Hiking in Southwest Virginia

Giles County sports more than 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail and many other trails for those that love to get out hiking in Southwest Virginia. One can reach breathtaking vistas of the Appalachian Mountains, the New River, or Cascade Falls along trails that range from relatively easy to strenuous. You can choose a hike that fits your skill level.

Inn at Riverbend’s suggested hikes include:

New River Water Trail

Boasting over 37 miles of hiking trails that run next to the New River Giles County offers scenic and breathtaking views throughout the river basin. There are a number of different recommended starting points throughout the trail that are 2-7.5 miles in length. The New River depth ranges from a few inches to at some places one hundred feet. Visit the New River Water Trail official website for more information on this trail, maps, itineraries and more!

Lower Cascade FallsLower Cascade Falls

The most visited outdoor location in Giles County; Cascade Falls supplies amazing beauty year round and fall leaf and rhododendron flowering seasons are spectacular. When snow covers the ground and the sides of the gorge are sheathed with ice the view will amaze anyone. The more challenging two mile lower trail to the falls follows Little Stony Creek which allows you to view many cascades and pools. Many return on the two mile upper trail which lends to a more panoramic view of the valley. Both start and end at the same place so the choice of trails is yours. Over the two miles you will experience an elevation change from 2200’ to 2900’. The 69-foot waterfalls are worth the effort. Difficulty: Less than moderate. $3 parking fee.

Distance from inn: 8.8 Miles

Upper Cascades and Barney’s Wall

For most, the four mile, Lower Cascade Falls brings enough excursion for the day. For others, extending the challenge to include the Upper Cascades and Barney’s Wall makes for the perfect days jaunt. One should allow at least 5 hours for this hike with 8.4 mile length and 1600 feet elevation change. Astounding views lie ahead. Difficulty: Moderate. $3 parking fee

Distance from inn: 8.8 Miles

Angels Rest

The Appalachian Trail caps the long ridge one can see to the west off our decks. Angels Rest brings a challenging climb from the Town of Pearisburg up to the Angels Rest lookout just off the AT along that section of the trail. The out and back trail covers 4.6 miles and 1,550 feet of elevation change. The view is spectacular from the top. If this section of the hike isn’t enough for your adventurous spirit, one can continue hiking south along the AT until you’ve trekked to your heart’s content. Difficulty: More than moderate.

Distance from inn: 4.1 Miles

Mill Creek Falls

Mill Creek Falls just outside of Narrows, Virginia, boasts a half-mile long series of falls and a trail that can be hiked or ridden on a mountain bike. One can continue up the trail to the top of Pearis Mountain and join the Appalachian Trail or just relax along the cascade pools. This hike is truly a hidden treasure and can be hike year round. Difficulty: Less than moderate.

Distance from inn: 8.8 Miles

Kelly Knob

Another favorite on the Appalachian Trail, Kelly Knob gives you a 6.5 mile out and back along a ridge between John’s Creek and Clover Hollow Mountains. Kelly Knob is particularly striking giving views from 50’ cliffs. The trails are well traveled as Virginia Tech students are known to frequent it in the afternoons. From the start to the high-point, you’ll climb just under 1800’ in just over 3 miles. Difficulty: moderate.

Distance from inn: 22 Miles or 20.4 Miles

Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory

Just over the border into West Virginia, brings a relatively easy hike with a bit something unexpected. The overhanging sandstone known as Hanging Rock on Peters Mountain is also part of the migration path of various birds of prey; including bald and golden eagles, Cooper’s and broadwing hawks. Difficulty: less than moderate. Upper elevation 3812’ – allowing for beautiful vistas in all directions. Best viewing time – depends on the bird but mid-September through November.

Distance from inn: 30.2 Miles

War Spur & Wind Rock

These trails are moderately easy trails through the Mountain Lake Wilderness as both trails lead to scenic overlooks with elevations from 3100- 3800 feet. Some of this trail follows the Appalachian Trail eastward. The Wind Rock Overlook offers sweeping views of Fork Mountain (3645′) and Peter’s Mountain (4000′).

Distance from inn: 17 Miles

Bald Knob

While less than 1.25 miles, this trail follows a somewhat steep (in parts) Jeep trail. Balk Knob itself is a rock outcropping that allows one to see a panoramic view to the east, south, and west. If it is a clear day, you may even see the Inn at Riverbend to the west. The road offers great opportunity to view butterflies and wildflowers. Elevation: 4365’. Parking fee: $5 which also allows you to walk around Mountain Lake Hotel’s grounds – site for the filming of much of “Dirty Dancing” in the 1980s. There are many other worthwhile trails on Mountain Lake Conservancy lands.

Distance from inn: 12.6 Miles