Visiting the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountain Area in Roanoke

If you are visiting the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountain Area, consider visiting Roanoke, Virginia.  There are many places to hike and plenty to see with perfect weather. I’m sharing the places we take our guests to when they visit us.  If you are planning a trip to the area, you will also need to see these places.

Visiting the Blue Ridge Mountain Area in Roanoke
The Star on Mill Mountain

Mill Mountain Star

Mill Mountain Star is the first place we take our friends and family that visit the area. We drive to the top of the mountain with the star on top and show them what the city looks like in the valley as well as the star.  You can see the star at night when driving around the city.  The view during the day is great. 

We usually point out the mountain names and the airport and they get an idea that Roanoke Valley is in between the blue ridge and the Appalachian Mountains.  Here is a link to more about Mill Star Mountain and why we have a star on a mountain.

At the top of the mountain, there are trails and gardens to walk around even a trail you can hike on if hiking is your thing.  The kids can even go to the zoo if they want to. Please check zoo hours.

Visiting the Blue Ridge Mountain Area in Roanoke
Roanoke Area

Carvin’s Cove

We have an annual pass at Carvin’s Cove Reservoir, but you can purchase a day pass for $7.  Here you can hike, mountain bike, or rent a kayak and get out on the water.  We have SUPs so we are here a couple of times a month to explore the inlets on the long reservoir.  This is where Roanoke city gets its water supply so no one can swim in the water. Many boaters will fish and use the water for kayaking or canoeing.

Carvins Cove
Carvins Cove in April

Farmers Market and Downtown

In the spring, summer, and fall we take our guests to the farmer’s market and the downtown area just so they can see what the downtown area offers.  They sell fresh fruits and veggies, crafts, and treats at the farmer’s market booths. Link to downtown.

The Taubman Museum of Art is downtown, so you can walk to that too. Sometimes the exhibits at the museum are free through a sponsor, so check out their schedule. The top of the museum has a great view of the city giving you another perspective of downtown. Link to the Museum.

There are plenty of restaurants and shops you can head to if shopping is your thing.  I like the Mast General store downtown and my guests have enjoyed it too.  This is perfect on a rainy day.

The Roanoke River Greenway

If you like to bike, walk, or run you can use this paved trail that runs near the Roanoke River.  It spans over 25 miles and starts in South East Roanoke Area and runs to Salem.  The trail has pretty views of the river and city.  

Visiting the Blue Ridge Mountain Area in Roanoke
Blue Ridge Parkway

Virginia Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway spans many miles and overlooks viewpoints. We like to take our guests on the Parkway from the Bonsack/Vinton area to the Peeks of Otter.  The Virginia Blue Ridge Mountain Area is the prettiest in the fall as the leaves change and there are plenty of places to stop for photos.  There is a section of the Parkway near Roanoke shut down, so watch for signs.

Peeks of Otter- Blue Ridge Mountain

These Peeks are halfway to Bedford from the Roanoke area and are fun to hike in the spring, summer, or fall.  Sharp Top and Flat Top are the two peaks and they sit next to a tiny little manmade lake that has a hotel and restaurant open in the summer.  We stayed a couple of nights and hiked during the day to Sharp Top and along the Parkway.   There is a trail around the lake and we have brought our guests here for a look and walk around the lake.

Visiting the Blue Ridge Mountain Area in Roanoke
Peeks of Otter

Smith Mountain Lake

If you drive 50 minutes southeast you will arrive at Smith Mountain lake. We haven’t even explored the area to the full but there is a city park with a beach, and state parks you can hike around.   The area has a marina and some shops and restaurants to enjoy too.

Cave Spring, Salem, Vinton, Daleview, Bonsack

If you are driving around the outskirts of Roanoke you will encounter, Cave Spring, Salem, Daleview, Bonsack, and Vinton.  Each of these is a small community or city within Roanoke County that has fun shopping, restaurants, museums, greenways, and parks to explore. 

Happy Hollow is a little oasis on Bent Mountain south of Cave Spring with hiking. In the spring the azaleas are in full bloom to enjoy.   We also enjoy the Wolf Creek Greenway near Vinton which runs through ball fields, a farm, neighborhoods, and a stream.   It’s a fun evening or morning walk.

Happy Hollow
Happy Hollow

Hiking Trails in the Area

If you like to hike then the area has plenty of trails.  I would look up places to hike in the Roanoke area under this app and website will tell you the difficulty, and miles for each hike.  This way you know what you are getting into.

  • Chestnut Ridge area by Mill Mountain– is mainly a hike in the woods for almost 3 miles.  It is tree-covered and a fun place to bring hikers who don’t want to climb too high. If it is sprinkling out, the tree coverage shields you from getting wet.
  • Explore Park- has areas for the kids to explore, and hiking for all. This park is along the Roanoke River in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It has scheduled events and a restaurant too.
  • Reed Mountain- is in the Bonsack area and you can hike this in a couple of hours or more depending on how quick you are. Again, it boasts a view of the area on both sides of the mountain.
Sunset at Hay Rock
Carvins Cove on Hay Rock Hike

The Appalachian Trail in Virginia

  • Hay Rock- is a long hike in the Daleview area.  I never made it to “hay rock” since this hike is a little longer.  Many hikers want to see the sunset there, or you can stop at the first viewing spot which overlooks Carvin’s cove.   This is a more difficult hike.
  • McAfee Knob- is the hike everyone wants to do to get the Iconic photo.  Get there early. It is around seven miles round trip. The parking lot gets full very quickly since it’s most popular on the weekend. I like to do this on less popular days.   
  • The other mountains on the Appalachian trail connect and super hikers hike Dragon Tooth, Tinker Cliffs, and more.        

There are hiking trails, biking, walking trails, and lots of outdoors to enjoy.  All the seasons are enjoyable and if you have covered the Roanoke Area, there are more things to see and do in every direction.  Visiting the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountain area in Roanoke.

Enjoy and Happy exploring. If you enjoy Hiking here is a link to a Hiking blog from our travels in the South.

Visiting the Blue Ridge Mountain Area in Roanoke