, and animals found along the way.
The Maury River in Goshen Pass is popular with canoeists and kayakers who enjoy the Class II-IV rapids in late spring; the water level drops later in summer and families float lazily down the river on inner tubes. Two River Outfitter (540-261-7334) rents equipment and provides shuttles.
FALL MOUNTAIN BIKING
Those with good technical skills can make a 12-mile circuit starting from the Longdale Recreation Area off US 60. Ascending Forest Service Road 108 takes riders by views into the Cowpasture River Valley. The trip gets interesting as it negotiates White Rock Tower Trail on steep and rocky tread past occasional vistas. A left turn onto Forest Service Road 333 returns you to the starting point.
Only an hour’s drive from House Mountain, The Homestead (540-839-1766) may be an upscale retreat, yet costs of lift tickets to its nine ski trails are among the state’s lowest. In addition, the resort’s 15,000 acres present opportunity for cross-country skiing, and snow tubing is available for easy family fun.
A SPRING DRIVE
In springtime, when mountainside vegetation is that new, neon-green type of color and seasonal rains have swollen the Maury River, a drive along VA 39 north of Lexington may be the prettiest drive in all of Virginia. Beginning in open farmlands, the road climbs into Goshen Pass where vertical mountain walls close in and whitewater tumbles over huge boulders.
BEDS, VISTAS, AND LLAMAS
Spend a night before or after a hike in the passive solar, lodge-like Applewood Inn (800-463-1902), whose south-facing porches look onto surrounding woods, llama-grazed pastures, and distant ridgelines. You may explore the adjoining 900 acres alone, or by two-hour guided hikes accompanied by the inn’s llamas.