Blue Ridge Parkway
The first 30 miles of the Virginia Blue Ridge Parkway winds around the northern border of Nelson County. This stretch of asphalt ribbon offers scenic views along the highest ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Start at milepost 18.5 at White Rock Falls and take this 2.5-mile moderate hike down to an impressive gorge with a waterfall and natural wading pool. The name White Rock came from the abundant quartz rock found in the area. If you’d rather climb upwards, travel east toward Montebello to see the famed Crabtree Falls or and kid-friendly Montebello Fish Hatchery, or for a panoramic view, climb up Spy Rock, one of Nelson’ hidden gems with one of the best views around.
Eat at the Blue Ridge Pig or at one of the restaurants at Wintergreen Resort. If you find it’s too hard to leave Nelson County, stay at Wintergreen Resort, relax at the spa, and put off the spring cleaning back home.
On your way to Nelson, drive past Sherando Lake or stop and cool your tired, traveling feet in the water. Stop at The Priest Overlook, milepost 17.6, where the Appalachian Trail passes through Three Ridges Wilderness and The Priest Wilderness. For a short hike with an amazing view, hike Humpback Rock. The Humpback Rocks Visitors Center is located at mile marker 5.8 and it takes about 45 minutes to ascend the 740 feet to the peak and a mere 25 minutes or so to come back down. Enjoy the visitor center and authentic out buildings and picnic area.
When you’ve gotten your fill of the mountains, fill up with some food and craft beverages at Bold Rock Cider. If you’re lucky enough to be there on some summer Saturdays, you can enjoy Cider Cinema, where you and your friends can enjoy good food and drink outside, drive-in movie style. If you need a place to stay, try out Nelson hidden gem, Southern Comfort Lakeside Cabin Resort and enjoy some fishing.
Take in the fall colors after a hike at Mau-Har Trail in Nelson County. This blue-blazed trail is often hiked in conjunction with the Appalachian Trail, a marked hiking trail that stretches from Georgia to Maine. The 3.3 mile hike is a challenge, and traverses through steep terrain. If you are looking for an easier hike, travel up the trail to Crabtree Falls, the highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River.
Have a great dinner and listen to some live music at Devils Backbone Brewing Company, big supporters of the Appalachian Trail community. If camping’s your thing, stay at the Devils Backbone Camp, one of Nelson’s hidden gems. Devils Backbone Camp is a 75 site camp ground featuring full hook up RV sites, dry RV sites and primitive camping within walking distance to the Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows.
Winters in the Blue Ridge Mountains can be cold and harsh at the higher elevations. Weather conditions can change quickly, so it is important to prepare for the extremes that come with cold weather if you choose to hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Your reward? Long-range views that are usually hidden due to tree cover and dramatic icicle formations. Nelson’s winter beauty is truly a hidden gem. Should you choose to drive the parkway and enjoy the overlooks, keep in mind that snow and ice may cause road closures.
To enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway in the winter, travel the overlooks, then spend the rest of your day at Wintergreen Resort, a four-season mountain retreat. Visitors to the resort can enjoy golfing, skiing, mountain climbing, hiking, and the resort’s other facilities, including restaurants and a spa. There’s even room to stay a night or two if one winter day in Nelson just isn’t enough.