Relax, Recharge, and Reset in Highland County

Wanderlove is about doing what you love with the people you love.  Experience the unspoiled views and hidden gems in our mountain community of Highland County, one of the least populated counties east of the Mississippi River that is ideal for those seeking solitude and a refreshing sense of freedom.  Highland is characterized by rural landscapes, dark night skies, and small towns.  Plan your next road trip at www.highlandcounty.org, or check out the following sweet spots for your itinerary.

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Sweet Spot #1:  Climb the Sounding Knob Fire Tower

It’s easy to elevate your travel experience in Highland, but now you can get even higher.  Over 100 steps up the Sounding Knob Fire Tower will give you a lasting memory – and maybe even some wobbly legs!  It is located up a gravel drive on Sounding Knob Road just 1.3 miles south of its intersection with Rt. 250.  Enjoy the majestic view now through November 1, 2020 from sunrise to sunset every day.  The practice of social distancing is required, and please be sure to exit right when leaving Sounding Knob Road and entering Rt. 250.  Vehicles with very low clearance may have difficulty with water breaks on Sounding Knob Road, but most vehicles have no issues.

Sweet Spot #2:  Taste pure deliciousness on the new Virginia Maple Syrup Trail

Highland County is well known for its maple syrup industry, being one of the most southern places in the U.S. that the sweet “liquid gold” can consistently be produced.  Maple syrup producers and their sugar camps dot the landscape, each with their own stories, history and techniques.  Because of the freezing and thawing cycle in late winter, the county hosts an annual Maple Festival during the second and third weekends in March.  Outside of that March timeframe, eight Highland County sugar camps plan to be open by appointment to explore for a tour, local syrup sample and fun.  Pick up an official passport, get yours stamped after each sugar camp visit, and if you complete all eight, you’ll even get a free gift!  Set to begin in September of 2020, get full details at www.virginiamaplesyrup.com.  Call ahead to each syrup producer for details and COVID-19 protocol.

Sweet Spot #3:  Find all the beautiful shapes and colors on the Barn Quilt Trail

Barn quilts are painted wooden quilt blocks adorned on barns and houses.  Beginning in 2011, Highland County was the first county in Virginia to have its very own Barn Quilt Trail.  Starting in mid-September, pick up a copy of the newly revised Barn Quilt Trail brochure or view the online version at www.highlandcounty.org to locate over 50 unique barn quilts on a leisurely country ride.  With interesting names like “Five Reds,” “Colaw Apple,” or “Jacob’s Ladder,” each barn quilt tells a story, usually with significant special meaning about the owner, nature, family, business or design.

Sweet Spot #4:  Take a hike on unspoiled, sparsely-populated trails

Get off the road and lace up your boots for hiking in the clean mountain air.  Four trails are featured in Highland County’s section of Virginia’s Western Highlands Trail Guide at issuu.com/tnc27/docs/virginia_s_western_highlands_trail_guide4x8.5-5-we, each with varying degrees of difficulty and features.

Sweet Spot #5:  Relax with fishing along the cool, clean streams and ponds

Highland County offers three rivers for public fishing: the Bullpasture, the Potomac and Laurel Fork.  Discover information on places to go and regulations with Fish Virginia First at www.fishvirginiafirst.com/partner_pages/highland-county or the Department of Wildlife Resources at dwr.virginia.gov/fishing.  If you need a guide, check out Bull Mountain Guide Service at www.bullmtnguides.com.  If you want a fun experience with children to introduce them to fishing, visit Hiner Town Trout Fishing, roughly one mile north of Monterey off of Potomac River Road (Rt. 220) at 222 Hiner’s Lane.  You can fish in a small pond from 9 am to 7 pm Monday through Saturday or by reservation on Sunday at 540-679-6194 (if you call before Saturday).  Family units must remain six feet apart.  Stay updated at www.facebook.com/Hiner-Town-Trout-Fishing-102282044733901 .  Finally, if you are just in the mood to taste some fish, get your fresh or frozen trout at the Virginia Trout Company at 5480 Potomac River Road, Monday through Wednesday from 8 am to noon (www.virginiatroutcompany.com).

Sweet Spot #6:  Discover the history of an area that looks much the same as it did over 100 years ago

The Highland Historical Society runs a beautiful museum known as The Mansion House that served as a hospital during the Battle of McDowell in May of 1862.  Located at 161 Mansion House Road in McDowell, you can learn more about Highland’s history.  The Mansion House accepts free-will donations for entry and is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm. through the end of October.  More info and a virtual view of its newest exhibits can be found at www.highlandcountyhistory.com.  More information on the Civil War history and trails in the area can be found at www.civilwartrails.org and www.shenandoahatwar.org

Rt. 250 and Rt. 220 are the two main roads to be traveled in Highland, intersecting at the county seat of Monterey in the center of the county.  For a map to help plan your trip, check out the brochure at www.highlandcounty.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Sweet-Rides-Motorcycle-Map.pdf or view VDOT’s Highland County Map at www.virginiadot.org/travel/resources/county_maps/45_Highland.pdf.

Feeling the itch to discover more?  That’s your Wanderlove calling, and we have you covered!  Find out more at www.highlandcounty.org, or learn more about other destinations at www.Virginia.org/WanderLove.  Happy travels!

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