|View of Abbott Lake at Peaks of Otter Lodge|
|Mountain reflections in Abbott Lake.|
With a 40 mph speed limit, the Parkway is designed for leisure travel. To really enjoy the views, visitors should take their time and schedule numerous side trips on foot, horseback, or bicycle or by boat. That's the best way to understand why the Blue Ridge Parkway is called America's Favorite Journey.Hike and Bike
|One of the bridges on the Roaring Run hike|
|Learn about coal mining at the|
historic furnace at Roaring Run.
Parks like New River Trail State Park, which runs parallel to the New River for 39 miles, offer excellent biking trails. Virginia’s Explore Park, at milepost 115 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just east of Roanoke, offers terrain for bike riders of all skill levels.Get on the water
Despite its name, New River is reputed to be the oldest river in North America. It’s designated as an American Heritage River, and small boats can easily navigate its class 1-3 rapids. The James and Roanoke Rivers are also suitable for paddling by canoe or kayak.Spend a day swimming or boating at Smith Mountain Lake, the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains.” Located in a state park in Franklin County, it is the second largest and most popular freshwater lake in Virginia.
|Smith Mountain Lake is a prime place for all kinds of|
water fun--swimming, fishing, house boating, sailing, and more.
More than one-fourth of the Appalachian Trail lies in Virginia. The AT roughly parallels the Parkway from mile 0 at Rockfish Gap to mile 103 and can be accessed from numerous locations in the Blue Ridge region. If you choose to hike the AT for a few hours or for weeks, you’ll enjoy some breathtaking views.
One of the most photographed spots on the AT is McAfee Knob with excellent views of Catawba Valley. It’s easily accessible just west of Roanoke on Rt. 311 and will take a couple of hours to complete round trip.Stay awhile
|Fishing is a popular activity at rivers along the Blue Ridge Parkway.|
Horseback riding, farmers' markets, and music concerts are other attractions.
During our mid-September visit, leaves were just hinting of color, so I think October would be a perfect time to return. Cool temperatures, trees splashed with brilliant fall foliage, and great hiking weather would make this a memorable drive.
To help plan your trip, get the official publication of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association, which includes suggestions of places to pause or stay and their milepost locations.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier