Fall is the perfect time to travel and Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains are a top spot to enjoy nature’s beauty and have some socially distant outdoor activities. There is a lot to do in the Roanoke area but if hiking is your passion, then this is the place. In fact, some of the country’s best trails for hiking and biking — some 1,000 miles — are here. Here are some of our favorite trails.
- Currently the National Park Service has reopened 27 miles of the Appalachian Trail known as the Triple Crown between Newport Road and Mountain Pass Road, which includes McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs. McAfee Knob is one of the most recognizable spots on the trail. It has an elevation of 3,197 feet and it’s a steady climb to reach it — but it’s worth it. It has stunning 270-degree panoramic views of the valley and mountains. If there is one picture for your Instagram, this is it!
- Explore Park in Roanoke has more than 14 miles of hiking and biking trails, all open to the public at no charge, and with a $3 Explore Park day pass, you get access to the parking areas including Rutrough Point and Journeys End. It’s located at Milepost 115 on the Blue Ridge Parkway Trail, and as you hike, you’ll see dozens of reconstructed buildings from the 1800s through the early 20th century. There is also an 18-hole Mayflower Hills Disc Golf Course.
- Mill Mountain Park features the city’s most famous symbol — the Roanoke Star. It’s the area’s equivalent of the Hollywood sign. The star is the world’s largest freestanding illuminated man-made star and was built on top of Mill Mountain in 1949. The park is 568 acres and there are picnic tables and 10 miles of multi-use trails, although some are not open for mountain bikers nor equestrian riders. But the great fun is walking to the star and looking out.
- The Dragon’s Tooth Trail, located in nearby Catawba, isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s rugged but rewarding. On the trail you’ll see rock outcrops and the Dragon’s Tooth, a unique spire that projects 35 feet above the surrounding rock. The climb is not really for beginners, so be careful!