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A little more than a decade ago, while living and working in downtown Richmond, if someone had asked me to go hiking, I would have

The Local Trails to Love This Summer

A little more than a decade ago, while living and working in downtown Richmond, if someone had asked me to go hiking, I would have run in the other direction. But now, as a wife and mother living with my family in beautiful, mountainous Central Virginia, hiking is a weekend activity we enjoy as often as possible and it’s even better when we add a few friends into our mix. Be sure to download the free AllTrails app on your phone to search for trails by location, length, difficulty, elevation, and more.

Another suggestion for the day of your hike: pick one of these scenic and gratifying trails, enjoy the views, the exercise, and the time with friends and family, then stop at a local spot on the way home like Town Kitchen & Provisions in Bedford, The Water Dog in Lynchburg, or The Briar Patch in Amherst for a rewarding après hike drink and snack. Sounds like the perfect way to spend a Saturday enjoying the natural beauty of the place we are lucky enough to call home.


Blackwater Creek
Activity: Biking, Running, Walking
Difficulty: Easy  |  Length (in miles): 7.6
Dogs Welcome
If you live in Lynchburg, you have probably hopped on the Blackwater Creek Trail at the Ed Page entrance near Farm Basket and St. George Orthodox Church off Langhorne Road. This entrance offers public restrooms and the added bonus of Nomad Coffee Shop, open seven days a week. Be sure to walk through the Awareness Garden that honors and remembers those impacted by cancer and see the Garden’s iconic bell. 

Liberty Mountain Trail System
Activity: Trail running, hiking, walking, mountain biking
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Length (in miles): This system is comprised of six trails ranging from one to just over three miles
This trail system has easy-to-follow signage and is well-marked for hikers of all experience levels. Some parts of the trail get muddy and slick after a large rain so be mindful of these conditions. The LMTS is for individuals only. Any groups interested are encouraged to email

Peaks View Park
Activity: Birdwatching, hiking, mountain biking
Difficulty: Easy  |  Length (in miles): 5.7
Peaks View Park is the second largest park in Lynchburg. Be prepared to see hikers and walkers of all abilities as well as mountain bikers. There is a playground, tennis and basketball courts, disc golf, and multipurpose fields where a variety of local sports leagues converge on weekends and weekday evenings.

Clemmons Lake Trail – Ivy Creek Park
Activity: Walking  |  Difficulty: Easy  |  Length (in miles): 1.1
The main trail is flat and easy to navigate for walkers and beginner trail runners. The lake provides a nice view and this trail tends to be pretty empty, giving visitors solitude. Be sure to look for wildlife as several animals have been known to make this area their home including birds, turtles, and deer.

Lynchburg Riverwalk Trail
Activity: Road biking, trail running, walking
Difficulty: Easy  |  Length (in miles): 5.7  |  Kid-Friendly
This hike has plenty of beautiful scenery and people watching as it is often well-traveled in the warmer months. It takes a little less than two hours to complete and strollers are welcome. 


Johnson Farm Trail
Activity: Birdwatching, hiking, walking
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Length (in miles): 2.6
This trail offers scenery including the old Johnson family farmhouse, barn, springhouse, and vintage farm equipment. If you’re lucky, local volunteers who are knowledgeable about the trail and its history will be onsite to share stories, give tours, and answer questions from visitors.

Apple Orchard Falls Trail
Activity: Hiking  |  Difficulty: Challenging 
Length (in miles): 2.6  |  Leashed Dogs Welcome
Surrounded by babbling streams, this trail is great for those who may want to get their feet wet, go for a swim, or even camp overnight. Some places on the trail prove challenging so take it easy and watch out for snakes!

Sharp Top Trail
Activity: Hiking, trail running, birdwatching
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
Length (in miles): 3.3  |  Leashed Dogs Welcome
This is a popular and well-traveled hike but also quite the leg burner! Sharp Top offers a shuttle that will take visitors almost all the way to the mountain’s summit. Bring your camera for breathtaking 360-degree views.

Flat Top Mountain
Activity: Hiking, birdwatching
Difficulty: Challenging
Length (in miles): 4.7  |  Leashed Dogs Welcome
This hike can take up to four hours and you will often be met with unsteady dirt and rock trails. Once you make it to the top, enjoy the various lookout points then hurry down for a picnic lunch at nearby Abbott Lake.

Appalachian Trail
Activity: Hiking, backpacking
Difficulty: Easy to strenuous
Length (in miles): 2,180
The AT is mostly through forest but passes various towns, roads, and farms across 14 states, including Virginia. Bicycles are prohibited except for the Virginia Creeper Trail portion in Virginia. Our state has the most mileage of any state on the AT with 550 miles with McAfee Knob in Catawba known as the most photographed spot on the trail.

James River Otter Creek Trail
Activity: Hiking, trail running, walking
Difficulty: Easy  |  Length (in miles): 2.1
This is the perfect hike for families with small children—it takes less than an hour, you’ll come across deer and other wildlife, and there are ample places for kiddos to splash in the creek. 


Mount Pleasant Trail
Activity: Backpacking, birdwatching, hiking
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Length (in miles): 6.3
Dog-Friendly & Kid-Friendly
This year-round strenuous route is often frequented by backpackers and ornithologists and those wanting to have their dogs off leash. The route is well-maintained and signs are clearly marked but the drive up can be pretty bumpy. 

Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail
Activity: Hiking, running, mountain biking 
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Length (in miles): 14.1
Leashed Dogs Welcome
This rail trail can be used for walking, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. There are restroom facilities, plenty of sights to see along the Piney and Tye Rivers, and an abundance of wildflowers to enjoy in the spring and summer months.  


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