Summer in Lexington
On sunny days, top adventure destinations include the summits of House Mountain, the trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the boulders at Devils Marbleyard. Route 39 through Goshen Pass is a gorgeous cycling route, where rocky views of the river unfurl beside you. Several regional ski resorts open up their trails for hiking and mountain biking. For a full list of trails, paddling locations, and fishing spots visit Rockbridge Outdoors.
With sunny skies, warm temperatures, and blooming wildflowers, spring and summer are a great time to hike in Rockbridge County. The aptly named Devils Marbleyard is a life-list destination for hikers across Virginia. An easy 1.5-mile walk on the Belfast Trail brings you to the base of the marbleyard, a field of granite boulders sprawled across a mountain slope not far from Natural Bridge State Park. Bring your grippiest hiking boots to explore these quartzite wonders – some are as big as a car.
The final stretch of trail to the 3,645ft summit of Big House Mountain is steep and unforgiving. But glimpses of the surrounding countryside should ease the pain as you ascend through the trees. The Little House Mountain Trail twists up the western slope of Little House then beelines to an overlook with a fine view of Lexington. If you can’t make it up to the summits, end with a picnic in the Saddle, a meadow between the two peaks. Little House Mountain is Lexington’s patron peak and a familiar site from downtown.
The white-blazed Appalachian Trail (AT) runs beside the Blue Ridge Parkway above Rockbridge County. Deer sightings along the AT are almost guaranteed. For a half-day hike with views of House Mountain, park south of milepost 51 on the Parkway then hike to the summit of 3,372ft Bluff Mountain, where a fire tower once stood. From Bluff Mountain, the AT continues south to the James River. The trail stretches 544 miles across the state. Note that the Blue Ridge Parkway closes when ice and snow are on the road. Check the parkway website for closures before setting out.
Beauty and adventure are in cahoots along the Rich Hole Wilderness Trail in the Rich Hole Wilderness. Expect creek crossings, rock outcroppings, and small waterfalls along the way. Wildlife spotting is also a highlight, with bears, bobcats and turkeys checking out the scene. The hiking isn’t as adventurous on the short Laurel Run Trail in Goshen Pass, but it’s a pleasant place to stretch your legs after the drive from Lexington.
Cyclists tout the beauty of the region’s backroads, which ribbon alongside mountains, rivers, and forests. The 50-mile loop between Goshen Pass and Lexington is a regional favorite, and its scenic spin through the Goshen Pass gorge on Highway 39 immerses cyclists in a kaleidoscopic display of trees, rocks, and cascades.
For an extremely challenging workout, try the 4-mile climb on Route 56 from Vesuvius to the Blue Ridge Parkway instead. Considered the toughest leg of the TransAmerica Trail, this monster - which reaches a grade of 24% - is not for the timid. And did somebody say Blue Ridge Parkway? We hate to brag, but the prettiest section of this beloved 469-mile byway runs along the border of Rockbridge County.
Paddles & Floats
The Maury River received the remainder of its Virginia Scenic River designation in spring 2022, meaning from the beginning to the end and into the Upper James River Water Trail, you're floating and paddling a beautiful treasure. Put-in points include Jordan's Point Park in downtown Lexington, a swimming hole at Ben Salem Wayside between Lexington and Buena Vista, and of course, Glen Maury Park. Farther down, Locher Landing in Glasgow is a great short-connect point to the James River.
Adventurers do more than hike and paddle. Just ask the fly fishing enthusiasts, who practice the art of patience as they stalk native brook trout in the region’s cold mountain creeks. John Roberts Fly Fishing, based out of Lexington, offers guided fishing trips year round.