The kids are back in school and the first cool chill has descended on the Valley. Before it gets too chilly and our thoughts turn to pumpkin carving, apple picking, hot cocoa, and fireplaces, here are a few ideas to enjoy some outdoor activities before the real cold hits!
This wheelchair-inclusive playground in Harrisonburg features a rock, rainbow arches, shade structures, roadway, hammock swing, draw wall, pavilion, and family comfort stations that are fully accessible. The Liberty Swing allows children in wheelchairs the opportunity to experience the joy of having a swing in the park. The playground is open from 8:00am to dusk, weather permitting. The park will remain open year round unless the temperature is 32 degrees or below, or the ground is frozen.
The Supporting Therapeutic Access to Recreation, STAR Trail at Woodrow Wilson Rehab Center in Fishersville, Virginia welcomes visitors daily, free of charge, from dawn to dusk. The half-mile wheelchair accessible crushed stone trail enters a white pine forest above the picnic shelter and crosses the lake onto an island with a bridge continuing the trail around the lake. Benches are located along the trail.
Breath-taking scenery and abundant recreational opportunities make the Blue Ridge Parkway one of the most popular components of the National Park System. “America’s Favorite Drive” winds its way 469 miles through mountain meadows and past seemingly endless vistas. Split-rail fences, old farmsteads and historic structures complement spectacular views of distant mountains and neighboring valleys.
These two national forests stretch from one end of Virginia to the other, as well as extending into West Virginia, along the legendary Appalachians. Virtually every type of outdoor recreation activity you can imagine is available. In addition to hiking, fishing, mountain bicycling and camping, don’t forget hawk watching, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, nature photography, and orienteering.
Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness in the George Washington National Forest is one of the largest tracts of virgin forest left in the eastern United States. Among the variety of plants you may see are some virgin hardwoods and hemlocks standing in the upper elevations and a more typical Appalachian forest of tulip poplar, red oak, and basswood. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, bear, and the many smaller mammals that inhabit the woods of central Virginia.
Staunton’s Frontier Culture Museum features four working farms and a blacksmith’s forge. Reenactors help create a living illustration of life in Europe before immigration to America at a 1700’s German farm, 1700’s Scotch-Irish farm, a late 1600’s English farm, and the American farm of the Shenandoah Valley in 1840-1860.
Luray Zoo is home to over 250 animals, and is the only true rescue zoo in Virginia! The Zoo receives animals that are retired zoo animals, unwanted pets, confiscations, and abused animals. The 3+ acre facility offers one of the largest venomous snake collections on the east coast, outside exhibits, as well as a petting zoo.
The Crabtree Falls Trail features a series of five cascades and a number of smaller ones that fall a total distance of 1,200 feet. The trail provides views of the falls from overlooks constructed to accent the beauty of the valley. The first overlook is just 700 feet from the lower parking lot and for those not afraid of a pretty steep hike, Crabtree Meadows offers an amazing vista where the trail ends and the Appalachian Trail begins.
What are some of your favorite places to visit in the Valley?