This little gem of a park is close to Galax and Independence. Managed by the Virginia Department of Forestry, Matthews State Forest offers educational activities at it's facility North of 58, along with a research project for American Chestnut and a few trails. South of 58 the trail system is well developed for horseback riding, mountain biking or hiking. Learn more here.
Whats nearby: After a day on the trails, drive a few miles to Mt. Vale Vineyard - enjoy a glass of wine, winetasting or tour the vineyard.
The Iron Mountain Trails are closer to Independence & Elk Creek then the trails on the western edge. Straddling Grayson and Wythe Counties this trail system links up to hundreds of miles of trails through the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail and Little Dry Run Wilderness. This area of the Jefferson National Forest is home to the Comers Rock overlook, Hales Lake and primitive camping areas. Trails include; Hales Lake Trail, Unaka Trail and the Iron Mountain Trail.
Located close to the Fairview/Galax area of Grayson County, the Fisher Peak Trail system connects to the Blue Ridge Music Center and is right off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This trail system is great for those who have different skills as the more technical Fisher Peak Trail offers challenge while the gradual High Meadow Trail is perfect for the casual stroll and easy grade.
Fries, Virginia is the beginning of the scenic New River Trail State Park. Park at the trailhead in Downtown Fries and head north along the New River. If you make it the few miles to New River Deli, reward yourself with a candybar! Perfect grade for a casual stroll or a bike ride. Bikes are available for rent during season at the New River Outdoor Adventures north of town. This outfitter also offers handicap accesible golf cart trips and river gear.
Nearby: Eat lunch at The Cafe restaurant in the Town of Fries.
The Lewis Fork Wilderness Trails are full of adventure. Trail heads off of Hwy 603 near Troutdale can take you in all four directions. Head up to Mt. Rogers the Highest Peak in Virginia or head west into the sunset. Spend the night at nearby Grindstone Campground or head over to the Troutdale area for a relaxing cabin.
Nearby: Best barbecue and lunch specials at Fox Creek General Store!
It doesn't get any better than the Virginia Creeper Trail. Available to hikers, bikers and horses this trail is well known for the scenic vistas and the exciting 20+ miles of downhill biking. Bike Rentals and shuttle is available at the Creeper Trail Bike Rentals and Shuttle.
Nearby: Enjoy the hometown character of Whitetop and try the famous steak and cheese sandwich on the front porch of Whitetop Food and Gas.
Grayson Highlands State Park has 13 hiking trails which vary from .5 to just over 2 miles in length. These trails lead to panoramic vistas, scenic waterfalls and a 200 year old pioneer cabin. The park also offers access to the Appalachian Trail and trails in the surrounding Jefferson National Forest. Camping, visitor center, interpretive programs, Wild ponies... this park has it all!
Nearby: Grayson Highlands General Store for supplies or to recharge after your hike.
Whitetop Mountain is the second highest peak in Virginia. The summit can be reached in a vehicle by National Forest Road (high clearance/ 4x4 vehicles recommended). When you reach the top the view is spectaculor. Park at a marked trailhead and use the Appalachian Trail to head in either direction. The weather can be extreme here as the bald meadows and leaning trees indicate, so come prepared for rain, wind, fog and snow and ice.
Nearby: Visit Whitetop Food and Gas for a post trail treat!