Jeff Smith is the owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Sports in Charlottesville, Va. The venerable indie outfitter started as a small operation in 1972 and has since expanded to 12 stores across the region. When Smith can escape from his office, he takes advantage of Charlottesville’s easily accessible adventure outlets—a result of the small city’s prime location in the Virginia Blue Ridge foothills. Here are Smith’s favorite local adventures.
Old Rag in nearby Shenandoah National Park. The views are great. Be sure to go on a weekday, as it gets pretty crowded on the weekends. As an added bonus, there is a winery—Sharp Rock Vineyard—located about a mile away. I like to climb Old Rag, then go to the tasting room when I get off the trail.
Best Backcountry Camping Spot
Big Run in Shenandoah. This is the biggest watershed in the park. Go in April and take a fly rod.
Best local trail run
The Rivanna Trail from the corner of the parking lot at my office to Observatory Hill and back. I think it is the best section of the trail in town. It has more hills than any other section of the Rivanna.
Best Mountain Bike Ride
Observatory Hill on the campus of the University of Virginia. Again, convenience wins. I can leave from the parking lot at my office and ride out to O. Hill mostly on trails. It has lots of single track and enough variety to keep it interesting, but it is close enough to bust out a ride without spending 30 minutes in the car getting there.
Best Ski Run
I can get a black diamond fix on the Highlands at Wintergreen Resort. I skied the Vallee Blanche in Chamonix a couple of years ago. After a 17-kilometer backcountry descent, everything else seems short.
Best Paddle spot
For convenience, Chris Greene Lake is about five minutes from my house. I can be in the canoe in about 15 minutes. For scenery, floating the James River from Glasgow to Snowden.
Best Post-Trail Snack
Cheeseburger sub from Martin’s Grill with a big basket of fries.