Adventure Ready Activities
Rockbridge County is home to beautiful, scenic hiking trails. Explore the Appalachian Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway Trails, Boston Knob, Otter Creek and more. Stop by the Lexington Visitor Center for maps.
Appalachian Trail – A public footpath that runs across the Appalachian Mountains from Maine to Georgia. A portion of the trail crosses through Rockbridge County. The easiest access to the trail is via Rt. 60 East into Amherst County to Long Mountain Wayside (9 miles East of Buena Vista). The trail crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 53. Moderate to Difficult.
Blue Ridge Parkway Trails – The Rt. 60 east entrance is at milepost 45.6.
Whetstone Ridge Trail – Milepost 29 on the Parkway. A 12 mile US Forest Service managed trail starting at Whetstone Ridge Visitor Center. Trail runs directly along the spine of the ridge for 8 miles of breathtaking views. Moderate.
Boston Knob – Milepost 38.8 on the Parkway. A leg stretching walk only .10 mile in length. Easy.
Otter Creek – Milepost 63.1 on the Parkway. A pleasant 0.8 mile loop trail through the forest overlooking Otter Lake. Easy.
Yankee Horse Trail – Milepost 34.4 on the Parkway. A short 0.2 mile walk to a small waterfall overlooking a reconstructed logging railroad from the early 1900's. Moderate.
Indian Rocks – Milepost 47.5 on the Parkway. A 0.3 mile walk through the woods to spectacular rock formations. Good choice for children because of the short walk and rocks to climb on. Moderate.
White Oak Flats – Milepost 55.2 on the Parkway. Length is 0.1 mile. Easy.
Brushy Hills Hike – Former logging roads make pleasant trails for exploring the 560 forested acres owned by the City of Lexington. To reach the trails from Lexington follow Rt. 251west. Turn right on Union Run Road. Follow Union Run Road for approximately 2.5 miles until you reach the Town Spring, a low stone building on the right. The trailhead begins at the Town Spring. Moderate.
Buena Vista River Walk – Completed in 1997, well-maintained walking/ running trail with magnificent views of the Maury River and surrounding wildlife. Benches are located along the trail to relax and enjoy scenery. Parking located off 21st Street across the railroad tracks on the left or off 10th Street across the railroad tracks on the right. 2.5 miles one way. Easy.
Chessie Nature Trail – A 6 mile rails-to-trails hike along a former railroad bed of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, now owned and managed by Virginia Military Institute. Lots of wildlife, wildflowers and limestone formations to enjoy along the scenic Maury River. Access from Lexington (Rt. 11 to Rt. 631 east on Old Buena Vista Road 1/2 mile to parking on left) or from Buena Vista (Rt. 60 west to Rt. 608 at the east end of the Russell Robey Bridge). Pedestrians only. Easy. Visit www.vmi.edu/chessie for more information.
Glen Maury Park – In Buena Vista, 10th Street off Magnolia Avenue, (US 501 near the southern city limits) Level trail (unmarked) from the park office along an old road to the Paxton House (c.1834). Cross in front of the old house to a dirt road alongside the Maury River. The trail ends at rocky bluffs overlooking the river. Easy.
Goshen Pass – Nature's finest in Virginia, easy to enjoy from your car as you pass through this magnificent unspoiled rocky gorge where the Maury River rushes through. Great place for a picnic or refreshing walk along the river. Rt. 39 west of intersection with Rt. 11. Travel about 12 miles and you will enter the Pass. All levels.
Historic Lexington Walking Tour – Begins at the Lexington Visitor Center with several tour options ranging from .08 mile to a little over 3 miles. Enjoy tree-lined streets, beautiful old homes, college campuses, museums and a vibrant downtown area. Walking tour maps are available at the Lexington Visitor Center. Easy.
House Mountain – A prominent Rockbridge County landmark, five miles west of Lexington. The mountain consists of two peaks with gentle meadowland between called ''the saddle.'' Once a pasture and apple orchard, the saddle looks up at the cliffs of Big House Mountain to the west (3,645 feet) and Little House Mountain to the East (3,386 feet). To reach the trails from Lexington, take Rt. 60 west 2 miles. Turn left on Jacktown Road (Rt. 641), continue 3.5 miles. Turn right on Saddle Ridge Rd., 1/4 mile to the end of state maintenance and park. Do not block the entrances. As you begin the walk, bear right at the first fork in the road to reach the saddle, which is located 2 miles from the parking area. There is a white gate and information board here. The hike is moderate to the saddle. The hike to Big House Mountain to the west is difficult.
James River Face Wilderness Area – 9,000 acre area known for diversity of plant and animal life and well-maintained trail system. Elevations range from 650 ft. to 3,073 ft. Six trails are contained within the area including a nice section of the Appalachian Trail. A must see is Devil's Marbleyard, an unusual boulder field with excellent views about 1.5 miles up Belfast Trail. To reach the trails from Lexington take I-81 south. Take exit #180 and follow Rt. 11 south to Natural Bridge. Take Rt. 130 east for 3 miles. Turn right on Rt. 759 for 3 miles and then turn left on Rt. 781. Belfast trailhead is 1.5 miles on left. Continue on FS 35 at the end of Rt. 781 to reach trailheads for Sulfur Springs Trail and the Appalachian Trail.
Jump Mountain Trail – A challenging 5.6 mile hike with a climb to the top of Jump Mountain with great views. To reach the trail from Lexington take Rt. 39 west for 15.5 miles. Turn right on a dirt road that is not marked, but is located at the upper end of Goshen Pass. Park at the lot located beside the swinging bridge. Walk over the bridge and turn left, then follow the signs. Difficult. Special note: Hunters use this trail during hunting seasons. Please check with the VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries if you have any questions to insure a safe trip (804) 367-1000.
Lake Robertson Trail System – Eight different hiking trails ranging from 1 to 1.75 miles in length that surround a 31 acre fishing lake with campground, picnic shelters, swimming pool, bath house, playing fields, tennis and volleyball courts. To reach the trails from Lexington take Rt. 11 south to Rt. 251 east. Turn right on County 770 (Turnpike Road) to main entrance. Easy to moderate.
Laurel Run Trail – In the heart of Goshen Pass, this trail makes for a good hike along a beautiful small native trout stream. Nice waterfalls, and seasonal rhododendron and mountain laurel displays makes this 3 mile round trip hike most enjoyable. To reach the trail from Lexington follow Rt. 39 west to Goshen Pass. The trailhead is approximately 1/4 mile east of the picnic area. Moderate. Special note: Hunters use the trail during hunting seasons. The best time to hike this trail is when the trailhead is gated. Please check with the VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries if you have any questions to insure a safe trip. (804) 367-1000.
Locher Tract – Site of an old family farm, the U.S. Forest Service now maintains the area for wildlife watching. Look for beaver, deer, herons, quail, turkey and more. It is an easy 1 mile loop along the James River past a grassy opening, through piny woods and around an active beaver swamp. Balcony Falls Trail, a 4 mile moderately difficult hike that is part of the James River Face Wilderness trail system, also originates here. To reach the trails from Lexington take I-81 south. Take exit #180 and follow Rt. 11 south to Natural Bridge. Take Rt. 130 east for 3 miles. Turn right on Rt. 759. Turn left after the river on Rt. 782. The trailhead is at the end of the road.
Moore's Creek Dam – (Lexington City Reservoir) This hike takes you through beautiful National forests 2.3 miles to the old city water supply, a 22 acre pristine lake owned by the City of Lexington. Colorful Brook Trout may be found in the lake. This remote walk usually provides lots of wildlife sightings. Located 19 miles southwest of Lexington. Follow Rt.11 south to Rt. 251 south, 5.2 miles straight onto Rt. 677, to Rt. 612 (Blue Grass Trail). Becomes gravel go 1.9 miles and turn right at Lexington City Reservoir sign. Go 1.1 miles, park near gate. Head down road .2 mile, turn right at fishing access sign.
Natural Bridge Cedar Creek Trail – Trail follows Cedar Creek beneath the Natural Bridge, one of Virginia's most cherished natural wonders. Past the bridge is the opening to Saltpeter Cave. Travel over a footbridge that brings you to Hemlock Grove where arbutus, rhododendron and wake robin bloom in the spring. Nearby is an underground stream called the Lost River. Finally, the trail ends at Lace Waterfalls, where Cedar Creek sprays down over the rocks for 50 feet. Admission to the Natural Bridge is required for this hike. Easy.
North Mountain Highlands Scenic Tour – This driving tour includes many short-circuit hiking trails atop North Mountain to stretch your legs and enjoy views of the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains. The Rhododendron Trail is wheel chair accessible at stop #3. Stop #5 gives you the chance to climb about 5 minutes up to Cocke's Comb, an unusual rock formation. Use caution in enjoying this area. Stop #6 takes you the North Mountain Overlook. To reach the trails from Lexington take I-64 west to exit #43; turn left off the ramp, go straight to FDR 447. Upon entering there is a kiosk on the right with a map.
North Mountain Trail – Follows the tip of North Mountain in Rockbridge to the Longdale Recreation area 9.5 miles. This walk takes you along rock outcroppings and cliffs, nice views of Lake Robertson and the Lexington area. Requires two cars or can be done as an out and back for just a few miles on the mountaintop. Can be reached by taking I-64 West of Lexington to Exit #43, turn left on ramp, straight onto FDR 447, 6.7 miles to parking area at intersection of Rt. 770 and FDR 447. Difficult.
Rich Hole Wilderness Area – 6,450 acres located 18 miles west of Lexington on Rt. 850 (off Rt. 60 west). Upper Rich Hole Trail Head located just across the Rockbridge County Line at the top of the mountain with a parking lot on your right. There is a kiosk with area map. Best if two cars are used to save a walk back up Rt. 850. The trail is also accessed off FS108 on down SR 850 west 3.6 miles on right. Park and walk 1.5 mile to lower trail head. There are 15 creek crossings over North Creek, a 6' wide native trout stream, and there are some nice views and abundant wildlife. 5.8 miles long one way. Moderate to Difficult.
Volkssport Association Sanctioned Walk – A year-round walking event through Lexington's Historic downtown district, residential district and the Woods Creek Trail. Walk begins at the Lexington Visitor Center, 106 E. Washington Street. 6 miles in length round trip. Moderate.
Wildcat Mountain Trail – Loops from the camping area at Cave Mountain Lake climbing 2700 feet on Wildcat Mountain. The trail is four miles over rough terrain. To reach the trail from Lexington, follow Rt. 11 South to Rt. 130 east. Turn right on Rt. 759. Turn right on Rt. 781. Difficult.
Woods Creek Trail – Located inside the Lexington City Limits, this well-maintained trail is a nice 3-4 mile roundtrip jog or hike along a scenic shaded stream. From Main Street turn right on Jordan Street. Waddell Elementary School will be 5 blocks west on the left. Park at the school. The trail is behind the school. Easy.