WanderLove Is Calling You to the Alleghany Highlands of VA

WanderLove is about reconnecting with what you love. Experience scenic overlooks, miles of trails, and all of the winding roads in between when you road trip through the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia.

Right off Interstate 64 and only 20 minutes to Interstate 81, travelers from Virginia and around the region can easily access a quiet getaway surrounded by the mountains. With more than half of the area designated national forest lands, there’s plenty of room to spread out, take in the sights, and uncover all that makes this region Uniquely Alleghany. Discover the best spots to play, eat, and stay in this guide to the Alleghany Highlands.

Go Outside and Play

With hundreds of miles of trails, hikers, bikers, and horseback riders alike will find a spot to enjoy the beauty of the area. Douthat State Park offers the perfect getaway to immerse yourself in the mountains. From challenging climbs with scenic overlooks to a stroll through the woods, there’s a trail for everyone. Launch a boat from the public ramp and fish Douthat Lake for trout, largemouth bass, sunfish, and black crappie. Just below the dam, a special trout fishing area is set up for the kids.

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests provide a variety of trails to explore. Hike or bike through rhododendron thickets and hardwood forests to water crossings and mountain peaks. If you’re looking for a peaceful walk through a diverse forest ecosystem, experience the wonder of the Eastern National Children’s Forest.

Follow the Jackson River for 14.4 miles on the Jackson River Scenic Trail. This mostly flat rail trail made up of finely crushed gravel is a great spot to get the whole family out for a walk, run, or bike ride. Check out Alleghany Outdoors for bike, tube, and kayak rentals, as well as shuttle services along the river and trail. The Jackson River Sports Complex also features a handicap accessible fishing pier and brand new walking trail adjacent to the Jackson River.

Lake Moomaw

Play all day at Lake Moomaw, a peaceful getaway with 43 miles of undeveloped shoreline. Discover hidden inlets around the lake, hang out on the beaches, and fish for perch, trout, bass, and panfish. Float or paddle the Jackson and Cowpasture rivers for a relaxing tour of the area by water.

Hidden Gems

Follow the twists and turns of Route 220 to Falling Springs Falls. Visible from the road, the overlook offers views of the 80-foot waterfall, one of the tallest in Virginia, and the valley below. 

Falling Springs Falls, photo by Darren Seay

Fuel Up

Choose from a variety of restaurants in the towns of Clifton Forge and Covington. Find the best sandwiches, subs, and salads for lunch at 42 Deli, plus delicious cookies baked daily. From freshly baked pizzas and calzones to mouthwatering eggplant parmesan and homemade meat sauce, get your fill of authentic Italian cuisine from Cucci’s Pizzeria.

Café Michel specializes in upscale French and American cuisine set in a casual atmosphere with a menu that includes fresh fish, local ingredients, and daily specials. Head to The Rail Bar & Grille for great food, craft beer, and live entertainment. Jack Mason’s Tavern & Brewery is the perfect post-adventure hangout spot, featuring a wide selection of their own brewed craft beer, wine & spirits, and daily specials. Michael’s Pizza is also a great choice and can be found in both Covington and Clifton Forge.  


Pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery beside the water at Humpback Bridge, one of the oldest covered bridges remaining in the United States. Take a photo with the LOVEworks sign made from historic bricks, gears, railroad ties, and natural features at the roadside park beside Dunlap Creek. There are also three additional LOVEworks in the region, located at Blue Spring Run Farm, Downtown Covington & at the Covington Welcome Center.

Relax and Unwind

Get some rest at one of the charming lodging opportunities in the area. If you are looking to stay close to the action, try one of the cabins or campsites at Douthat State Park. Whether you are looking for heat and air conditioning or want to sleep by the lake, there is an option for you. Just steps away from the Jackson River Scenic Trailhead, the Evergreen Inn offers a cozy, private space to serve as your home base for all of your hiking, biking, paddling, and fly fishing adventures. Another hot spot for fly fishing, situated along the Jackson River is Cliff View Golf Club & Inn, a great choice for any outdoor enthusiast.

Located in downtown Clifton Forge, The Red Lantern Inn is a delightful bed and breakfast close within walking distance of several local eateries and cultural centers. Begin your morning with a cup of coffee on the enclosed second floor porch with views of the town. Step back in time when you stay at the Hillcrest Mansion Inn, complete with a wrap around porch, luxury linens, and a three to five course gourmet breakfast to start the day. Discover other unique lodging opportunities through Airbnb. 

Experience WanderLove for yourself when you visit the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia. Please check local guidelines and regulations before making plans to get outside. Remember to practice social distancing guidelines, wear a mask, and respect others’ health when outside.

Places to Go, Things to See: