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Exploring the Small Towns of Western Virginia by Mary  Burnham

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Book Description

Mineral springs and cooler climes have drawn vacationers to the resorts of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge for more than a century. Civil War campaigns raged up and down the valley, leaving nearly every small town with a tale to tell and a battlefield nearby. Today’s visitors come searching for antique treasures, to explore deep caverns, and view the waterfalls and vistas of Shenandoah National Park. Front Royal is known as the Canoe Capital of Virginia, thanks to the South Fork Shenandoah River, a wide, steady-flowing river with some Class II whitewater. Several outfitters offer canoe and tubing trips. The 195,000-acre Shenandoah National Park attracts millions of visitors with its magical Skyline Drive and backcountry wilderness. Three lodges in the park offer food and one, Skyland, has accommodations. Hikes range from short jaunts past waterfalls and lookouts, to long backpacking trips, including the Appalachian Trail. Skyline Drive runs 100 miles through the park and along the Blue Ridge Mountains, with Front Royal its northern terminus. Steeped in Civil War history, the home of the esteemed Virginia Military Institute, and the final resting place of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the town of Lexington nonetheless has a sense of fun and humor about itself. Lexington has an astounding number of preserved buildings housing restaurants, shops, art galleries and lodging. Within an hour of Lexington are dozens of hiking trails. One amazing attraction in this area are the many caves in the depths of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The caverns started forming hundreds of millions of years ago as small cracks in limestone rock. Limestone is soft and easily eroded by water that contains naturally occurring acids. The massive rooms that have resulted are, in at least one instance, big enough to hold a 40-story building. And then there is southwestern Virginia, whose small towns are often centers of theater, art and music, surrounded by rugged mountains where you can hike for miles without seeing a soul. The people you do meet are among the friendliest anywhere. The town of Blacksburg here is close to where the Appalachian Trail passes through Mountain Lake Wilderness, an 11,113-acre woodland that protects Virginia’s only natural lake in the western part of the state. The War Spur and Chestnut trails form an easy day-hiking loop that passes a stirring rock overlook and old growth eastern hemlock trees. Bordered by Virginia’s finest mountain scenery and infused with the spirit of seekers and wanderers, Damascus is a picture-book town with a reputation that precedes itself. Virginia contains 560 miles of the Appalachian Trail, more than any other state. Of the 2,500 hikers who attempt the hike each year, only about 250 finish. The Virginia Creeper Trail is more of a draw for Damascus, bringing in as many as 600 bikers and hikers in a single weekend. This is just a tiny sample of what you will find in this guide, which covers the Western Virginia towns of Monterey, Lexington, Hot Springs, Blacksburg, Marion, Abingdon and Big Stone Gap, among others. Where to stay, where to eat, what to see and do, how to get around - it's all here.


  • ISBN: 9781556501609 |
  • Hardcover: 420 pages |
  • Publisher: Hunter Publishing, Inc. |
  • Publication date: |
  • Language: English |
  • Format: Ebook