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Smith Mountain Lake, Va.

On the southern shore of Smith Mountain Lake, intertwined by idyllic rivers, and country roads is Franklin County, Va. The relatively secluded area boasts active paddling and cycling scenes among the bounty of Blue Ridge beauty. “We’re known here for the hook and bullet culture,” says Dave Wiseman of the Franklin County Freewheelers. “But we have really well-organized groups for kayaking and biking.”

– Paddling Freaks –
Franklin County has a big local paddling crew: The Creek Freak Paddlers. The group’s hundred-plus members predominantly paddle on the laid-back, beginner-friendly Blackwater and Pigg Rivers. On the Pigg River try the eight-mile stretch from Waid Park to Vernon Lee Lynch II Riverside Memorial Park. You can paddle the Blackwater 34 miles from Brubaker Park to Smith Mountain Lake.

Every May the Pigg River Ramble is a full-weekend paddling festival with races and nighttime floats.

– Land of Lakes –
Smith Mountain Lake
is the popular resort destination, which features 500 miles of shoreline, but the more rugged and remote Philpott Lake is also in Franklin County.

– Preserved Path –
Grassy Hill Natural Preserve
is a popular local hiking spot with a seven-mile loop that’s owned by the Nature Conservancy, who purchased the property to save endangered plant species.

– Best Road Ride –
The Franklin Freewheelers ride every Thursday night along the area’s hilly country roads. A popular 36-mile loop route starts in Callaway, picks up the Blue Ridge Parkway, and returns via descent of Five-Mile Mountain.

– Fat tire options –
Mountain bikers ride the mix of singletrack and doubletrack at Waid Park.

– Post-Ride Grub –
You’ll find cyclists hanging out post-ride at El Rodeo Mexican restaurant in Rocky Mount.

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