As summer turns to fall and fall becomes winter, the changing seasons offer unique ways to experience local trails. PLAY Roanoke’s Outdoor Recreation staff offer half day hikes and other adventures throughout the year. Here’s a selection of what they’ve lined up over the next few months.
September 22 is the official first day of fall. You may already mark the occasion with a pumpkin spice latte or oversized skeleton, but we recommend celebrating the season with a hike! Join us the first week of fall, on September 25, for a sunset hike and picnic at Smith Mountain Lake State Park. The early autumn leaves will be starting to show their colors and you’ll notice a crispness to the air. Enjoy this 4.5-mile hike with a picnic overlooking sunset on the lake. What a way to start the fall season!
Dirty Dancing fans may already be familiar with the destination for our hike on October 8. Well known for its cinematic history, Mountain Lake is also home to some of the best hiking trails in the state! With a starting elevation over 3,750 feet, you’ll be treated to gorgeous 360° views, and the surrounding hardwood forest will be decorated with early fall foliage. This hike is certain to sweep you off your feet!
Who needs trick or treats when we’ve got trails and tales? Celebrate spooky season with an after-dark Haunted Hike at Fishburn Park on October 27. Your guide will entertain with spooky stories about the Roanoke Area. Enjoy this unique blend of hiking and Halloween. Costumes are encouraged, and don’t forget your flashlight!
What better location for a night hike than the home of the Roanoke Star? Mill Mountain has been a tourist destination since the 1800s and has a vibrant and unique history. Join us November 10 for a hike to the top of the mountain and visit at the Discovery Center’s Mill Mountain History Exhibit. Explore, sip hot chocolate, and end the evening with a ride down the mountain where you can pretend you’re on the incline from the 1920s!
If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, the 6.9-mile Pete’s Cave Trail Hike is just for you. This out-and-back hike is great for those who enjoy overlooks, offering plenty of opportunities to view Big House and Little House Mountains. The trail follows the ridgeline of North Mountain through the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest, so you’ll also experience plentiful fall foliage along the way.
Grab a raincoat, headlamp and bundle up to explore one of the newest and most unique hikes in the state. The Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail features almost a mile long tunnel running underneath Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro. The tunnel doesn’t have interior lighting and water drips steadily, so it feels like you’re walking through a cave. This trail has only been open for a couple years, but has become incredibly beloved by local hikers and bikers, you won’t want to miss it!
A waterfall hike the last week of fall may seem unusual, but those who have visited Cascade Falls in the winter can attest to the appeal. The trail follows a creek, which sparkles with frozen pools and icicles. The waterfall itself is impressive anytime of year, but has a delightful charm in the winter months.
View all upcoming Outdoor Recreation programs and registration details here.