The Roanoke Valley in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains is an outdoor playground full of unique adventures! Hike a bit of the Appalachian Trail, catch a fish at Smith Mountain Lake, drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, mountain bike at Carvins Cove...the options are endless! However, to help narrow those options down, we've put together this Top 10 list of ways you can explore Virginia's Blue Ridge!

1. Hike a Piece of the Appalachian Trail


Your bucket list has to include a hike to McAfee Knob - the most photographed location on the Appalachian Trail. For an 8.5 mile round-trip hike, you'll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the mountains and a breathtaking experience of Virginia's wilderness.

2. Visit Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake

Pick your spot from 500 miles of beautiful shoreline at Smith Mountain Lake. Fish, camp, picnic, or just relax by the water with the family. Boat rentals and lodging are available in multiple locations along the lake. This area is a destination in and of itself if you are looking to escape for a weekend.

3. Mountain Bike at Carvins Cove


The second largest municipal park in the United States, Carvins Cove has plenty to offer - over 60 miles of scenic multi-use trails, including 50 miles of singletrack for epic mountain biking. Load up your bike and get ready to pedal your way through a Blue Ridge Day at the Cove. It's a big part of why we're the Mountain Biking Capital of the East!

4. Check out the Upper James River Water Trail

James River

"Wet" your appetite (pun totally intended) for Virginia paddling on the gorgeous Upper James River Water Trail that meanders through the Blue Ridge Mountains. If paddling isn't your deal, enjoy a tranquil picnic on the banks, float on a tube provided by Twin River Outfitters, or fish for fresh trout.

5. Take in Views of the Blue Ridge Mountains

Blue Ridge Parkway

Ready for the ultimate American road trip? The Blue Ridge Parkway is addictive, so beware! It boasts grand views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, cozy picnic spots, overlooks with historical information, access to numerous hiking trails, and surprises around every hairpin turn. Take in a view from above or spend an hour, or two, exploring this incredibly scenic byway.

6. Enjoy 30 miles of Lush Greenway

Roanoke Valley Greenway

Maybe you want to get in a good power walk, ride, or run, but want to stay away from the woods? The Roanoke Valley Greenways may serve your purpose. Traipse over bridges, through the trees, and past lovely views of the city and of the mountains as you enjoy Virginia's Blue Ridge from the comfort of the path.

7. Hike Mill Mountain to the Roanoke Star

Roanoke Star

Doesn't it sound intriguing? Believe it or not, this trail really does take you to a star - the world's largest, freestanding man-made one, which overlooks the Roanoke Valley! Start at Mill Mountain's base and work your way to the summit, where you can check out the Roanoke Star and the views, and also enjoy a family picnic while you're there.

8. Take a Trip to Roaring Run

Roaring Run Falls

For a family-friendly adventure, try an excursion to Roaring Run Recreation Area. Walk along a trail that follows the Roaring Run stream past rock walls and over foot-bridges. You will also find a 19th century, iron ore furnace that was used during the pre-Civil War era. Plan for a relaxing picnic near the breathtaking Roaring Run Falls.

9. See the World on Sharp Top Mountain

Sharp Top Mountain

The Sharp Top Mountain Trail at the Peaks of Otter will take you to a photographer's dream - 360 degree views of the mountains, valleys below, and the nearby Peaks of Otter Lodge. Excellent, challenging hiking abounds here, and visitors can enjoy close proximity to the action by checking in at the Lodge or staying at the nearby campgrounds.

10. Join the Fun of an Outdoor Event

Roanoke GO Outside Festival

The calendar is always full of exciting outdoor events in Virginia's Blue Ridge! Take part in the challenge of the Blue Ridge Marathon - "America's Toughest Road Marathon," and learn about the latest outdoor gear and trends at the GO Outside Festival. From triathlons to trail days, we love celebrating the outdoors in the Blue Ridge Mountains! See our Calendar of Events for more information.

Looking for more recreation opportunities? Check out our complete section of Outdoor Adventures in Virginia's Blue Ridge and don't forget to subscribe to our e-newsletter!