Fall got off to a bit of a slow start here in Virginia, but now the autumn colors are in full swing! While there are plenty of pretty fall sights on the Virginia coast, our favorite spots for foliage are out west in the mountains. If you’re looking for a daycation or weekend trip to take this month, look no further than Om On’s top spots for fall foliage in Virginia.
George Washington and Jefferson National Forests
Spanning parts of 32 Virginia counties and creeping into West Virginia and Kentucky, this vast stretch of the Appalachian Mountains is the perfect place to take in the beauty of autumn. About 2000 miles of hiking trails, including parts of the Appalachian Trail, pass through the forests, so there are a lot of paths to choose from! We recommend hiking Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia, which is located on the border of Grayson and Smyth Counties. Roaring Run Furnace in the Botetourt County section of the forests is also well worth a visit!
Virginia Creeper Trail
Another way of visiting Mount Rogers is the Virginia Creeper Trail, which begins in Abingdon and ends at the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. It’s best known as a biking trail, but you can walk, run, or even horseback ride. Take the trail at your own pace and It’s worth making a weekend of this trip so that you can experience Abingdon, which is one of Southwest Virginia’s hidden gems.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive pass through the Shenandoah Valley. While they cover some of the same area, Skyline Drive heads north at Afton Mountain while the Blue Ridge Parkway goes south. Whichever direction you pick, you’re bound to get a stunning view of fall in Virginia! If you choose the Blue Ridge Parkway, take one of our favorite nearby hikes: Humpback Rocks. Humpback is challenging enough for avid hikers, but not too hard for novices, and with a view at the top that can’t be beat.
Shenandoah National Park
If you take Skyline Drive instead, it runs the 105-mile length of Shenandoah National Park. With over 500 miles of trails, there are plenty of options in Shenandoah National Park for hiking, biking, or simply strolling through the Shenandoah Valley’s stunning fall landscapes. We can’t visit the park without hiking Old Rag Mountain, which is the park’s most popular hike for a reason! The waterfalls are also beautiful this time of year, and if you’re looking for a trail that’s both gorgeous and easy, our pick is Dark Hollow Falls.
Smith Mountain Lake
If you’re looking for more of a getaway, hit up Smith Mountain Lake for the weekend. Smith Mountain Lake is one of our favorite summer spots because of all the water activities, but its location in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains make it perfect for a fall trip. Rent a cottage by the water or bring along your camping gear for an incredible weekend in one of the most scenic locales Virginia has to offer.
Albemarle is a whole lot more than Charlottesville! Its gorgeous Piedmont location is ideal for people who may not be big mountain fans or don’t want to stray too far from home, and there’s no shortage of things to do and see. Explore Mint Springs Valley Park in Crozet and be surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature in Central Virginia. On your way back to Richmond, visit Carter Mountain Orchard for cider donuts, fresh Virginia apples, and a birds-eye view of Charlottesville.
We love exploring and being active outdoors, but leaf watching is a great way to chill, too! Pick your favorite Cville-area winery (we’re partial to Pippin Hill and Blenheim), pack a picnic lunch or grab a few fancy snacks from Feast, and treat yourself to the perfect fall day.
Where are your favorite places to take in Virginia’s fall foliage? Let us know in the comments!