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Plan a Fall Foliage Trip to the Highlands

Canoe laden with pieces of lumber sits on the shore of a glassy lake that reflects the sky above and the mountains beyond

Happy Fall, y’all! We are so excited that Autumn is finally here! How about you?! There are just so many fun events and activities to do at this time of year, like looking at all the Fall foliage. We may be biased, but there’s truly nothing like the views here in the Alleghany Highlands. Not to mention the community itself! We have so many fantastic, locally-owned shops and restaurants that help make this area we know and love. Moreover, they are worth visiting. So we put together a list of some of our favorite places here to help you plan out the perfect Autumn adventure!

Places to Go For Fall Foliage

Douthat State Park

Douthat State Park, Courtesy of @alleghanyhighlandsva via Instagram

The first park on the list is none other than Douthat State Park. This was one of the first parks ever built in Virginia back in the 1930s. It’s nestled in the heart of the Alleghany Mountains, offering some of our area’s most breathtaking scenery. It is a terrific place to either unwind or explore til your heart’s content. Douthat State Park is known as the best mountain biking destination on the East Coast, with a whopping 26 trails to ride. But that’s not all. There’s the beautiful 50-acre lake right in the center of the park. You can rent paddle boats, canoes, or waterbikes if you wish, or go fishing. The opportunities for Fall fun are endless.

Falling Springs Waterfall

Falling Springs Waterfall, Courtesy of @destinationhiking via Instagram

Falling Springs Waterfall is one of the most photographed and visited spots in the Alleghany Highlands. Thomas Jefferson himself once noted the Falling Spring Falls as a “remarkable cascade…falling over a rock about 200 feet to the valley below.” The iconic 80′ waterfall cascades from an overhanging ledge and is surrounded by trees, making for a picturesque sight. There is an overlook, grounds you can walk along, and a picnic area, so you can safely enjoy the view and take a few photos!

Lake Moomaw

Lake Moomaw, Courtesy of @the.way.north via Instagram

Lake Moomaw is popular for a reason. It’s peaceful, and there’s something for everyone to do there. You can get lost in the beauty of this lake. The clear water is set among the mountains, which means you’ll have an amazing view of that foliage. Just imagine those colors reflecting off of the water! It’s a great place to fish, kayak, and camp. There are also fire pits on the grounds that you can use. Sounds like the ideal Fall evening!

Local Hikes

You’ve got to get a hike in this season! Hiking is not only a fun way to connect with nature, but it’s also an easy way to get your heart pumping. It doesn’t even have to be a strenuous hike to get the blood pumping! Here are a few scenic trails that are great for everyone:

Roaring Run Loop Trail

Roaring Run Loop Trail, Courtesy of @stacig24 via Instagram

Roaring Run Loop is an easy-to-moderate trail, and it’s such a rewarding hike! Along the path, there are many stunning cascades and slides and it leads to a mesmerizing 35-foot waterfall. There are several places by the creek where you can stop to take in the sights, too. Whether you go solo or bring a buddy (human or canine), you’ll have 1.7 miles of bliss.

Bear Loop Trail

Bear Loop Trail, Courtesy of @rockbridgeoutdoors via Instagram

Bear Loop Trail is a rather easy hike, but with a moderate raise about halfway through. The trail is on relatively flat terrain, much of which runs through shady woods. So you’ll walk right through the sea of Fall colors! Then it opens up to numerous lookouts where you can see the breathtaking mountain backdrop.

Shops and Restaurants in the Alleghany Highlands

Here’s a simple way to support small businesses and treat yourself! After your hike, enjoy a nice meal and a little shopping at these favorite local places:

Two of the most highly-rated restaurants in the area are James Burke House Eatery and Cucci’s Pizzeria. James Burke House Eatery is a lunch spot with a cozy atmosphere. Their friendly staff will make you feel right at home; you can count on them for excellent service. Of course, there are also tons of delicious menu options to choose from like their loaded baked potato and spinach quiche!

Salad & Quiche, Courtesy of James Burke House Eatery via Facebook

But if you’re in the mood for authentic Italian food, you have to go to Cucci’s! There you’ll find flavorful choices made from traditional recipes that are sure to satisfy your cravings. Whether you try one of their famous turnovers or grab a slice of pizza, you will not be disappointed. What’s more, it’s all prepared and served to you by an incredible team.

Pizza, Courtesy of Cucci’s Pizzeria via Facebook

Then it’s time to shop til you drop! There’s a wonderful little store called Four Moons Design that sells custom decorative pieces and accessories. This shop is run by a lovely mother-daughter team who will happily greet you when you walk in. They have charcuterie boards, signs, tumblers, and much more to choose from. If have a special design in mind, they can laser engrave their items for you! Take care of your gift shopping there and get something for yourself!

Other Fall Activities

The best way by far to kick off this season is by going to the Fall Foliage Festival! It’s not Autumn in the Alleghany Highlands without it. For over 40 years, this festival has been held right in downtown Clifton Forge. That means you’ll have an unforgettable view of the Highlands’ forest at the peak of the Fall season!

The Fall Foliage Festival is sponsored each year by The Clifton Forge Shrine Club, and they welcome local civic groups and organizations to get involved to make your experience extra special. There will be countless refreshments made on-site, including fresh doughnuts, country ham sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, and more. And of course, there’s the flea market which is one of the biggest attractions of the festival. You can purchase an array of crafts, antiques, and collectibles from local vendors such as handmade jewelry, pottery, quilts, leather goods, and furniture! As you make your way through town, you’ll get to hear live musical performances from the local high school and artists from a wide range of genres such as gospel, country, bluegrass, and rock.

This festival will run from October 14 – 16, 2022 so don’t miss out. Bring your friends and family and an empty stomach!

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Here at Highlands Community Bank, we like to spotlight our local gems. Our community means everything to us, and we want other people to fall in love with it too. Sign up for our newsletter to discover more local fun and get helpful tips!

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