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This 122-mile Mountain Road Trip Through Virginia and West Virginia Has Charming Small Towns, Beautiful Hiking Trails, and Outdoor Adventures

This 122-mile Mountain Road Trip Through Virginia and West Virginia Has Charming Small Towns, Beautiful Hiking Trails, and Outdoor Adventures

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Between the Blue Ridge Mountains of Roanoke, Virginia, and the New River Gorge of West Virginia lies a scenic, 122-mile journey that’s perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway. Here’s what to see and do along the way,

Start in West Virginia. 

The combination of New River Gorge hiking and the quaint historical town of Lewisburg makes this the perfect kickoff to an epic road trip. Shopkeepers offer warm greetings along with ice cream, antiques, and stylish cowgirl hats, and events like the Lewisburg Literary Festival, held every August, bring the community and visitors together.

History abounds here, and the best way to soak it all in is on the Lewisburg Historic District Walking Tour. It includes a whopping 58 sites like The Barracks, a three-story stone and log structure that’s the oldest building in Lewisburg, built around 1789. 

Visit the Historic General Lewis Inn and sidle up to the lobby bar, The Thistle Lounge, where you can enjoy artisanal cocktails made from lesser-known liquors and tinctures. If your plans include an overnight stay, the inn, with its creaky wooden floors and homey guest rooms, is central to all things Lewisburg. 

The most popular nearby attraction is New River Gorge, a whitewater river rushing through a deep canyon. Visitors flock here to hike, bike, fish, ride the rapids, and enjoy bird-watching. You can also ride horses on the Greenbrier River Trail, which offers stunning scenery. Note: Cell phone coverage is nonexistent in these parts, so prepare for unencumbered peace. 

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, settle in for dinner at The French Goat. Order a burger and the root vegetable side dish — a delicious example of French and Appalachian fusion. 

Related: 10 Best Mountain Towns in Virginia, According to Locals

Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism

Hike, tube, and sip your way through Christiansburg and Blacksburg, Virginia.

Drive less than two hours on U.S. 219 S and U.S. 460 E to the home of Virginia Tech, Jefferson National Forest, world-class tubing, and a bevy of breweries. Stretch your legs on the Huckleberry Trail, which connects Christiansburg and Blacksburg. Its many branches provide 15 miles of options, and one of the best is the ADA-accessible, 1.5-mile loop at Coal Mining Heritage Park. Or, visit Jefferson National Forest and hike the one-mile loop from Pandapas Pond, choosing your adventure among varying Poverty Creek trails. 

For a family experience and a chance to view the scenic mountain ranges from the water, try tubing at New River Junction. It’s a lazy float over gentle, shallow waters, so everyone from the kids to grandpa can participate. Order a cooler tube so you can sip cold beverages on the ride.

Further quench your thirst with the six craft beers brewed at Southwest Virginia’s oldest brewery, Bull & Bones Brewhaus & Grill. If vino is your vibe, Beliveau Farm Winery pours award-winning wines like Crazy Professor Vidal Blanc. And if you enjoy both beer and wine, you’re in luck as Beliveau operates the only gluten-free brewery in Virginia. 

If you’re having so much fun that you don’t want to leave, stay at The Inn at Virginia Tech. Soak up campus life, peruse the galleries at Moss Arts Center, and stroll the floral walkways at Hahn Horticulture Garden. 

Related: This West Virginia Region Has Epic National Parks, Charming Small Towns, and Spas With Natural Mineral Baths

Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism

Shop, learn, and explore in Roanoke, Virginia. 

The largest city on the Appalachian Trail, Roanoke is just a 40-minute drive north on Interstate 81. Known for its hiking and biking trails, Roanoke became Instagram-famous when trekkers standing on the jagged precipice of McAfee Knob made it the most photographed spot on the route. If walking isn’t your thing, opt for a customizable e-bike tour with Roanoke Mountain Adventures, where you’ll choose the path and length that best match your ability.  

Exploring the newly revitalized downtown Roanoke is a must. Start at the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, where the contributions of people of the African diaspora are highlighted. Sit and ponder the recently unveiled statue of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were used for medical research without her consent. 

Next, spend some time at Black Dog Salvage, home of TV’s Salvage Dawgs, where they reclaim and repurpose architectural waste into one-of-a-kind home goods. Wander the warehouse showroom, peek into the workshop, and take home a souvenir from the Star City. On the third Sunday of each month, Black Dog Salvage hosts the Dog Bowl Market, featuring local musicians, vendors, and artisans of handmade, upcycled products.

If you’re staying a night or two, hang your hat at Fire Station One, a 100-year-old fire station that reopened in 2023 as a boutique hotel. While you won’t be able to slide down a fireman’s pole, you can stay in one of seven unique rooms and dine at the in-house Stock Cafe, which serves Nordic and Scandinavian fare. Or, spend the night in the converted bank building, The Liberty Trust, completed in 2022. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and offers on-site dining and cocktails at The Vault. 

Finally, finish your trip with a hearty sigh and a nod to John Denver, who accurately dubbed this neck of the woods “almost heaven.”

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