Step Outside - Virginia WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - Virginia 144 144 Sat, 20 Oct 2018 04:27:38 -0500 Best Places to Fish in the East This Fall A smorgasbord of baitfish is served up to striped bass in the fall as they make their way south along the Atlantic coast from Maine to their wintering waters in the mid-Atlantic.

Hot Spots To Fish: Deservedly, Montauk, NY at the eastern end of Long Island is considered a storied mecca for striped bass fishermen. If you’re not going surf fishing on the beach or fishing from a jetty, Gone Fishing Marina (631-668-3232, can set up a charter trip for you. If it’s booked up, try Star Island Yacht Club (631-668-5052, or Montauk Marine Basin (631-668-5900,

Down south, talk to the folks at Captain Hogg’s Charter Service (757-876-1590, about fishing around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Overdrawn Charters  (252-202-4623, in Manteo, N.C. can help as well.

Tackle You’ll Need: Stick with 30- to 50-pound braid or monofilament and a 60-pound-test shock leader of fluorocarbon, with saltwater-ready spinning tackle heavy enough to handle 10- to 14-foot rods. Penn, Quantum and Okuma specialize in fairly inexpensive surf-fishing rods, and reels to match. If you have a reel, but no rod yet, the new Black Inshore Rods from Lamiglas are up to the task. The five spinning and five casting models range from a 6-foot, 10-inch light finesse spinning rod to a 7 ½-foot casting rod rated for lures from 3 to 12 ounces in weight.

Quick tip: The most successful anglers are those who spot gulls or other wheeling seabirds feeding on baitfish driven to the top by stripers and who then cast into the melee without dispersing the bass. From a boat, the trick is to approach schools carefully and take advantage of wind or tide to drift to within casting range. The stripers will stay up as long as the baitfish are hemmed against the surface.


Best Lures/Baits: The 4 1/2-inch Acme Kastmater XL spoon, the 1 ½-ounce Odin Popper, and the 5-inch pencil popper from Tsunami are popular artificials up and down the Atlantic seaboard. Other popular options include the 6- or 7-inch Savage Gear Sandeel Swimbait, 9-inch Sassy Shad swimbait and the 6-inch Rapala X-Rap SubWalk.

For anglers who’d rather soak baits from a boat or in the surf, live or cut bait, such as Atlantic menhaden (peanut bunker), herring, porgies, eels, bloodworms, anchovies and mullet, can flip the switch on chaotic striper blitzes.

Photograph Courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism The classic approach to surf fishing is still a great way to take advantage of the striper run along the Atlantic coast. Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Best Places to Fish in the South This Fall Redfish are starting to move inshore and set up at the mouths of bays, inlets and deltas as their annual spawning run commences. The bottom line for fishermen is outstanding fishing from late September through November in the northern Gulf.

Likewise, bass fishing is starting to pick up again as the weather begins to cool. Huge schools of threadfin shad are starting to filter away from open-water ledges into bays and tributaries where feeding conditions and water temperatures are more optimum.

Bass follow the food, first setting up on ledges at the mouths of inlets and creeks to waylay shad, then migrating back toward shallower water to keep up with their quarry.

Fall Script for Southern Bass

Bass rule in Dixie and cooler weather brings out an army of anglers who go after them. Whether largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass, they’re available in most waters and sometimes all three varieties are present in a fishery, ready to aggravate or gratify those who seek them.

Hot Spots To Fish: When it comes to the South’s best lakes for fall fishing, the big TVA impoundments fit the bill. Because this is bass tournament country, dozens of YouTube videos and Facebook sites of pro anglers offer useful advice on where and how to catch autumn largemouths. Likewise, guide services are plentiful; just Google “fishing guides” for the lake you’re visiting or type in the town nearest the lake you wish to fish on the interactive map on this page.

Tackle You’ll Need: A 7-foot medium/heavy rod such as the St. Croix Premier Cranking, a baitcasting reel like the Abu Garcia Revo Winch and 10- to 14-pound-test monofilament makes a good combination to fish downsized lures.

Quick tip: This is strictly a match-the-hatch deal. Use lures that are about the same size as wandering shad. If young-of-the-year threadfins are on the bass menu, try small swim baits fished on drop-shot rigs.


Best Lures/Baits: Shad-colored, shallow- and medium-diving square-billed or coffin-billed crankbaits are autumn standouts. Popular lures include the Strike King 6XD, Bandit 100 or 200, Duo Realis M65, Livetarget Magnum Shad BaitBall Squarebill, Megabass S-Crank, Lucky Craft Squarebill 2.5, Storm Arashi and Rapala Shad Rap.

Fish them around shoreline cover and on the flats between creek drop-offs and the bank. Other fallback baits include spinnerbaits like the Booyah Super Shad, Stanley Vibrashaft and Nichols Pulsator. Good buzzbait options can be found from Lunker Lure, Damiki, Santone and Dirty Jigs.

Rendezvous With Redfish

Along the northern Gulf Coast from Carrabelle, FL, to Grand Isle, LA, the redfish season begins in late September and continues in stages through December. Some anglers fish in the surf with cut bait, while others station themselves on area piers or in boats on relatively shallow flats near channel cuts.

Hot Spots To Fish: For boating anglers, a couple of spots stick out. Pensacola Bay Pass is a must-fish for boaters. Anchor up on the broad flat between old Fort Pickens and the channel, set out lines as the tide changes to incoming, and hang on. Need more help? Redfish University Pensacola Fishing Charters (850-748-4368, specializes in the big drum.

At Grand Isle, LA, book a trip with Gotta Go Fishing Charters (225-921-3642, The marshes and inshore waters around Venice, LA, are primo redfish haunts as well. Captain Mike Frenette (504-782-0924, or ( is a top guide here.

Photograph Courtesy of Strike King Lure Company 
Louisiana’s coastal waters are ground zero for the hottest autumn redfish action along the northern Gulf Coast. A variety of natural baits and artificials get the job done.

Tackle You’ll Need: “Rat” reds of 3 pounds and up, or real bruisers weighing in excess of 20 pounds require a range of tackle options. Bass fishing tackle – whether spinning or baitcasting – is perfect for handling smaller fish and for casting jigs or swimbaits that weigh less than an ounce. A Shimano Stradic spinning reel and 7-foot medium-action Shimano Compre rod with 14-pound-test monofilament.

For bigger fish, consider a Penn Battle II BTLII5000 with 20-pound-test monofilament or 40-pound-test braid, and a 30-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. A 7-foot medium-heavy spinning rod (such as the Penn Battalion BATIN1220S70) should handle any bait rigs or lures and wear down a bull redfish in short order.

Quick Tip: Incoming tides in late evening or at night are primo times for reds as the fish free-spawn then in the mouths of coastal bays and estuaries. If you can’t fish any other time, make sure you fish the incoming tides.


Best Lures/Baits: Redfish aren’t particular about their dietary requirements and will eat anything from blue crabs to halved mullet. Swimming spoons such as the Johnson Sprite (, swimbaits and jigs or even topwater poppers, such as the Heddon Saltwater Spook, will elicit strikes.

Photograph Courtesy of Strike King Lure Company Photo By Garrick Dixon Shallow- to medium-running crankbaits probably account for more bass than any other lure in the fall when the fish are on the prowl for shad in feeder creeks and coves. Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in Virginia The leaves are changing, pumpkins are growing, and cideries are cranking. That can only mean one thing: Fall is almost here. While we’re sad to see summer go, we couldn’t be more excited to dive into all of the incredible outdoor fall activities Virginia has to offer. From fear forests to guided hikes and sandcastle greatness, we’ve got big plans. Here are the best fall activities to check out in Virginia! 

Part of the greater Neptune Festival held annually in Virginia Beach, the Sand Sculpture Festival attracts sculptors from around the world who showcase their talents with mind-blowing sand sculptures. We’re not talking about your average sand castle here, kids. We’re talking life-like pirates and fortresses that would make Winterfell blush. This is a must-see fall activity.

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See the Blue Ridge Mountains like never before from the gorgeous 105-mile path known as Skyline Drive. Boasting 75 scenic overlooks, no matter where you choose to stop you’ll be treated to dazzling colors and picturesque views. 

One of the best corn mazes in the state, Hess’s Corn Maze is a Shenandoah Valley-area favorite. Hess’s offers a wonderful corn maze in addition to pumpkin patch picking and more. It’s a perfect outing for the entire family. 

One of Virginia’s premiere Halloween experiences, Busch Garden’s Howl-o-Scream delights and frights from mid-September 15 through late October. Enjoy haunted houses, escape rooms, live shows, and outdoor scare zones while you get into the holiday spirit.

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Cair Paravel Farm offers many lodging accommodations, including yurts, a greenhouse, and a vintage 1986 Airstream among the trees. According to their website, “the magnificent deck brings you into the trees and treats you to incredible seasonal views.” For those looking for a unique camping experience, you won’t get much more unique than this. 

With beautiful waterfront views and activities, picnic shelters, lodges, cabins, and more, Lake Anna State Park is a beautiful place to camp in the fall. The opportunities for hiking, fishing, boating, and horseback riding makes this a great destination for everyone.  

Experience all fall has to offer at the Outdoorsman Park and ATV Trails in Martinsville, Virginia. Open on the weekends, you can take your off-road vehicle out to drive on their trails or consider fishing at their on-site catfish pond. It’s $15 per machine per day and $5 per day for catch and release fishing. 

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The Appalachian Trail is massive, but a decent chunk of it resides in Virginia’s back yard. Not sure where to begin? That’s where Excihiking Treks comes in. According to their website, they delight in helping hikers “camp near mountain streams in pristine forest; find fossils, go sightseeing, backpacking, kayaking, and much more!” What more could you ask for in a guide company?

Bold Rock Cidery takes full advantage of its location in beautiful Nellysford, Virginia. Upon arriving at the cidery, visitors are greeted to dazzling mountain views and tasty hard cider. Check out their website for an updated calendar of events to better time your visit, or simply stop by to appreciate the cool fall breeze with a delicious drink.

Throughout the year, Cox Farm is a working farm. But during the fall, it transforms into the terrifying Fields of Fear! Take a hay ride before experiencing the Lost Circus, Clown Chaos, bonfires, fear games, and more. Be sure to check their site to view their hours before planning your spooky trip.

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Hurricane Florence: {local_state_full} Shelters, Safety Tips and Resources. Formed by an intense tropical wave off the west coast of Africa, Hurricane Florence is now positioned to devastate the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Delaware. 

As the storm approaches, it is crucial to properly prepare and follow protocol set into place by your local officials. 

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has ordered a mandatory evacuation of several coastal counties, click here to see if your area is being evacuated. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has also ordered mandatory evacuations for coastal counties, click here to see if you reside in one of these counties. 

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has declared a State of Emergency for all 159 Georgia counties.  

Governor Ralph Northam has issued a mandatory evacuation for Zone A in Coastal Virginia. 

Governor Larry Hogan has declared a state of emergency for Maryland and Governor Jim Justice has declared a State of Preparedness for West Virginia

Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency for Washington, D.C.

Delaware has not delcared a state of emergency, but keep up with the latest on the DEMA website.  

Utilize a gas tracker to find the nearest available fuel, as some stations are running low. Be sure to follow road signs and not your GPS when evacuating.

It is important to be prepared. Be sure to check FEMA’s key safety tips. They have an app that you can download for your phone, as well. There are also a variety of other sources such as the National Hurricane CenterSave the and American Red Cross to aid you in finding shelter, food and water, emergency supply kits, and helping your children to cope with the impact of the storm. Stay updated with the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards to follow the trajectory of Hurricane Florence.

To find shelters near you text SHELTER and a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA). For example, SHELTER 12345. You can also find a list of shelters from the following resources:

Register yourself as being safe and well or find missing loved ones:'s Hurricane Resources:

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Camping Done Right: 10 Best Outdoor Stores in Virginia Virginia is for campers as much as it is for lovers—it’s practically our second credo. For your next big camping trip, make sure to stock up with the latest and greatest equipment at any of the following 10 best camping gear stores in the state! 

River Rock Outfitter has been serving the fine people of Fredericksburg since 2014. They provide locally-owned supplies for kayaking, paddle boarding, fly fishing, climbing, hiking, yoga, and camping. 

North River Outdoors, an Ashland, Virginia, sells survival, tactical, and camping gear. Camping equipment includes tents, flashlights, airbeds, and much more. You’ll find everything you’ll ever need for a camping trip at his shop. 

Back Country Ski and Sport services the Salem and Blacksburg, Virginia, areas, with one location in each. They stock hiking, backpacking, skiing, winter sports, and camping equipment. Not ready to make the investment to buy your own stuff? Consider renting from their rental shop.

Outdoor Trails has one location in Daleville and another in Lynchburg, Virginia. Both locations focus on selling outdoor equipment and clothes and typically have excellent sales. They stock a wide variety of well-known brands, including the North Face, Sierra Designs, Marmot, and more.

Mountain Trails in Winchester, Virginia, is a family owned and operated outdoors equipment shop. Their products include clothing, equipment, footwear, and climbing essentials. Take a look at their wide selection of brand name tents and other equipment from Marmot, Big Agnes , and more.

Our gear wall is full again! #mountaintrailsva #gearproblems #rockclimbing

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The Great Outdoor Provision Co. has a few Virginia locations, including one in Virginia Beach and Charlottesville. They sell men and women’s clothing, accessories, footwear, camping equipment, and more. Camping equipment includes tents, packs, sleeping bags, hydration, and camp kitchen equipment from popular brands like Yeti

Field & Steam is one of the oldest outdoor equipment stores around and has two locations in Virginia. If you’re lucky enough to visit one of their locations, you’ll find a vast array of camping gear and hunting essentials from brands like Yeti, Under Armour, and more. We’re particularly partial to the Camp Chef Camp Oven Pizza Stone.

Walkabout Outfitter is one of the bigger, yet still-local outdoor shops in Virginia, with six locations throughout the Commonwealth. While primarily focused on hiking, they stock all of the best brands for camping equipment, too, including the North Face, Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, and more. 

Backcountry in Christiansburg, Virginia, may be the ideal camping gear store. They sell tents, shelters, sleeping equipment, packs, furniture, hydration, lighting, essentials, navigation, and even dog accessories. Brands include Therm-a-Rest, Marmot, Eureka!, and much more.

Casual Adventure in Arlington, Virginia, stocks Thule, Eureka!, Silva, and many more excellent camping brands. Their sleeping bags, water treatment gear, footwear, and more will ensure that your next camping trip is a rousing good time. 

Show some ❤️ for the team at Casual Adventure!! 👍

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5 Gorgeous Beach Campsites in Virginia Virginia has glorious waterfront campsites all along its eastern seaboard. Waiting for you at these campsites are an abundance of water recreation opportunities, stunning views, and lasting memories. From Virginia Beach on up, you’ll find any number of state parks and private campsites. Find five of our favorite below.

False Cape State Park near Virginia Beach, Virginia, boasts six miles of beaches and 12 primitive campsites. Experience life as it might have been in centuries gone-by on this preserved campground by the beach. Book your room online with plenty of time in advance, as it often sells out. 

Chippokes Plantation State Park runs along the James River, which is available for freshwater fishing and boating. Camping facilities include one, two, and three-room cabins, which must be reserved ahead of time, and the campground. The campground has two loops, and each can accommodate a fair amount of RVs, tents, and pop-ups. 

Naylor’s Beach Campground offers wondrous views of the Rappahannock River. The folks at Naylor’s do their best to make the campground inviting for families and pets. The campground includes a boat ramp, general store, electric and water hookups, bath house with showers, sandy beach, designated swimming area, and more. 

Kiptopeke State Park provides fantastic access to the Chesapeake Bay. The park itself offers two and three-bedroom cabins, along with six-bedroom lodges, RV and tent camping, a yurt, and a bunkhouse. Amenities include boat ramp access, fishing pier, picnic areas, and much more.

The Chincoteague Island KOA offers all of the amenities that make KOA great camping options. Besides being located on the beach, the site has over 400 RV sites, deluxe cabins, and tent sites across 200 acres. KOA is only five minutes away from Assateague Island National Seashore, “famous for its long strands of undeveloped sandy beaches and wild horses that roam” there. 

oliveromg/ Tue, 14 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Beautiful Backpack Camping Spots in Virginia With lush forests, wetlands, and mountainous regions, Virginia is a haven for primitive camping. If you’re looking for an adventure deep within nature and an opportunity to camp under the vast open skies of the Old Dominion, we’ve got you covered. Here are five beautiful backpack camping spots in Virginia. 

John H. Kerr Reservoir takes up over 70,000 acres, including shoreline, a 50,000-acre lake, and woods. Fill your backpack and make a weekend out of camping in any of their 249 primitive campground sites while you explore the area.

The Big Meadows Campground in Madison County, Virginia, is near many fantastic hiking trails and viewing spots. Make sure to explore the area and stop by the three waterfalls within walking distance. Campsites are available on a first-come first-served basis, but you can make reservations ahead of time for some. Walk-in sites, along with other kinds, are available.

The Grayson Highlands State Park has tons of camping options, but those interested in primitive camping should make sure to reserve a spot. There is also group camping available. Because this is a highly popular horseback riding and camping location, the primitive camping area is centralized in a stable area campground.  

The Chickahominy Riverfront Park in Williamsburg, Virginia, is known for its beautiful riverfront views and water recreation. Backpackers are welcome to camp in any of the many tents-only camping spots throughout the park. Reservations may be made up to a year in advance.

Horseshoe Flats Campground in Scottsville, Virginia, is a family-owned and operated campground with tons of primitive tent sites, perfect for backpackers. Campers will enjoy the waterfront views and tours to local vineyards and breweries. 

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5 Awesome Campgrounds for Families in Virginia Planning a family camping trip? Virginia has one of the most varied and beautiful landscapes of any state in the U.S. Whether you’ve got your own RV camper or plan to rough it in a tent, making sure your family has a safe, clean, and comfortable place to call home-base is of utmost importance. Below you will find five great campgrounds suitable for families across the state, each ready and willing to make your trip one to remember! 

Big Bear Family Campground in Windsor, Virginia, has everything a young family might need. The site itself has ample water, electric, and sewer hookups for comfort. Kids will love the 10-acre private fishing lake, usable without a license. The in-ground swimming pool, playground with sandbox, volleyball net, and swing set provide entertainment options. The wooded trails around the area are easy-going for youngsters. Located within an hour of Historic Williamsburg, Historic Smithfield, and Virginia Beach, you couldn’t ask for a better home base for a family campground than Big Bear.

Cozy Acres Family Campground has been the passion project of the Daniel’s family since 1974. The facilities include RV campsites, a trading post convenience store, quaint cottages for rent, a charming clubhouse, and a plethora of activities. On any given weekend, activities could include fireworks, corn hole, car shoes, or seasonal events, like pumpkin carving. The natural beauty of the park is hard to overstate. Cozy Acres has it all. 

Everyone says the same things about North Bay: it’s clean, the staff is friendly, and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Open during the spring, summer, and early fall months, North Bay in Virginia Beach has campsites with electric, water, and sewer hookups, cabins for rent, restrooms, private showers, swimming pool, fresh water fishing, boat and canoe rentals, a recreation hall, and more. The location is not to be understated. The site is within 20 minutes of Oceana Naval Air Station, the Marine Science Museum, Virginia Beach boardwalk, Cape Henry Lighthouse, Tide’s Baseball Park, among others. For a vacation to Virginia Beach, North Bay Shore is a fantastic option.

The Shenandoah Valley is one of the most beautiful and serene areas in the entire state, and there’s no better way to introduce the kids to nature than at Shenandoah Family Campground. The location provides families with the ability to tour the rest of the valley and to see the Blue Ridge Mountains, Luray Caverns, and varied wildlife. Activities on-site include Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day weekend events, consisting of movies, games, a karaoke, and a cookout. The campsite is open year-round with amenities including a camp store, snack bar, amp service, water, electric and sewer at all sites, bath house, restroom, laundry, dog run, Wi-Fi, fire rings, and much more.  

What’s more magical than camping by the beach? Chincoteague Island KOA boasts 400 RV sites, tent sites, and deluxe cabins situated on 200 acres. Participate in themed weekends and other family-friendly activities. The area also features a playground, an activity room, kayaking, a food truck, and a tiki bar for when the adults want to escape for a drink. If you visit in July, you just might get to witness the annual, world-famous Chincoteague Island Pony Swim. On the last Wednesday in July, wild Chincoteague ponies are herded across the Assateague Channel, and a carnival event immediately follows. If you’re saying at Chincoteague Island KOA, you’ll get a free trolley ride to and from the event! 

Lucky Business/ Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome RV Campsites in Virginia Steeped in history and culture, Virginia is one of the most exciting states to visit on vacation. Whether you prefer the beaches to the east or the Shenandoah Valley in the north, you won’t find a better place to make new memories with your family and friends. These five great RV campsites will help you become better acquainted with the Old Dominion. 

Outlanders River Camp in Luray, Virginia, is located along the Shenandoah River, surrounded by the Blue Ride and Massanutten mountains. Outlanders offers 33 full hook-up RV sites, 20 primitive camping sites, five electrical tent sites, and 10 tent sites called “Hog-Pens.” You won’t find many 21st century amenities at Outlanders, as the owners have chosen instead to highlight their natural surroundings. If you’re looking for a true nature getaway, then Outlanders might be right for you.

Fort Chiswell RV Park offers visitors full RV hook-ups for any size motorhome. Enjoy the heated pool or go for a hike. Stop by the game room or start a game of basketball. If you’d like to fish, the pond on-site has bass and catfish. Internet access, picnic area, and playground liven things up. Nearby amenities include miniature golf and river rafting.

Lake Ridge RV Resort in Hillsville, Virginia, stands out by hosting unique themed weekends during peak season, like Hawaiian Weekend, Christmas in July, Pirates and Princesses, and others. In addition, Lake Ridge has full hook-up access for most kinds of RVs, including electrical, TV, Wi-Fi, and concrete pads. Stop by the rope courses, water slides, craft area, or recreation room for the full Lake Ridge experience.

Bethpage has been named the “Best RV Resort in the Nation” and has won the “National Park of the Year” award three times, given by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. Everything about Bethpage lends to a luxurious stay. From their website: “From the moment you drive through our front gate you’ll know you have arrived somewhere special! The sprawling water park greets you to the right. The beautiful fresh water lake, beach, and aqua trampoline catching your eye to the left.” The water park, mini golf, aqua jump, and river cruises are just a few of the awesome activities offered to their guests.

The American Heritage RV Park allows you to experience historic Colonial Williamsburg like never before. Eight miles from historic Williamsburg, the park is also close to Jamestown, Yorktown, Water Country USA, and Busch Gardens. The park itself has 70 acres of woodlands with pull-throughs, full hook-ups, and concrete patios. If you’re visiting Virginia’s historic triangle, the American Heritage Site is the perfect place to put home base. 

alicja neumiler/ Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in Virginia No matter where you find yourself in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you’re never far from an outstanding hiking trail. Mountains. Valleys. Beaches. Lakes. Oceans. Virginia has all kinds of excellent hiking and sightseeing terrain. Below, you’ll find five of the most scenic to get you started. 

The Shenandoah National Park is an American treasure. The park boasts over 200,000 acres of protected land, providing a home for songbirds, deer, and pristine hiking conditions. Avid hikers will argue over the best trailheads throughout the park, but everyone can agree that Hawksbill is among them. The first suggested hike is a moderately difficult, two-hour-long, 2.9-mile circuit loop that’ll take you along the Appalachian Trail to the summit of the mountain. For a slightly easier hike, take the Lower Hawksbill approach. It is 1.7 miles roundtrip, and last just over an hour. At 4,501 feet, Hawksbill offers one of the most gorgeous views in the entire park. Make sure to keep an eye out for the Shenandoah salamander, an endangered species found only in the Shenandoah National Park. 

Take the Rock Castle Gorge National Recreational Trail in Floyd, Virginia, for a 10.8-mile loop with elevation ranges between 1,700 and 3,500 feet. Along the path, you’ll find 200 varieties of wildflowers, rhododendron, meadows, and streams. The trail can be strenuous, so make sure you’re bringing those who can handle a more difficult hike. Having said that, the trail is family-friendly and features historical structures along the path.

As one of the most photographed spots along the Appalachian Trail, no Virginia hiking list would be complete without recommending McAfee Knob. With a 270-degree panoramic view of the Catawba Valley, North Mountain, Tinker Cliffs, and Roanoke Valley, you’re in for some of the best views in Shenandoah. Get ready for a steep climb with an elevation of 1,700 feet and 4.4 miles, but the views are absolutely worth it.

Breaks Interstate Park in Breaks, Virginia, sits on the Virginia/Kentucky border, and is home to a five-mile gorge nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the South.” The park has seven trails ranging from easy to difficult, most of which are self-guided. Bird watchers, try out the Ridge Trail. For those interested in the best canyon views, check out the Overlook Trail. The Overlook Trail is characterized by frequent grade changes. While the trail is only .75 miles-long, it is quite difficult. The views of the canyon, however, are stunning.

The Cape Henry Trail in Virginia Beach, Virginia, covers seven miles in First Landing State Park. The elevation gain is only 36 feet, and the trail is quite doable for almost any level of hiker. Mix it up with any of the multiple side trails. Keep in mind, the Cape Henry Trail is one of Virginia Beach’s most popular hiking spots, and it can get busy during the summer and on weekends. 

chrisukphoto/ Fri, 10 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Energizing Hikes in Virginia Virginian hikers enjoy many of the most rewarding trails on the East Coast. When it comes to upping the ante and pushing yourself on a more challenging hike, the options are endless. Next time you’re looking to push yourself, check out these five energizing hikes in Virginia. 

Raven Rocks Trail can be reached via the Appalachian Trail in Bluemont, Virginia. Raven Rocks covers just over five miles, but has an intense, 1,600-foot elevation gain. Locals call this trail “the roller-coaster” for its winding, up and down ridges.

The Shenandoah National Park is home to over 500 miles of hiking trails, but one of the best is the Rose River Falls trail. At just about 2.5 miles round-trip, this moderate loop includes a majestic waterfall and is accessible year-round. Expect just over 700 feet of elevation gain and some steep hills.

For the next trail, we're going to start out on the Appalachian Trail and head up to Spy Rock, referred to as "the best viewpoint in the central Blue Ridge" by the official Virginia state website. The hike is described as "moderately strenuous," and with almost 4,000 feet of elevation, you're sure to get a good workout. But the 360-degree panoramic view at the top will be well-worth the extra effort. 

Explore the nearly 5.5 miles of the James River North Bank and Buttermilk trails to discover Richmond’s natural side. The trail is moderately difficult. Get ready for hills overlooking the beautiful James River.

The Fountainhead Regional Park is home to the Fountainhead Trails, a series of trails that cover roughly 2,000 acres. The route is a loop with hilly terrain. Expect many steep descents and climbs but enough straightaways in between to recover nicely. 

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7 Best Trail Running Spots in Virginia Trail runners in Virginia have an embarrassment of riches to choose from. Should you head to the beach and the oft-sighted First Landing State Park? Or what about the Shenandoah Valley, one of the most gorgeous locations on planet earth? Below, we’ve highlighted seven awesome, lesser-known trail running spots in Virginia for your running pleasure. 

The Preddy Creek Trail Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, is over 570 acres in total, 10 miles of which are reserved for hiking, running, biking, and horseback riding. The wooded park has easy topography, allowing you to go at your own pace and enjoy the scenery.

One of the lesser-traversed parks in the Richmond area, Powhite nonetheless offers wonderful natural trails with gorgeous foliage and abundant wildlife. Runners, watch out for other hikers, birdwatchers, dog walkers, and bikers.


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Prince William Forest has over 47 miles of hiking trails on its 15,000 acres. The trails are of varying difficulty and terrain, with some cutting through wetlands and most through forests. Runners, consider the Laurel Loop Trail to start. You’ll likely come back over and over again. 

The Freedom Park in Williamsburg sits on over 600 acres of forested land, with around two miles of multi-use trails. The park is steeped in history, with notable sites dating back to the 1650s. 

Located on the Potomac River, Great Falls Park will make your invigorating run a lot more relaxing with all of its scenic sights. If you’re looking for an easier trek, try out the 1.5-mile Ridge Trail, rated from “easy to moderate.” This trail is popular among hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders. 

#winterwalk #greatfalls #nature #treepath #beautifulday #virginiaisforlovers

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For an incomparable summer jog, head to First Landing State Park. Try out the moderately-rated Bald Cypress Trail at 1.8 miles-long. This trail is among the most popular in the park and boasts a picturesque boardwalk swamp overview. Enjoy the spectacular sights of bald cypress swamps and other breathtaking natural features. 

A rare sight of me running. Captured by @clayhaynerphoto

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Encompassing a portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park provides limitless opportunity for exploration. If you’re in the mood for a jog that will help you clear your head, try the Jones Run Falls route in the Loft Mountain Area. Roundtrip, the trek is 3.4 miles with a steady incline of 915 feet. And there is a real treat on this hike: a magnificent 42-foot waterfall enveloped in rocks, moss, and bushes. Shenandoah’s official site describes the waterfall as a “jewel.”  

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7 Best Birdwatching Hikes in Virginia Virginia’s diverse natural habitats, from the beaches on the eastern shore to the mountains and nature preserves, make for a fantastic place for eager birdwatchers. Whether you’re on the lookout for a ruby-throated hummingbird or you’d love to catch sight of an osprey, you’ll find that opportunity on the seven best birdwatching hikes in Virginia. 

Pocahontas State Park boasts 64 miles of trails, but birdwatchers should pay special attention to the Beaver Lake Trail. This 2.45-mile trail provides great views of Beaver Lake and the various wetland birds that call it home.

The Eastern Shore of the Virginia National Wildlife Refuge in Cape Charles, Virginia, is home to over 300 birds, including very rare species. The best way for a hiker to view them is to take the Southern Tip Bike and Hike Trail. It’s just over 2.5 miles. On your hike, you might catch sight of anything from a mourning dove to a bald eagle! 

New River Trail State Park sits on 1,668 acres of land in Max Meadows, Virginia. The trail has a “gentle slope,” which makes it “great for visitors of all ages to hike, bike and ride horseback,” according to the official website. Mourning doves, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and northern flickers reside here, so birders are in for a real treat. 

Rail to trail along the New River, VA.

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The Mill Mountain Star Trail is a great hike up Roanoke’s most famous mountain range while providing a fantastic spot for birdwatching. According to the Virginia is for Lovers website, “Nature enthusiasts and wildlife-watchers would probably find most interest in hiking the Star Trail…see spring and fall migratory warblers and nesting migrants,” among others.

The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach has five trails with adjoining lookout points over the beach. Birdwatchers should be on the lookout for osprey, eagles, terns, and so much more! 

Kiptopeke State Park in Cape Charles, Virginia, is known for its fall hawk-watch sites. It is a go-to for anyone interested in watching fall migratory birds, and is known for its long-lasting hawk watch. The park boasts over five miles of hiking trails. 

#kiptopekestatepark #kiptopeakstatepark #kiptopeake #chesapeakebay #kayking #pelicans

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With over 485 acres of protected marsh, flood plain, swamp, and forest, the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve is an ideal spot for birdwatching. Consider taking the Haul Road Trail, an old mining road just under a mile long through the Dyke Marsh. Keep an eye to the skies for over 270 species of birds.

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5 Great Hiking Trails in Virginia Hiking in Virginia is a regular pastime. Hundreds of hiking trails across our many state parks, national parks, and routes leading through the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains offer a never-ending supply of incredible nature options. When the sun is out, you might consider planning a family trip to enjoy Virginia’s spectacular greenery. Below, you’ll find five of the greatest hiking trails for families in Virginia to spice up any day out and about.

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve offers a natural retreat from the bustling city-center of McClean, Virginia, close to the famous shopping district, Tysons Corner. While some of the trails of Scott’s Run can be difficult, there is a moderate, family-friendly path along the river. When you park, you’ll notice two possible entrances. The first will take you to the stream while the second will lead you to the trails. Hikers should follow the trails and the signs based on their comfort level and experience. The park opens a half hour before sunrise and closes a half hour after sunset and can be reached on the Georgetown pike. Enjoy the incredible wildlife and vegetation with your family in this oasis away from urban sprawl.

H2O 🔱

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Assateague Island National Seashore shares a border with Maryland and Chincoteague Island in Virginia and offers “sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays.” National Geographic listed it as one of their “Top 10 Family-Friendly Hikes in the U.S.” This park is known for the gorgeous views, particularly of the wild ponies that still roam the island. Hike around the 1.5-mile-loop Woodland Trail on the Virginia side for a good look of the pony enclosure. Consider reading “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry in preparation for the hike and view, as it is based on a true story of one of the Assateague ponies. 

The Shenandoah National Park has around 50 unique hiking trails ranging from strenuous to moderate and beginner. One of the best trails, hands down, leads to the Stony Man summit. The hike is less than a mile from the parking area but the view is phenomenal, providing clear vantage points to take in Skyland Drive and Skyland Resort. Take a picnic basket and watch the sunset go down. Perfect for romantic dates or an afternoon out with the kids. 

The Cascades in Giles County, Virginia, is one of the most visited spots in the entire Commonwealth, and for good reason. The Cascade Falls are widely regarded some of the most stunning waterfalls in Virginia. The wooden stairs and platform allow visitors a closer look at the 69-foot falls. But the falls are only half of the appeal. Take the Upper Trail for aerial views of Little Stony Creek, another incredible waterway. The original 1960s trail is a work of art in and of itself for its seamless integration into the landscape. Continue along the four-mile path until you see the enormous boulder—just on the other side, the Cascades await. While the terrain can occasionally become steep, the trail is considered moderate, and is likely a good fit for families with slightly older kids. 

High Bridge Trail is one of the most popular in the state. This 31-mile trail is perfect for great hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. What makes the trail ideal for families is that it is mostly flat—as it was rail bed years ago. The real attraction is the immaculate high bridge—stretching around 2,400 feet in length and 125 feet about the Appomattox River. This historic landmark will wow the whole family.  

Rui Serra Maia/ Wed, 08 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Exhilarating Jet Skiing Spots in Virginia You better hold on tight, because you’re in for a rush of a ride on Virginia’s waters. Being home to the Chesapeake Bay, the Dismal Swamp, and bordering the Atlantic Ocean, makes Virginia one of the best spots to ride your jet ski (or rent one!) To catch some waves, speed, and potentially some air, visit these five exciting jet skiing spots in Virginia! 

Smith Mountain Lake is the second largest freshwater lake in Virginia, and a water recreation favorite. Permitted watersports include swimming, motor boating, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, parasailing, paddleboarding, fishing, water skiing, and jet skiing. You can rent jet skis at the nearby Bridgewater Marina. 

Lake Gaston boasts 350 miles of shoreline and over 20,000 acres of waterways. It straddles the border between North Carolina and Virginia, and is a popular water sport destination. Visitors can expect to see swimmers, motor boaters, sailors, anglers, water skiers, paddlers, kayakers and jet skiers enjoying the serene locale. 

Lake Anna State Park is totally family friendly, and is one of Virginia’s most popular lakes for children and the disabled. The lake sits on 200 miles of shoreline and covers 13,000 acres of water. It is a year-round fishing destination, and jet skiers can expect to share the water with swimmers, boats, sailors, water skiers, and paddleboarders. 

Claytor Lake State Park is a 4,500-acre lake, popular with families and among sport anglers. Nearby, the historic Howe House educates visitors as to the ecology of the lake. Jet skiers can expect to find lots of fishermen, swimmers, motor boaters, canoers, paddleboarders, water skiers, and sailors, in addition to other jet skiers. Rent your het ski at Claytor Lake Water Sports, and consider booking a tour with Greasy Creek Outfitters. 

The Virginia Beach Oceanfront is one of the heaviest-visited areas on the East Coast during warmer months, but Rudee Inlet is the perfect encapsulation of everything Virginia Beach has to offer. The official Virginia Beach website describes Rudee Inlet as thus: “A tourist and local’s favorite, Rudee Inlet is a great place to meander around the docks and watch the fishing and sport boats coming and going.” Rudee Inlet offers fishing charters, boat rentals, parasailing and paddleboarding, as well as jet ski rentals. Enjoy the harbor as you zip around on the back of a new jet ski. 

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