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mclawsdrive

Hiking and the outdoors in Roanoke

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One of the biggest amenities Roanoke has (at least for me) is its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I started this thread to find out where other forumers have gone to enjoy the great outdoors in or near Roanoke. Preferably we can focus mainly on areas that are less than an hour from the city, or at least are closer to Roanoke than to other metro areas of the state.

I'll get it started.

One area I really love is the Bottom Creek Nature preserve on the Montgomery/Floyd/Roanoke county line. There are trails through the preserve (owned by the nature conservancy) but my favorite thing to do is bushwack down the gorge itself (be prepared to get your feet wet). One of the side trails in the preserve leads down to the water's edge. This area is very rugged and beautiful; full of rapids, waterfalls and steep cliffs. A ways into the gorge, at waterfall decends down the western side into Bottom Creek. This waterfall is said to be the 2nd highest in Virginia.

This website shows some pictures and a video of kayakers in the gorge during high water. http://www.americanwhitewater.org/rivers/id/1887/

This is a very cool place, but don't go there if you're not an experienced hiker/ kayaker (depending on what you're doing there).

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An article in today's Roanoke times describes the annual hike made by Hollins students up Tinker mountian. There is a slide show with the article and the fall colors are enticing. I might just have to go to Tinker mountain this Saturday when I'm in town. I've been there before, but I've come from The Botetourt side, where I think the trail is called tinker cliffs because it follows a cliff line that strattles the ridge for miles.

http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/88673

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Good idea for a thread! I have hiked Dragons Tooth on the Appalachian Trail many times. It is great fun, especially the last 1/3 where some climbing is required. Views are gorgeous on top. However, I have to say the best view of the Blue Ridge Mountains I have seen is at the top of MacAfees Knob (sp?). Another portion of the AT. Both of these are well within an hours drive.

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I would probably guess that the McAfee's Knob Trailhead is about 25 min from downtown Roanoke and Dragon's Tooth is another 10 minutes farther. Just to add info to my previous post, Bottom Creek gorge is about 30 minutes from the city off of 221 south. It's very near the Amrhein's Vineyard, for those of you who know where that is.

And I would agree that Dragon's tooth is a great hike. I love hikes that include more rocks and cliffs or require some climbing and this hike definitely has it, plus great views at the top. Heres a pic:http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=htt...6lr%3D%26sa%3DN And I'd also agree that the view is stellar from the Bluff at the top of McAfee's Knob. Here's a link to a site with a picture of the knob: http://gorp.away.com/gorp/publishers/stackpole/va_mcafee.htm

And here's another pic on the National Geographic website: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventur...6/excerpt1.html

A view that I think gives McAfee's a run for its money is Sharp Top at the Peaks of Otter. The hike itself isn't too exiting until you're near the top. But the bald peak, covered in massive boulders, provides 360 degreee views of the surrounding mountains... sharp top summit from a plane

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I agree about this being a great thread idea!

About 14 years ago when I moved back to Roanoke after living in a much larger, much hipper city (Portland, OR) after getting over my initial depression I decided to figure out what was the best feature about the area and to try to make the best of it. I decided that it was the proximity to the outdoors so I got into hiking, climbing and all that good stuff. I kinda got lazy the last few years and put on too much weight to do any climbing but I still love hiking. It's always bothered me a bit to see magazines like Outdoors list their best outdoors cities and Roanoke always gets overlooked but Charlottesville will make the list. I really think there needs to be a city pr department pushing Roanoke's outdoor opportunities.

My favorite hiking spots are anywhere in the Natural Bridge area or down in Patrick County in the Rock Castle Gorge area. A favorite quick day hike is Roaring Run. Also I like the Flat Top trail at Peaks of Otter better than Sharp Top, half the crowd and equally great views. I've seen the parking area for Sharp Top packed and gone on a mile or two up the road and seen only 2 or 3 cars at the Flat Top lot. Here's some photos of other places.

Roaring Run

roaring_run_cross.jpg

Mt Pleasant/Cold Mt

bluesky.jpg

Crabtree Falls

crabtree.JPG

McAfee's Knob

view1.jpg

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A few weeks ago, the Roanoke Times had a series of articles and webcasts about the AT through SW Virginia. Areas such as McAffee's knob, Dragons tooth and the Grayson Highlands near Mt. Rogers were featured, including pictures. If you're interested in hiking, this information might be of interest. I posted this mainly because Grayson Highlands is one of my favorite areas to hike, even if it is 2 hours southwest of Roanoke. I strongly recommend this state park as a hiking/camping destination. It is by far the most unique environment I have experienced east of the Rockies. The alpine meadows are more reminiscent of a valley in the Swiss alps then Virginia, and the wide open, craggy landscape reminds me of the landscape of the Montana foothills. I guarantee if you hike in this area, you will agree it doesn't look like Virginia. The plant life is unique, with scientists coming to study the highland bogs, usually found much farther north. Then there's the wild ponies, which I have encountered on every visit. My last time there, I must have seen at least 15 of them. As an added bonus, just a few miles from the parking lot is the summit of Mt. Rogers, the highest peak in VA. The summit itself is anti-climactic, as it is covered in Fir trees, but the surrounding balds and meadows make the journey well worth the effort.

Grayson Highlands was voted 'Best weekend hike' by Backpacker magazine.

. BEST WEEKEND OVERALL

Grayson Highlands, VA

Picking the finest weekend on the AT is like finding the prettiest snowflake in a blizzard. But this 41-mile stretch gets our nod for its unmatched combination of altitude, scenery, flowers, and wildlife. From sprawling meadows above 5,000 feet, you'll enjoy some of the AT's most sustained mountain views of the Blue Ridge. You'll see wild ponies and early-summer explosions of rhododendrons and azaleas. You'll walk past outcroppings of pink and red volcanic crystals on Wilburn Ridge while climbing 5,729-foot Mt. Rogers, Virginia's highest peak (on a mile-long spur). You'll crane your neck to spot Whitetop Mountain's rare flying squirrels, plus hawks and peregrine falcons. In late summer, you'll stuff your face with blueberries. And you'll finish in Damascus, VA, justifiably known as "the friendliest town on the AT."

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Has anybody ever been to Burke's Garden? It's sort of like Brigadoon nestled in a valley. :)

It's out there near Tazewell, if I recall. Years ago, we approached it from the south over a mountain fire lane. That was spectacular! (and scary when we had to back up to allow a lumber truck to pass).

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Has anybody ever been to Burke's Garden? It's sort of like Brigadoon nestled in a valley. :)

It's out there near Tazewell, if I recall.

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Isn't there a hike that has a waterfall on near Explore park somewhere? My nephew is coming in to town this weekend and I'd like to take him on a nice hike that is close. He's already done Dragons tooth. Can't drive more than 1/2 hour as our time will be limited. Any ideas?

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I'll try to rack my brain a bit more but right now, the closest good waterfall I can think of is Twin Falls in northeast Floyd county. There is a gate with no trespassing signs at the trailhead, but the land is owned by the nature conservancy, so you wouldn't technically be on 'private' property. No gun toting mountain men will chase you down. The trail is only half a mile or so, but you can bushwack your way down to the bottom and be in the vortex of an impressive set of converging waterfalls.

There's also Apple Orchard Falls in Botetourt, which is probably about a 30 min drive.

I'll have more info later.

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Here's an old Roanoke times article about some falls in the area. Apple Orchard would be the closest, followed by Roaring Run.

waterfalls

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There's also Apple Orchard Falls in Botetourt, which is probably about a 30 min drive.

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I'll try to rack my brain a bit more but right now, the closest good waterfall I can think of is Twin Falls in northeast Floyd county. There is a gate with no trespassing signs at the trailhead, but the land is owned by the nature conservancy, so you wouldn't technically be on 'private' property. No gun toting mountain men will chase you down. The trail is only half a mile or so, but you can bushwack your way down to the bottom and be in the vortex of an impressive set of converging waterfalls.

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Thanks for the tips! Now I have a couple places to check out. Hopefully he'll be up for one.

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Another Waterfall hike, Falls Ridge! I had never heard about this place until I stumbled upon it today on the internet. Here's a link to the Roanoke times description of the area. Here's the directions -

From Roanoke, take I-81 to the Ironto exit (128). Follow North Fork Road (Virginia Route 603) approximately 7 miles, turning left on Falls Ridge Road, immediately crossing the North Fork of the Roanoke River. After crossing the railroad tracks take an immediate left to the parking area. From Blacksburg turn from U.S. 460 onto Virginia Route 603. From Christiansburg take Route 641 to Route 603.

This should be about 30-35 minutes from downtown Roanoke.

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I always try to visit a vineyard or two or four whenever I'm in Roanoke. While this is not exactly an outdoor activity, the 4 vineyards I frequently visit provide great views and opportunities for picnics or just enjoying some wine outside. Visiting all 4 (along with some detours into Floyd and maybe a quick hike or two) is a great way to spend a sunny day. My favorite vineyard just happens to be the closest to Roanoke. Valhalla Vineyards is about 20 minutes from downtown and offers awe-inspiring views of the Roanoke Valley. Check out their website here and be sure to check out the 'Events' and 'Event Planning' pages, which include some pictures to give you an idea of how great the views are.

Traveling just a few minutes farther Southwest brings you to Amrhien Vineyards, another great place to visit. Bottom Creek Gorge nature conservancy area is only 5 minutes from here, and Twin falls is about 10 minutes away.

About 30 minutes farther southwest in Floyd County are two Vineyards less than a mile apart. Chateau Morrisette offers a more comprehensive destination experience, with a large visitors center and tasting hall and a restaurant housed in a separate building. Just a minute or two driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway takes you to Villa Appalaccia. This Italian style vineyard has a very Mediterranean feel and even has a bocce court.

Visiting all these vineyards is like living the Southwest VA version of Sideways. And there are many other vineyards within an hour east and northeast, and even a few more in Floyd County. If you

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Another Waterfall hike, Falls Ridge! I had never heard about this place until I stumbled upon it today on the internet. Here's a link to the Roanoke times description of the area. Here's the directions -

From Roanoke, take I-81 to the Ironto exit (128). Follow North Fork Road (Virginia Route 603) approximately 7 miles, turning left on Falls Ridge Road, immediately crossing the North Fork of the Roanoke River. After crossing the railroad tracks take an immediate left to the parking area. From Blacksburg turn from U.S. 460 onto Virginia Route 603. From Christiansburg take Route 641 to Route 603.

This should be about 30-35 minutes from downtown Roanoke.

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Here are some more pics of Roanoke area hikes.

Apple Orchard Falls

post-9348-1169151094_thumb.jpg

McAfee's Knob

post-9348-1169151167_thumb.jpg

Dragon's Tooth

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Mill Mountain at night

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post-9348-1169151094_thumb.jpg

post-9348-1169151167_thumb.jpg

post-9348-1169151192_thumb.jpg

post-9348-1169151236_thumb.jpg

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Once again, I have proof that Gov. Tim Kaine and I are actually somehow related, as we have such similar taste. On his day long visit to Roanoke, Kaine and his cabinet spent some time at my favorite vineyard, Valhalla. Staff were wowed by the spectacular views and of course, the fantastic wine. This is (at least) the third place the governor has visited shortly after I visited and/or reported on it. story of Kaine's Roanoke visit

* I chose this thread because of course, vineyards are outdoors and visiting them is in my opinion an outdoor activity, particularly in the mountains SW of Roanoke where one is surrounded by abundant outdoor activities, especially hiking. *

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Once again, I have proof that Gov. Tim Kaine and I are actually somehow related, as we have such similar taste. On his day long visit to Roanoke, Kaine and his cabinet spent some time at my favorite vineyard, Valhalla. Staff were wowed by the spectacular views and of course, the fantastic wine. This is (at least) the third place the governor has visited shortly after I visited and/or reported on it. story of Kaine's Roanoke visit

* I chose this thread because of course, vineyards are outdoors and visiting them is in my opinion an outdoor activity, particularly in the mountains SW of Roanoke where one is surrounded by abundant outdoor activities, especially hiking. *

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Once again, I have proof that Gov. Tim Kaine and I are actually somehow related, as we have such similar taste. On his day long visit to Roanoke, Kaine and his cabinet spent some time at my favorite vineyard, Valhalla. Staff were wowed by the spectacular views and of course, the fantastic wine. This is (at least) the third place the governor has visited shortly after I visited and/or reported on it. story of Kaine's Roanoke visit

* I chose this thread because of course, vineyards are outdoors and visiting them is in my opinion an outdoor activity, particularly in the mountains SW of Roanoke where one is surrounded by abundant outdoor activities, especially hiking. *

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