Roanoke, Va. - The warmth of spring offers plenty of sunshine and opportunities to explore the outdoors in Virginia's Blue Ridge.

Picturesque and framed by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Roanoke Valley's vibrant landscape that can be absorbed by land or water. At the heart of it all are more than 600 miles of hiking trails that pulsate through national forests, ancient battlegrounds, city centers and natural wonders.

From easy strolls to more challenging climbs, each trail ranges in difficulty, but all offer unique pathways and up-close glimpses of area wildlife.

Along the Appalachian Trail, located in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, a hike to McAfee Knob offers a near 270-degree panoramic view of the Catawba Valley, North Mountain to the west, Tinker Cliffs to the north and the Roanoke Valley to the east. Touching 14 states and expanding across eight national forests, the Appalachian Trail is the nation's longest marked footpath at approximately 2,181 miles. In the Roanoke Valley, other hikes along the Appalachian Trail include the Overnight Backpacking Loop, Dragon's Tooth and Dragon's Back.

The Blue Ridge Parkway boasts hundreds of miles of hiking trails lined with an array of beautiful blooms, rolling pastures and cascading waterfalls. In Roanoke, the Mill Mountain Star Trail starts at the base of the mountain and leads up to the summit to the storied Roanoke Star. Once there, a system of trails which boast the city's highest point can be found in Mill Mountain Park.

Minutes from downtown Roanoke, Carvins Cove Natural Reserve offers more than 40 miles of multi-use trails. As the second largest municipal park in the nation, 11,363 acres of Carvins Cove is protected by the largest conservation easement in Virginia's history.

Forming the headwaters of the Roanoke River, the 4-mile scenic trail at Bottom Creek Gorge features the second highest waterfall in Virginia and an abundance of virgin 
hemlocks and wildflowers. Also in the Roanoke Valley you'll find more than 22 miles of greenways to explore. The Roanoke River Greenway, Lick Run Greenway, Mill Mountain Greenway, Murray Run Greenway and Tinker Creek Greenway serve as scenic connectors linking Roanoke's natural charm to its alluring neighborhoods and vibrant downtown.

In Salem, Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail wraps along the rail lines of the Norfolk and Southern Catawba spur. The hike is dotted with several interpretive signs and exhibits that explain the significance of the area's Civil War history, including the Battle of Hanging Rock.

A short drive south of Roanoke, hikers can absorb the quiet countryside of Franklin County as they peacefully wind through 6.6 miles of scenic trails in the Grassy Hill Natural Preserve or 7 miles of trails at the Waid Recreational Area. Franklin County also is host to a number of lakeside trails including Philpott Lake's Dogwood Glenn Trail. The 5-mile route features unmatched views of the lake and opportunities to capture area wildlife in their natural habitat.

In addition to the unmatched water recreation offered on the James River in Botetourt County, the watershed also offers a number of hiking trails. Boasting both short hikes and full-day treks, the James River hikes include Crabtree Falls Trail with 2.9-mile hike and cascading falls, the geological wonder of Devil's Marbleyard with a 3-mile round trip featuring a vast rock field and utilizing the Belfast Trail, and the James River Wilderness Trail, which is a 21.9-mile section of the Appalachian Trail that parallels the James River and overlooks the James River Water Gap.

Discover the natural beauty of Virginia's Blue Ridge while creating a mountain adventure to remember. For more information, visit our website or mobile website at, call (800) 635-5535 or stop by the Roanoke Valley Visitor Information Center located in Downtown Roanoke, 101 Shenandoah Ave., NE Roanoke VA 24016, open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily.