Tackling the Appalachian Trail (sort of)

While in the eastern U.S., Sue and I just had to walk the Appalachian Trail. Not all 2,135 miles of it and not even the 544 miles of the AT that runs through Virginia.

The Massie Gap Trail in Grayson Highlands State Park took us up to the AT, where we witnessed some of the best views of the entire iconic trail, according to our state parks guide. And a rhododendron forest that hadn’t bloomed despite it being late April. There was not a wild pony in sight either, despite warnings not to feed them.

We saw a couple of northbound thru hikers with medium-sized backpacks, but they sped by too quickly for us to ask how far they were going. Then we came to a group of 15 or so adults and teen-agers laden with huge backpacks.

“You must be going a long way,” Sue asked them. ”Yep,” said a woman leading the group. “We’re out for three days!”

We are proud to say we walked the Appalachian Trail, at least a couple miles of it in southwestern Virginia.

Hike or Ride Virginia’s New River Trail

If 57 miles of smooth, hard-pack trail along a beautiful river valley are your thing, then grab your bike or hiking shoes and head for southwest Virginia. The New River State Park, which snakes from Fries to Pulaski with a side trail to Galax, is built on a railroad line that once served a thriving iron ore industry. There are campgrounds and bathrooms for bikers or backpackers and numerous entry points with parking. We walked a section and bicycled another; then I finally connected the river to the nation’s newest national park, West Virginia’s New River Gorge National Park, which we visited last spring. Sue and I were impressed with the condition of the trail and its amenities. Finally, there was something missing: hills. And hillsides of rhododendrons still had not blossomed even though April was nearing its end.