Unforgettable Adventure Road Trips: Fall Foliage in Southwest Virginia

As the leaves begin their annual change of color and the days grow shorter, there are still plenty of opportunities to experience the outdoors.

Hiking Virginia State Parks is a great way to experience fall in Virginia. More than 160 miles of the system’s 626 miles of trails are reserved for hiking. Hiking is also allowed on more than 397 miles of the multi-use trails.

Here are a few places to enjoy the colors of fall.

Douthat State Park – Millboro, Va.

With more than 43 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and bridle trails, Douthat offers some of Virginia’s most breathtaking mountain scenery. Hike around the lake, the dam spillway, waterfalls to scenic overlooks.

Push yourself on the Mountain Side Trail. This 1.2-mile moderate to difficult trail is accessible along the Mountain Top Trail and the Guest Lodge Trail. This narrow and mountainous trail varies little in elevation but has a fairly steep edge, so care must be taken. It’s not for children or the inexperienced.

Blue Suck Falls Trail is a 3-mile hiking and biking trail that offers a stunning view of a wonderful waterfall. The word “suck” is an Appalachian term for a whirlpool at the base of the falls. The view at 2,205 feet makes the hike worthwhile. For more about the park’s trails and recreation, visit here

Claytor Lake State Park, Dublin, Va.

While much of the fun at Claytor Lake State Park is centered around the water, the park remains an attraction year-round. There are nature, history, and outdoor programs throughout the year, as well as festivals and music events. Claytor Lake State Park offers six easy trails covering 7 miles. The trails generally pass through hardwood forest. Lakeview Trail is an easy, handicapped-accessible, mile-long stroll. The trail is also the starting point of a 5K cross-country trail designed by Boy Scout troop 244. It’s ideal for seasoned and novice runners.

Natural Tunnel State Park – Duffield, Va.

Besides the amazing Tunnel, other scenic features at Natural Tunnel State Park include a wide chasm between steep stone walls surrounded by several pinnacles, or “chimneys.” The park has seven walking trails. All are easy trails, while the longest is 2.1 miles long. The trails lead to unique features of the park: the tunnel floor, Lover’s Leap, Tunnel Hill, and Gorge Ridge.

For a personal challenge, walk to the tunnel while you let the family take the chairlift down and back. Read more about the park here.

 Wilderness Road State Park – Ewing, Va.

Visitors can hike, bike, or ride horses on the 8.5-mile Wilderness Road Trail linking the park with more than 50 miles of trails in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. The park features the reconstructed Martin’s Station, an outdoor living history museum depicting life on Virginia’s 1775 frontier. Follow the link for more about the park.

Virginia State Parks with handicapped accessible trails include Bear Creek Lake, Belle Isle, Chippokes Plantation, Claytor Lake, First Landing, James River, Lake Anna, Leesylvania, Southwest Virginia Museum, Natural Tunnel, New River Trail, Pocahontas, and Westmoreland.