With its sunny days and spectacular fall color, fall might be the prettiest time of year to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia.
Make the artsy town of Abingdon your home base for a weekend full of mountain adventure. You’ll find world-class recreation, stunning natural beauty, and a farm-to-table food scene bursting with fall flavors.
Peak fall color in Abingdon and the Blue Ridge Mountains varies year by year, depending on factors like temperature and yearly rainfall to date. Typical peak fall color for the Blue Ridge Mountains is mid-October, but higher elevations will see leaves change early, and valleys will be slightly delayed. The Virginia Department of Forestry provides weekly fall foliage reports, beginning in late September.
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34-mile hiking, biking and horseback riding trail. The fall season brings perfect temperatures and unbelievable scenery with an abundance of autumn color. Rent a bike or bring your own, take a shuttle to the highest point and coast downhill through Jefferson National Forest. Between Abingdon and Damascus, a short distance off the trail in Alvarado you will find Abingdon Vineyards, Washington County’s first Virginia Farm Winery. Hop off the trail to recharge your batteries with a wine tasting and lunch on the serene outdoor patio overlooking the South Holston River.
Stroll the tree-lined brick sidewalks of Abingdon’s historic downtown district; enjoy the vibrant foliage and scope out one of Abingdon’s 35 independently-owned restaurants. Abingdon’s culinary scene ranges from home-style southern comfort food to sophisticated fine dining. Look for the Rooted in Appalachia designation, indicating restaurants that source their ingredients from local farmers, guaranteeing dishes that are always fresh and in season.
Abingdon is home to Whitetop Mountain and Mount Rogers– the two highest mountain peaks in Virginia. Mount Rogers National Recreation Area offers great hiking, camping, picnicking and horse trails, and a chance to see wild ponies grazing on the high mountain balds.
For evening entertainment, head to Wolf Hills Brewing for live music, or take in a show at the historic Barter Theatre, founded in 1933 during the Great Depression, when actors bartered an evening’s entertainment for food from local farmers. The theatre now performs year-round in three venues on Main Street, offering Broadway-quality professional performances.
For help in planning a Southwest Virginia weekend getaway, click here.