One of the best ways to explore Bedford and the surrounding region is by hiking, biking and on horseback. Check out the information below:
The Appalachian Trail is accessible all along the Blue Ridge Parkway. From Bedford, access the trail at Milepost 80.5 Floyd Field, 90.9 Bearwallow Gap or Milepost 92.5 Sharp Top Overlook.
Blue Ridge Parkway – Peaks of Otter Trails:
The Peaks of Otter is located at Milepost 86 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, eight miles from the Town of Bedford.
Sharp Top Trail: One and one-half miles to the summit, this is the most popular trail at the Peaks. It originates from the Camp Store across the Parkway from the Visitors Center. It is a steep and strenuous route and should only be attempted by those in good health. Drinking water should be carried. The summit offers impressive 360-degree views of the Peaks of Otter, the Piedmont to the east, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley with the Allegheny Mountain to the west. There is a spur to Buzzard’s Roost, a series of large rock formations; bus service is operated one-way and round trip seasonally. Hiking along the bus road is prohibited. Allow two hours up and one hour down plus an additional hour for the spur to Buzzard’s Roost.
Elk Run Loop Trail: This 0.8 mile trail begins behind the Peaks of Otter Visitors Center. It is one of the least strenuous of the Peaks trails and is self-guiding with written displays describing the forest community. For a leisurely walk, allow one hour.
Harkening Hill Loop Trail: This 3.3 mile trail also begins behind the Visitors Center and across from the amphitheater. It is steep and strenuous in places and climbs to a ridge where several long distance views are possible including a panorama of the Johnson Farm that can be reached from the trail. A spur path near the summit leads to Balance Rock, an immense boulder balanced on a small rock.
Flat Top Trail: This trail was designated, along with Fallingwater Cascades trail, as a continuous National Recreation Trail in April 1982. Flat Top rises to an elevation of 4,004 feet with many scattered rock outcrops such as Pinnacle and Cross Rock. On this trail, hikers can experience the changing forest ecology as they climb or descend 1,600 feet from the Parkway trail heads.
Fallingwater Cascades Trail: The other segment of the National Recreation Trail is a long trail that takes hikers along the cascades on Fallingwater Creek with its huge rock outcrops clothed in rhododendron and large hemlocks. This trails drops 260 feet below the Fallingwater parking area. Hikers should be prepared to climb that elevation on their return; experiencing this mountain cascade is well worth the effort.
Abbott Lake Trail: The least difficult of the Peaks trails is this one-mile loop around Abbott Lake. The trail takes hikers through a woodland forest and open field offering a close-up view of this picturesque lake.
Peaks trail maps are available at the Bedford Welcome Center and the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center. For general Parkway information call 828-298-0398 or visit www.nps.gov/blri.
Jefferson National Forest:
Patterson Mountain Trail: Patterson Mountain Trail is 6.5 miles in length and intersects with Tucker Trail (1.0 mi), Helms Trail (1.6 mi) and Elmore Trail (2.5 mi). The Loop Trail is 1.5 miles. There are good views of Price Mountain, Bald Mountain, Potts Mountain and Richpatch Mountain. The recommended season is all year except for deer season. It is a more difficult trail, requiring some skill. Trail is marked with signs and yellow blazes.
Directions: From Bedford take U.S. 460 West to Alternate 220. Turn right. Alternate 220 will turn into US 220. Take 220 to Fincastle. Turn left on VA 606 and go 8.8 miles to Rt. 612. Turn right and go 0.3 miles to FS 194. Stay on FS 184 for 1.6 miles to Trailhead on south end of Patterson Mountain.
Roaring Run Furnace: 1.5 mile loop. Recommended season is all year; it is especially nice in hot weather. The trail is easy, requiring limited skill and features a cascading stream and scenic waterfalls. Standing pre-civil war iron ore furnace, used for making iron ingots, stoves and other iron products for the building of America. Picnic tables and grills, vault toilets. No potable water. Trail marked with signs.
Directions: From Bedford take US 460 West. Turn right on Alternate 220. Take US 220 north past Eagle Rock. At Rte 615, turn left and go 5.5 miles to Rte 621. Turn right and go 1 mile. Roaring Run entrance on left.
Hoop Hole Trail on Pine Mountain: Lower Loop is 4 miles, total trail 9 miles. Lower loop offers easy walk through mixed forest with numerous creek crossings. Side trail leads 0.5 miles to the site of an old sawmill. Upper loop provides more strenuous hikes with good views. Iron Ore trail (2.4 miles) connects upper loop to Roaring Run Furnace. There are no facilities on Hoop Hole Trail. The trail is marked with signs and yellow blazes. Directions. From Bedford take 460 West to Alternate 220. Turn right and proceed north past Eagle Rock. At Rte 615, turn left and go 8 miles to trailhead. Road signs on right.
The Jefferson National Forest Service phone number is 540-265-5100.
Liberty Lake Park: This 60-acre park located on Burks Hill Road in Bedford offers a series of nature trails that include a paved handicapped accessible trail.
Reynolds Park: This 5-acre park, located on North Main Street in Bedford, offers a small loop trail.
Smith Mountain Lake State Park:
Hiking: There are 13 hiking trails ranging from half a mile to three miles long. Trails meander through the park’s various features, including hardwood forests, pine forests, secluded coves and picturesque vistas. They are open year-round during daylight hours.
Trails range from Easy to Moderate.
Biking: Park new the swimming beach and ride up to the Visitor Center or for a road with less vehicle traffic, park at the Visitor Center (or the Discovery Center) and bike Interpretive Trail Road (has a few moderate hills after trail heads for Turtle Island and Chestnut Ridge). For a more challenging ride bike Overnight Road, this has large hills both ways. For children learning to ride, the Discovery Center parking lot might be the place to make the move off training wheels.
Click here for more information about the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
Blue Ridge Parkway: The Parkway offers 469 miles of picturesque travel across Virginia and North Carolina. Ranging in elevations from 600 to 6,000 feet, the road encompasses a variety of ever changing weather conditions, regardless of the season. The Parkway was designed as a scenic leisure road for motor vehicles so bikers should use caution and be prepared for significant distances between developed areas and services that may vary by season. Parkway maps are available at the Bedford Welcome Center, the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center, or visit www.nps.gov/blri.
Smith Mountain Lake State Park: Park near the swimming beach and ride up to the Visitor Center or for a road with less vehicle traffic, park at the Visitor Center (or the Discovery Center) and bike Interpretive Trail Road (has a few moderate hills after trail heads for Turtle Island and Chestnut Ridge). For a more challenging ride bike Overnight Road, this has large hills both ways. For children learning to ride, the Discovery Center parking lot might be the place to make the move off training wheels.Four trails are offered at Smith Mountain Lake State Park for hiking or biking. Chestnut (1.9 miles) and Turtle Island Trail (1.3 miles) are considered moderately difficult and Lake View Trail (.5 miles) and Tobacco Run Trail (.7 miles) are considered easy.
Smith Mountain Lake Bike Route: The Smith Mountain Lake Bike Route was created to maximize scenic views of the lake. The entire route is 50 miles long, but it can be broken into shorter rides. The route is laid out along public roads. Therefore, please watch out for cars and dogs. And remember, always wear your helmet.
Click Here for SML Bike Tour Brochure
Virginia’s Explore Park: Explore Park features 12 miles of well-maintained mountain bike trails. Bike trail maps are available in the Arthur Taubman Welcome Center. Fee for non-members is $3. Members free. Explore Park rents all equipment needed for mountain biking. Explore Park is located at Milepost 115 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 540-427-1800, toll-free 800-842-9163, www.explorepark.org
Area Biking Trails, Click here.
Washington and Jefferson National Forest/Blue Ridge Parkway Trails:
Day Creek Horse Trailhead: From Bedford take U.S. 460 west. Turn right on Rt. 697. Go .06 mile, turn left on FS 196. Parking is 0.4 miles on left. Turn left on FS 2087 to enter parking area.
Bearwallow Gap Horse Trailhead: From Bedford take 43 North to Peaks of Otter. Turn left on Parkway (this is also 43 North). Go 5 miles and take right on 43 North where it turns off Parkway. Turn left on Rt. 625. Parking is 0.3 miles on the left.
Hunting Creek Horse Trailhead: From Bedford take Route 122 North to Rte. 602. After 0.5 miles, Rte. 602 turns left. Continue on Rte. 602 for another 3.4 miles. Parking is on the left.
Hellgate Creek Horse Trailhead: From Bedford take Rte 43 N to I-81 and take Exit 175 – Route 130 and Natural Bridge. Turn right onto Rte 130 and go 3.2 miles. Turn right on Rt. 759, go 0.7 miles, turn left on Rte 782. After 1 mile turn right on Rte 815 and go about 0.3 miles. Parking area is on the right.
For more information or trail maps, call or write the US Forest Service, PO Box 10, Natural Bridge Station, VA 24579, 540-291-2188.
Long Meadows Farms, LLC
2428 Carters Mill Road
Huddleston, VA 24104
540-297-3419 – Fax
Long Meadows offers riding lessons and guided trail rides. Please call well in advance for reservations, 7 days a week. We also sell humanly raised grass finished beef in quarters, halves and whole animals. We are located in Huddleston on 600 acres of farm land. Open 8:00am to 5:00pm 7 days a week.
Spring Valley Horse Farm
1190 Horseshoe Bend Road
Moneta, VA 24121
540-309-6884 or 540-890-3747
Hosting auctions, horse rides, riding lessons, horse training, horse shows, and festivals. Provide horse carousel and petting zoo entertainment for festivals, birthdays and family reunions. Farm tours for schools are encouraged. We can also travel to local events and schools with our animals. The farm is a great wedding venue with a white horse carriage. Offering cabins for rent with stocked fishing pond, putt putt golf and farm tour. You can also bring your horse and board it here.
Reba Farm Inn
1099 Reba Farm Lane
Bedford, VA 24523
Reba Farm Inn is also home of Saddle Soar Equitainment located a stone’s throw from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Peaks of Otter, open year round offering horseback trail rides (Adult/family), Moonlight Trail Rides, Holiday Trail Ride Activities for the family (i.e., St. Patrick, Easter, Mother’s Day/Father’s Day and Christmas), Dude Ranch Week, Bunk and Bridle Package, Summer Horse Camps (Mini 1/2 Day; Overnight Intern Program and Daytime Camp). “Best Trail Rides Along the Blue Ridge”
Serene Creek Run Riding Center
5040 Cottontown Road
Forest, VA 24551
Complete equine facility offering riding instruction, horseback riding, horse training, facility rental, breeding, summer camps, equestrian teams. College Discounts Available.
Slocum’s Appaloosa Ranch
1674 Private Hills Lane
Moneta, VA 24121
Miles of guided trail rides by appointment 7 days a week weather permiting. Riding lessons, parties, weekly summer camp, pony rides, annual July horse show, horse sales and volunteer opportunities. We are open year round.
Triple M Trail Rides
Mill Iron Road
Goodview, VA 24095
Rides available on weekends starting at 9:00am and 2:00pm. There will also be some all day rides available at times. Please call for more information.
Off Road Trails
Falling Creek Park, Bedford
Falling Creek Park is the first of four planned regional parks being built in Bedford County.Park hours are from dawn til dusk. The park is located approximately 1 mile from US Rt. 460 on Falling Creek Rd. behind the Bedford County Nursing Home. The trail network in the park is designed for hiking, mountain biking and trail running and at present totals 8.5 miles. The trails vary in difficulty from easy to advanced.At Falling Creek Park there is so much to do! In addition to the trails we have an18 hole disc golf course, shuffle board, picnic shelters, charcoal grills, children’s playground and a series of fitness stations located aroundthe 1/3 mile paved walking path. So bring your bike, your disc golf bag, hiking boots, running shoes and your family out for a day in the park! If interested in reserving any of the shelters please contact Bedford County Parks and Recreation at 540-586-7682.
For more information and directions:
Montvale Park, Montvale
What you can expect: 6.75 miles of entirely wooded single track trails highlight this emerging park in Montvale, VA. Most stream crossings have foot bridges or are easily forded. Wildlife in this area include deer, turkey, squirrels and maybe even a coyote or 2. While the rest of the park is still in the development stage the trail system is complete and ideal for mountain biking, trail running and hiking. The trailhead parking area is only 1.5 miles from Rt. 460 in Montvale making it easy to get out enjoy some of the best trails in the area. You can also park at the bottom baseball field behind the elementary school. You’ll skirt around the perimeter of the large field, take a left at opening to the creek crossing and there is a footbridge you can cross or you can ride across the creek.
For more information and directions: http://bedfordtrails.wordpress.com/montvale-park-trails/