Get lost in the mountains and waters of the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia.
Grab your kayak or paddleboard and float the many lakes, rivers and streams that make up the Alleghany Highlands Blueway. Explore the Jackson River and its many streams as it flows through the two downtowns – Covington & Clifton Forge and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. Follow the river on foot or bike as the Jackson River Scenic Trail runs for over 14 miles along its banks. Paddle the Cowpasture River,with a few smaller rapids, before it turns into the headwaters of the James River.
Visit Douthat Lakeat one of Virginia’s oldest parks, Douthat State Park. Swim, boat, or fish on the 50-acre lake. Or explore more than 40 miles of top-notch biking and hiking trails, offering breathtaking views of the mountains. At the other end of the Alleghany Highlands, you will find even more outdoor opportunities at Lake Moomaw. Located at the base of the Gathright Dam, the 2,530- acre man-made lake is perfect for boating all year. Camp in the national forest and sleep among the stars on Lake Moomaw’ s 43 miles of undeveloped shoreline.
If fishing is your forte, Escatawba Farms offers excellent trout fishing opportunities on miles of uncrowded waters. In addition, the Jackson River also offers a great trout fishing experience with its naturally colder temperatures. Lake Moomaw is famous for its bass fishing and regularly hosts numerous bass fishing tournaments throughout the year.
Head to Alleghany Outdoors, located beside the Jackson River and Scenic Trail, for all of your paddling & biking needs while in town. They provide kayaks, rafts, tubes, and mountain bikes for a variety of adventures. They also operate a shuttle service, so you do not have to worry about getting back.
The Eastern National Children’s Forest is the perfect place to get your young one outside and exploring the natural world around them with easy hikes and towering trees. Of course, a trip to the Alleghany Highlands would not be complete without a visit to Falling Spring Falls. View the 80-foot cascading waterfall from the overlook on Route 220. While you are in your car, head over to Humpback Bridge. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the only covered humpback bridge remaining in the United States. Picnic beside the bridge as you listen to the sound of the stream flowing past and take a photo with friends & family at the unique Love sign in front of the bridge.
Take an off-road adventure on some of the Alleghany Highlands numerous mountain trails in your dual sport motorcycle or 4 wheel drive capable vehicle; as always – beautiful views are plentiful. Enjoy a scenic drive through the countryside of the region where you will encounter abundant wildlife, amazing overlooks, historic sites and much more. Finish your day off with a stay in a unique Airbnb or cabin on one of the regions rivers or lakes, the Jackson River Scenic Trail, Douthat State Park or in the heart of the bustling downtowns.
All of this, and more, is what makes this part of Virginia, Uniquely Alleghany.
Cover photo by Darren Seay