We love to give travel recommendations here at Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, but there are specific spots in the Blue Ridge that hold special places in our hearts. Our staff members share their go-to weekend getaways with ample opportunities for spending some much-needed time outside.
Leah Woody, Publisher: For years, my family has been going to Warm Springs, Va., for our mountain getaways and Chincoteague, Va., for our beach getaways. But we are always up for exploring new places and have recently had an awesome time camping at Twin Lakes State Park in Green Bay, Va., and Stokesville Lodge in Mount Solon, Va. We also love biking the Creeper Trail in southwest Virginia and hiking Shenandoah National Park.
Martha Evans, Senior Account Executive: There are too many to choose, but I’ll go with Lake Lure in North Carolina. It was rated one of the top 15 most beautiful man made lakes in the world by National Geographic. It’s warm because it’s in the isothermal belt with amazing mountain views, and Chimney Rock State Park is right there. There are also some great rivers in the area, like the Rocky Broad River, which is a nice spot for fishing and cooling off.
Blake DeMaso, President: Bath County, Va. It has everything—fishing, hiking, biking, boating. Plus a great brewery, several camping and lodging options, and killer restaurants.
Ellen Kanzinger, Travel Editor: I would have to go with the C&O Canal, especially once you get up into the mountains of Maryland. You’ll find yourself immersed in breathtaking scenery with wildlife encounters around every corner. I’d also recommend taking some time to discover places off the Appalachian Trail that don’t get as much publicity. You can find some truly incredible places if you’re willing to put the research in.
Craig Snodgrass, Web Director: I don’t know. I don’t go to many places.
Katie Hartwell, Associate Publisher: Snowshoe, W.Va., during any season. It’s always a great choice for a weekend getaway that includes adventure. You can ski and snowboard in the winter, and during the summer season you can explore the mountain bike park. You can also spend a day out on the lake paddle boarding, swimming, kayaking, and canoeing. There are plenty of hikes in the area, too, like the Shavers Lake and Bail-Out backcountry trails. As a side perk, the drive over the mountains to get to Snowshoe also doubles as an ab workout. Lean….lean…
Ann Douglas Lott, Intern: Cashiers, N.C., has been a family favorite for as long as I can remember. Hiking up Whiteside Mountain has an ideal effort to view ratio, and Fairfield Lake offers paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming during the summer. The Ugly Dog is our favorite dinner spot and has locations in both Cashiers and the nearby town of Highlands—another must-see town in the area. And because I’m always looking for the nearest coffee shop, Bucks Coffee is my favorite morning spot.
Shannon McGowan, Digital Content Coordinator: I have three go-to places for weekend getaways:
1. James River Park System: There are paddling options for all skill levels on the James. Plus, all my favorite mountain bike trails are in the area. I can take my mountain bike on challenging singletrack like the Buttermilk Trail. Don’t let the name fool you—the only thing buttery about this trail is the mud that forms from the falling tears of those who miss the creek crossings. Or I’ll cruise my gravel bike through Poop Loop. Don’t let the name fool you into thinking it’s fooling you and think this trail has nothing to do with poop. It does. This loop sometimes smells like poop from the treatment plant nearby, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying this beautiful trail! Plus, getting to yell “Poop loopty doop doop!!” as you cruise through is unbeatable fun.
2. Sugar Hollow to Blue Hole: This may be the most Charlottesville thing I’ve ever said, but it’s hard to beat a stunning drive on winding roads to a beautiful mountainous swimming hole, and you get to stop at a bunch of wineries on the way back to town!
3. Anywhere in West Virginia: Unhelpful? Maybe, but I’ve had so much fun this past year just pointing and shooting towards various areas to explore in beautiful West Virginia. Snowshoe is a really fun place to bike in the fall and ski in the winter, the Greenbriar Trail is excellent for bikepacking and camping, New River Gorge in Fayetteville is a must-see, Tucker County area has incredible waterfalls and cross-country skiing, and paddling Summersville Lake is a dream!
Sorry I’ve been rambling, what was the question again?
Lauren Worth, Creative Director: It’s hard to peel me away from the Outer Banks, but when I need an escape from the heat, I also love heading to the mountains of Bath County. There’s great hiking, lots of lodging options, and some excellent restaurants.
Melissa Gessler, Business Manager: One of my favorite adventures is early-morning paddle boarding on the reservoir with Lake Pelham Adventures in Culpeper, Va. It’s so peaceful and beautiful. You’ll spot lots of birds, turtles, and fish! Afterwards head to The Ole Country Store and Bakery for lunch and homemade ice cream.