Carvins Cove

vista point on schoolhouse

Carvins Cove Hours of Operation:

 6:30am to 11:00pm

Quick Facts:

  • An access pass is required and can be purchased at the boat dock from 6:30am to 9:30 pm (fee = $2/day or $20/annual).
  • Trailside access passes can be purchased at the Bennett Springs and Timberview parking lots (cash or check only).
  • For a download of the entire Carvins Cove trail map, click here.  For boating fee and rental information, click here.
  • Swimming and camping are not permitted at Carvins Cove.
  • Over 40 miles of biking, hiking, and equestrian trails

bridge on 4 gorgesmore buck in fall

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About Carvins Cove

The 12,463-acre Carvins Cove Natural Reserve (the Cove) is the second-largest municipally owned and managed park in the United States, and the largest east of the Mississippi River. Located just seven miles north of the City of Roanoke, the Cove contains more than 12,000 acres of both hardwood and mixed pine-hardwood forests, a 630-acre reservoir, plus more than 45 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. 11,363 acres of Carvins Cove is protected by the largest conservation easement in Virginia’s history.

As a vital piece of Western Virginia’s green infrastructure, the Cove is connected to national, state, and local trail systems. Four miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) are located on city-owned land (through an easement held by the National Park Service), and 11 additional miles are contiguous to Cove property. Carvins Cove

The Cove is also in the viewshed of the AT for 15 miles, with critical viewpoints at McAfee’s Knob (the second most-photographed spot on the AT), Hay Rock, Angel’s Gap, and Tinker Mountain.

Aside from the wonderful hiking opportunities, Carvins Cove has grown to be one of the most popular mountain biking deistinations in the East. When accessing from the Bennett Springs parking area, there are more than 40 miles of mountain biking trails including cross country single track, free ride downhill trails and extensive fire roads. Combine this with the array of fishing and boating opportunities, it’s easy to see whey Carvins Cove is one of the most significant outdoor recreational destinations in the Eastern United States. Check out this video highlighting mountain biking at Carvins Cove from 2011. NOTE: Passes are no longer available from East Coasters and Just the Right Gear.

Trails at Carvins Cove are built and maintained by volunteer groups in the region–Pathfinders for Greenways, Roanoke Chapter of the International Mountain Biking Association (RIMBA), and Blue Ridge Gravity (BRG). Their volunteer man hours result in trails and trail program opportunities for the community to enjoy as a whole. Thank volunteers as you see them at workdays on the trails and if you are interested in volunteering yourself, check out the trailwork page on PlayRoanoke.com and fill out the Trailbuilders Condensed Application and attend a workday.

It is the intention of Roanoke Parks and Recreation to sustainably manage this unique park while also sensitively developing facilities that enhance its role as a nationally significant outdoor recreation destination. Carvins Cove is managed under the framework of the Carvins Cove Natural Reserve Trail Management Plan. This plan directs the future building of trails over the next five to ten years to increase the miles of trail from ~40 to ~80.  Check out the Carvins Cove Natural Reserve Park Management Plan for more information about preserving the natural area for recreation and the water supply. For information about hosting a trail focused event at Carvin’s Cove, contact Renee Lavin Outdoor Recreation Specialist for Trails and Trail Programming at renee.lavin@roanokeva.gov or 540-853-5867.

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Things you need to know:

  • The Cove is only minutes from I-81, and less than eight miles from downtown Roanoke. The address is 9644 Reservoir Road, Roanoke VA, 24019.
  • There are three entrances: the Boat Dock from Route 11 on the Hollins side, Timberview Road at the junction of the Horsepens and Trough trails accessed via Dutch Oven Road and Timberview Road at Hanging Rock and Bennett Springs from Route 311.
  • The Appalachian Trail follows one of the Cove’s northwest ridgelines.
  • The 800 acre lake at the Cove’s center offers fishing and boating with small engines.
  • The Boat Dock provides picnic tables, pay phones, restrooms, boat rentals, security personnel, and parking.
  • Hikers, mountain bikers and equestrian trail riders are welcome. Yielding to other users is important. Please follow all trail etiquette signage.
  • Swimming and camping are not permitted.
  • A day or annual pass may be purchased at any of the three entrances to the Cove. Upon entering Reservoir Road, one may purchase their passes from the Security Office; from either the Bennett Springs or the Timberview Road entrance, passes are easily obtained via the trail lock-box and pass self service system. Fees are $2 per day or an annual pass for $20.
  • To learn more about certain restrictions concerning use of the reservoir, contact the Boat Dock office at (540) 563-9170.
  • The Cove is open seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.