Springtime in Abingdon,Virginia and surrounding Southwest Virginia is particularly flashy—fields and valleys are filled with scarlet and gold wild flowers, while towering oak and maple trees display soft green buds on their gnarly branches. If you crave small-town friendliness and adventures in the great outdoors, there’s no better time to explore this vibrant region. Here are 5 ways to enjoy a trip to Southwest Virginia this spring.
1. Bike the Virginia Creeper Trail!
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34-mile, rails-to-trails well maintained bicycle path that travels from the town of Abingdon to Whitetop Station, Virginia. You can rent bikes in Abingdon and take a shuttle to Whitetop Mountain. From there it’s mostly downhill for 17 miles as the trail crosses Whitetop Laurel Creek over historic trestles.
2. Scale the rocky heights of Backbone Rock Recreation Area
Backbone Rock Recreation Area is part of the Cherokee National Forest and straddles the border of Virginia and Tennessee. Backbone Rock features a 20-foot long hole that was blasted through it to make way for the railroad back in the early 1900s. Today there’s a road that passes through the black shale with a hand-chiseled archway. At its highest, Backbone Rock is more than 100 feet above ground. It’s sight to see, and while you’re there, try rappelling on the sheer cliffs or hike to Backbone Falls, an impressive 45-foot high cascade of water.
3. Enjoy Springtime Blooms
Spring time is a great time to see flowers in bloom. White and pink laurel and magenta rhododendron grow to enormous heights here. Look for the yellow lady slippers in the orchid family. Dwarf crested lilies stretch their stems sideways toward the sun. Honeysuckle blossoms fill the air with the smell of sweet candy. Along hiking paths look for Canada violets, fleabane from the daisy family, wild red geranium, and the showy dwarf crested iris. Flowering azalea bushes come in many colors, including crimson, purple, and ivory. The most graceful of trees, the flowering dogwoods, have white and pink flowers growing on their delicate branches. The combination is dizzying in its beauty.
4. Visit the Wild Ponies at Grayson Highlands State Park
If you visit Grayson Highlands State park during the spring you’re most likely to see foals taking their first steps while the mares look on protectively. Along this trail, you’ll take in some breathtaking views. Situated between the peaks of Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, this peaceful park is popular for backpacking, bouldering, and hiking. Other points of interest include a 200-year-old pioneer cabin and a waterfall.
5. Grab a Farm to Table Meal or Local Brew
If smokin’ barbecue, moist cornbread, and a tall glass of sweet tea define southern cooking for you, it’s time to expand your horizons. These traditional favorites remain top of the menu, but don’t stop there. From fine dining to local fare, Abingdon has a large variety to choose from. Local farmers, chefs, winemakers, and brewers are taking locally sourced products and regional traditions to new levels with stunning dishes and authentically Appalachian dining experiences to satisfy both your hunger and your sense of culinary adventure.