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From hiking scenic trails and fishing for your next great catch to riding flowy singletrack and telling stories around the campfire after a long day, our Blue Ridge backyard is full of exciting outdoor adventures. Solo travelers, families, and everyone in between can find something to see and do. Whether it’s national and state lands or city green spaces, discover new ways to get outside with this guide to our region’s parks.
A World of Fun at Pipestem Adventures, W.Va.
What’s your favorite way to get outside? With a variety of thrilling activities all in one spot, Pipestem Adventures is sure to have something that fits your idea of fun. Located within the heart of Pipestem State Resort Park, it’s the perfect destination for thrill-seekers, families of all ages, and adventurers of every kind.
You can’t visit West Virginia without getting on one of the state’s beautiful waterways. Whether it’s floating the Bluestone National Scenic River snaking through the park, running class I-V rapids on the New River, or bouncing on the trampoline and inflatables at Adventure Lake, Pipestem can coordinate it all. The new Splash Park is a great spot for families with little ones who like to take to the slides and run through the dumping buckets.
If you’re more of a high flier, Pipestem Peaks Zipline Tour is the stop for you. Take in an aerial view of the park as you zip from tree to tree to the bottom of Bluestone Gorge. Along the way, you’ll reach speeds up to 50 miles an hour over 300 feet above the ground. For even more thrills, book a rock climbing and rappelling trip; guides and gear included.
Want to see more of the park? Explore the trails with motor-assisted e-bike rentals or a guided bike tour. These expert guides know all of the best spots to see, plus they can give you detailed insights into the area’s natural history and customize the experience depending on what you want.
And who could forget the Adventure Zone? Grab an all-inclusive pass for easy access to all the activities, from axe-throwing station and 3D archery to disc golf and miniature golf, or book each activity individually. Set your teams as you battle on the laser tag field or practice your shot on the skeet shooting course. Who knows what new skill you’ll learn.
With so many activities to try, you’ll want to hang out for more than a day. Luckily, the lodges, cabins, and campsites at the state park make it easy to spend a night with a short commute back to the fun in the morning. Discover a new side of yourself in the West Virginia wilderness of Pipestem Adventures.
41 Virginia State Parks to Explore
What kind of adventure are you in the mood for today? Maybe thrilling mountain biking across flowy singletrack? Or maybe hikes with soaring views of the mountainous landscape? Or maybe you want to get in one last paddling trip before the water gets too cold? You can find all of this, and more, at a Virginia State Park.
For one of Virginia’s most spectacular geological features, take a trip to Natural Tunnel State Park. Over thousands of years, water carved a tunnel out of the limestone ridge that measures 850 feet long and over ten stories tall. Today, visitors can walk the trails to view the natural formation from above or take the chairlift to the tunnel floor. The park’s two campgrounds are the perfect place to spend a night away from the crowds. If you prefer to stay in a structure with more permanent walls, book one of the 14 cabins with mountain views or enjoy a picnic on the porch of your yurt.
Between the three miles of shoreline and 22 miles of multi-purpose trails, James River State Park provides an idyllic waterside getaway. Launch your boat onto the James River for excellent smallmouth bass fishing, plus catfish and panfish galore. A variety of lodging options, including primitive tent campsites, cabins, and lodges, make it easy for you to travel alone or bring all of your friends and family with you.
Pocahontas State Park is known for its mountain biking opportunities with over 44 miles of singletrack, machine-built flow, and hand-cycle-friendly trails. An additional 33 miles of multi-use trails make it easy to spend day after day exploring every corner of the park. Rent one of the onsite cabins, yurts, or campsites so you can get going first thing in the morning.
Grab your paddle and head out to Bear Creek Lake State Park. The 40-acre lake is the perfect spot to spend a day puttering around on the water or swimming from the beach. From the park, you can access an additional 16,000 acres of forested land in Cumberland State Forest, including a 14-mile multi-use trail.
That’s only a small piece of what Virginia State Parks have to offer visitors of all ages and abilities. Many parks, including Occoneechee and Belle Isle, feature overnight facilities that make for a convenient base camp. What will you discover on a Virginia State Park adventure?
Discover Green Spaces and Wild Waters in Harford County, Md.
Amongst 89 county parks and four state parks, there is a piece of nature for everyone in Harford County, Md. Explore wooded, waterfront, and sensory trails through the area’s parks, nature centers, and gardens.
Outdoor adventure awaits in Rocks State Park, featuring 855 acres of rocky forest land nestled in rural northern Harford County. Keep an eye out for the King and Queen Seat, a spectacular 190-foot-high rock outcrop overlooking Deer Creek. The main section of the park includes three picnic areas, 3.5 miles of hiking trails, and access to the creek for fishing, wading, and tubing. The Falling Branch area of the park, which is located about five miles north of the main park, is home to Maryland’s second-highest vertical drop waterfall, Kilgore Falls. This non-developed, environmentally sensitive area has a serene half-mile hiking trail leading from the parking lot back to the waterfall.
In addition to fishing, boating, and fifteen miles of trails for hiking and equestrian use, Susquehanna State Park is home to some of the most popular mountain biking trails in Maryland. History buffs will be drawn to the restored Rock Run Historic Area with its working gristmill, Carter-Archer Mansion, Jersey Toll House, and the remains of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal. You don’t have to go far at the end of the day when you spend the night at one of the park’s family-friendly campsites or cabins.
Encompassing 18,000 scenic acres in the Gunpowder River Valley, Gunpowder Falls State Park features over 100 miles of trails, trout streams, and the historic village of Jerusalem and 18th-century grist mill company town. Enjoy a day spent riding the multi-use rail trail, swimming at the beach, and picnicking by the water. Book a guided trip with a local outfitter for flat water and moving water kayaking, canoeing, fly-fishing, catamaran sailing, windsurfing, and natural history walks.
You can find even more fun fishing Deer Creek at Palmer State Park, enjoying hiking trails and environmental programs at Eden Mill Park Nature Center and Historic Gristmill, or spending an afternoon by the Susquehanna River at Tydings Park and Promenade. Fill out your visit when you spend some time visiting the area’s farms, family-friendly museums, charming shops, and eclectic dining options. Discover what makes Harford County, Md., a playground for the whole family.
The Jewel of Dawsonville, Ga.
Cool Georgian rivers, tumbling waterfalls, challenging trails—Dawsonville really has it all. Located between Chattahoochee National Forest and Lake Lanier, you’ll find no better destination for a getaway suited for every kind of adventurer. An hour outside of Atlanta, it’s the perfect place to unwind away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
No visit to Georgia is complete without a stop at Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge. The main attraction at the park is the 729-foot Amicalola Falls, the tallest cascading waterfall in the state and the third tallest east of the Mississippi. It’s not hard to see why it’s referred to as one of the seven natural wonders of Georgia. At the base of the falls, cast a line in the stocked fishing pond. Other highlights include the southernmost terminus of the Appalachian Trail, the spot where thru hikers can begin their journey by taking the eight-mile Approach Trail to Springer Mountain. Day hikers have plenty of other options with ten hiking trails in the 829-acre park.
Take in even more of the mountains on a thrilling aerial adventure with Screaming Eagle Aerial Adventure Zipline Tour, located right inside the park. A variety of experiences make it easy for beginner and intermediate thrillsters to have a good time. Or head right to the longest zipline for the ultimate thrill, featuring a 2,000-foot line and heights reaching up to 250 feet.
At the end of the day, enjoy a comfortable stay at the Amicalola Falls Lodge where you can eat at Cascades, an onsite restaurant, and take in panoramic views overlooking the mountains. The park also offers an additional 24 wooded campsites and RV sites or a luxurious stay in a fully-furnished safari tent at Timberline Glamping.
From the park, you might choose to spend the night in a place that’s not just a lodge–but an experience. Only accessible by a five-mile trail from the top of Amicalola Falls, the Len Foote Hike Inn is Georgia’s only backcountry lodge. You can travel light: bring a change of clothes and toiletry items, and the inn will provide you with everything else you may need. Bond with other hikers during the two family-style meals served every day in the dining hall. During your stay, you will have easy access to all the Chattahoochee National Forest has to offer. There are nearly 450 miles of hiking trails within the 750,000-acre forest, which means there is no limit to exploring.
Take advantage of Dawsonville’s easy access to Lake Lanier, which covers 38,000 acres and contains 690 miles of shoreline. You won’t get bored out on the lake with countless options for camping, fishing, swimming, and boating. While you’re on the water, visit some of the 160 islands around the lake.
Head into downtown Dawsonville for a stop at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and Museum to learn about Dawsonville’s role as the “Birthplace of Stock Car Racing.” Then satisfy your cravings at the unofficial auto racing headquarters, the Dawsonville Pool Room, known for sounding the “SI-REEN” for every Elliott victory since 1983. Or take a drive along Hospitality Highway 400 to the Blue Bicycle, a chef-owned bistro beloved by locals, and shop 140 outlet shops at the North Georgia Premium Outlets.
For unique access to some of Georgia’s best parks and most thrilling adventures, look no further than a visit to the mountains of Dawsonville.
Parks for All in Berkeley County, W.Va.
Amidst the mountains and rivers of Berkeley County, discover wild West Virginia around every corner of these pristine parks. Tie your laces, pack your mountain bike or fishing rod, and head out on an adventure. Who knows what you’ll come across as you explore a new place.
Encompassing 28,000 acres, there is plenty of room to spread out and explore all of the nooks and crannies in the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area. Spend your days hiking miles of trail, overcoming obstacles on your mountain bike, fishing the scenic lake, and searching the woods for hidden geocache stores. The mighty Tuscarora Trail, a 250-mile spur off the Appalachian Trail, runs through the area. This rocky and rugged terrain provides a hike away from the crowds. For soaring views of the surrounding mountains, take the Beacon Trail to Pee Wee Point.
For the best chance at spotting local wildlife, head to Stauffer’s Marsh Preserve. Among the shallow ponds, marshy areas, and woodlands you’ll find over 150 species of birds, especially migrating and nesting waterfowl. Two trails loop around the property, along Back Creek, and past the meadow for a peaceful walk. Yankauer Nature Preserve is the place to view the local flora, including 105 species of plants that have been identified. Walk the trail out to the limestone bluffs overlooking the Potomac River for a quiet moment against a beautiful backdrop.
Still haven’t gotten your fill? Check out one of the county’s 18 public parks for even more fun in the sun. Poor House Farm Park offers a little something for everyone. Play 27 holes of disc golf or fish at Rickard Lake for bass, trout, and others. Beginner to advanced mountain bikers will love the winding singletrack looping through the forest.
Find a spot in the shade to relax at War Memorial Park where you can wade into Tuscarora Creek as you fish for trout or play a round on the miniature golf course. Keep an eye on the calendar for the summer concert series featuring live music and good times. Between the dog park and children’s garden, Ambrose Park is the perfect spot to visit with the whole family.
Conveniently located within a day’s drive to major East Coast cities, you don’t have to travel far to enjoy the peaceful parks of Berkeley County, W.Va.
Visit Rockingham County, Va., for Miles of Trails
From mountain ridge tops to underground caverns, the parks of Rockingham County provide access to a variety of Virginia adventures. With over 177,000 acres designated as national park or national forest land, there is plenty to keep you coming back year after year.
Follow Skyline Drive to one of the spectacular overlook or waterfall hikes in Shenandoah National Park. Dozens of trailheads, including access to over 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and three campgrounds make this a must-see Virginia destination. A short hike to Blackrock Summit or Hightop Summit offers stunning views from a rocky outcrop, and both are excellent options for a dreamy sunset hike. Nearby, First Mountain State Forest is an excellent spot for anglers looking to spend hours on the water. The upper reaches of Boone Run are a must-visit, classified as a Class II wild trout stream.
Head deep into George Washington National Forest for more remote but no less scenic trails. Whether you prefer fishing the cool mountain streams, mountain biking miles of rocky and rooty terrain, or camping in a secluded spot, you can’t go wrong exploring this massive swath of scenic beauty. High Knob Fire Tower is a popular destination on the border with West Virginia. After a 40-minute hike, climb the tower built from rocks for sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Visit one of the area’s urban parks before exploring the options for a bite to eat and a taste of the local spirits. Walk the pollinator trail around Lake Shenandoah for a glimpse of native wildflowers, grasses, and a variety of wildlife species, or stroll the loop along North River at Wildwood Park in Bridgewater. Check out the pours on tap at Cave Hill Farms Brewery, Elkton Brewing Co., or BrewHaHa Brewing after a day of exploration.
Fill out your itinerary with a hike along Massanutten Ridge Trail to a panoramic view of Massanutten Resort’s ski slopes or a nature walk amongst the Elk Run Trails, an 18-mile wooded trail perfect for a peaceful jaunt. You might even find yourself kayaking, canoeing, or tubing the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River on a morning run or all-day adventure. If you’re looking to escape that warm summer sun or unpredictable afternoon showers, head underground at Endless Caverns, Melrose Caverns, or Grand Caverns for a tour of the area’s rich geological history.
Create Treasured Memories in Franklin County, Va.
Embedded in the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills, outdoor adventure waits for you around every turn in Franklin County, Va. If you’re looking for a day out on the water, the area’s rivers and lakes provide an abundance of spots to swim, kayak, or fish. Bordering the Blue Ridge Parkway to the west, it’s easy to go for a scenic drive or bike ride on the winding road. If there’s one thing that’s for sure, you won’t want to miss all that Franklin County has to offer.
Enjoy a relaxing day at Smith Mountain Lake Community Park, where you can access Virginia’s second-largest freshwater lake and over 500 miles of shoreline. Located directly across the water from Smith Mountain Lake State Park, there are a variety of activities you can choose from at this scenic park. Build a sandcastle at the public beach, go for a swim in the protected swimming lane, or cast a line from the fishing pier. Plus, with easy access to lodging and dining options around the lake, it’ll be hard to pull the family away from this spot.
The campground at Jamison Mill Park on Philpott Lake is the perfect place to set up camp before you head out on the water. As the smallest campground on the lake, featuring only 11 sites, this is a quiet spot to enjoy the natural beauty all around you. Each site comes with a picnic table and grill, as well as access to drinking water and a bathhouse. From the park, launch your non-motorized boat as you paddle out to Picnic Point or Beards Creek Inlet. You can even listen to live music without ever having to leave the water with the annual summer Concerts by Canoe series. Held at the Twin Ridge Recreation Area, paddle up for some pickin’ and grinnin’ as local and regional Appalachian musicians brave the floating stage
If you prefer to explore by land, check out the 15 miles of multi-use trails and over 10,000 feet of play in the new disc golf course at Waid Park. Make sure to warm up on the popular bike skills loops before hitting the flowy singletrack. Mountain bikers are sure to enjoy features such as a jump line, river crossings, and wooden ramps. The state-of-the-art disc golf course features a nine-hole beginner course and an 18-hole pro course, so you can perfect your skills and challenge your game all from one convenient spot. On the weekends, rent a tube to float down the Pigg River through the park, including the ability to customize the length of your trip.
In addition to all of its outdoor offerings, Franklin County is also the eastern gateway to the Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. This 330-mile route connects music venues, concerts, jam sessions, and music history sites through 19 southwestern Virginia counties. If you’re a music fan, see if there’s a show playing during your visit at the Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount or Coves Amphitheater on Smith Mountain Lake.
After spending a day outdoors, head into the charming small town of Rocky Mount, Franklin’s county seat, for a bite to eat. Fill up at Buddy’s BBQ, one of the tastiest spots in the area, before visiting the award-winning Chaos Mountain Brewing or the newly opened Living Proof Beer Company to grab a drink in the “Moonshine Capital of the World.”
When it comes time to plan your next trip, look no further than the mountains, waters, and parks of Franklin County, Va. It’s a trip you’ll be thinking back on for years to come.
A Trail Runs Through Galax, Va.
In the heart of Galax, Va., the southern terminus of New River Trail State Park begins its winding journey along Chestnut Creek before its confluence with the New River. No matter your style of play, this state park offers something for every kind of adventurer.
The 57-mile rail trail with its gentle slope is perfect for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Experience a section of the trail or a multi-day excursion as you travel along the river, over bridges, and through towns. Thrill-seekers will love the trail network just off the main path at the Hoover Mountain Biking Area. Five loops, all rated easy to moderate, provide hours of fun.
You can also start your journey at Fries River Park, a great place for picnicking by the water. You might even grab an ice cream cone from the bright red caboose if it’s a hot day. A little more than halfway through your trip, the Foster Falls area is another great place to stop. Here, the park offers canoe and bike rentals, boat launches, a gift shop, and access to the historic town of Foster Falls.
If you’re planning to bike, stop by New River Trail Outfitters for all of your gear rental needs while on the trail. Their shuttle system makes it easy for you to get back to your car at the end of your trip. If you prefer to be on the water, New River Outdoor Adventures can outfit you with all the equipment you’ll need for the New River. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing float or an all-day paddle, you can rent kayaks, canoes, or tubes for your outing. Pack your rod and reel to do a little fishing along the way or jump in the water to cool off.
There are several convenient spots to spend a night or two during your visit. The park has three primitive campgrounds—Cliffview, Millrace, and Double Shoals—along the trail, making it easy to set up your tent after a long day on the go. Each site provides a fire ring, picnic table, non-flush toilet, and potable water. For a cozy getaway, New River Trail Cabins features 12 comfy stays with direct access to the trail.
It’s time to pack your bags and head out on a new adventure. Make Galax, Va., your starting point for your New River Trail adventure.
Peaceful Parks in Halifax County, Va.
Amongst the rolling hills of the Virginia countryside, Halifax County offers a relaxing getaway for hikers, paddlers, anglers, and history buffs alike.
Immerse yourself fully in nature when you visit Staunton River State Park, one of Virginia’s original state parks and the state’s first International Dark Sky Park. Whether you’re exploring the 17 miles of multi-use trails, fishing the Southern Virginia Wild Blueway, or renting a telescope to view the stars, there’s always something to discover in this natural oasis. Fall asleep in your cabin or tent for the night.
Learn about the area’s Civil War and Native American history at Staunton River Battlefield State Park. A variety of exhibits, a 1.2-mile self-guided trail, and two wildlife observation towers make it easy to spend an enjoyable afternoon taking in the wetlands and deepening your understanding of history and nature.
Located on a former dairy farm, Edmunds Park now provides plenty of space to hang out with friends or family. Play a round on one of the state’s top disc golf courses, fish the pond, or stroll through the botanical gardens. There’s always a new side of Halifax County to discover when you visit southern Virginia.
Find Yourself in Patrick County, Va.
The great outdoors are in full abundance in Patrick County, Va. Whatever your speed, there’s a park for you.
Fairy Stone State Park is the second-largest in Virginia. Seek out adventure on its many hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. Bring your equestrian friend along for the trip with the park’s handy stable-side camping spots. Get on the water and cast a line in Fairystone Lake or adjoining Philpott Lake. Try your luck at finding legendary fairy stones. Join in on a guided hike or workshop led by knowledgeable park rangers. At the end of the day, rest your head at a camping spot, cozy cabin, or yurt.
Patrick County is full of other wonderful parks to explore if you’re looking to venture out. Head up the mountain for a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, where you’ll find breathtaking scenic views, historical spots, and hiking trails such as the Rock Castle Gorge National Recreation Trail. Pack a picnic for Fred Clifton Park, a quiet oasis littered with stunning overlooks of the mountains and valleys below. Bring your mountain bikes to I.C. Dehart Park and ride miles of cross-country trails. Find it all in Patrick County.