News & Notes

The mud kitchen at the nature playground at Spruce Creek Park.

Foundation Announces New Personnel

The Rockfish Valley Foundation is pleased to welcome Elise Lauterbach (  as its first paid staff member. She takes the role of part-time executive director.  We also welcome Rachel Deddens ( as our first part-time manager of the Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center. Please contact them at 434-361-0271 or by email.









Devils Backbone Opens New Distillery

Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows, located in Nelson County, has expanded into distilling.

Open to the public since March 2018, the distillery offers a lounge that serves Devils Backbone beer and spirits with a retail shop.

The new distillery’s first release, Mountain Cane Silver Rum, followed by Nelly’s Apple Brandy are available in the store. Virginia Pine Gin is the next brand available in the summer.

In addition to the newest addition added to the Basecamp is Devils Backbone Camp offering accommodations to encourage destination visits to our 92-acre property featuring 48 RV hook-ups along with primitive camping. Devils Backbone Camp is scheduled to open June 1. A 250-person event space, 25-room lodge and cottages are also planned for the near future.

County officials say that the beverage industry in Nelson County has grown from two wineries in 2002 to 10 wineries, four breweries, four distilleries and two cideries today.



The New County Tourism Website in Action!

Nelson County Economic Development & Tourism has announced its new Tourism Website: which went live in March, 2018.  Ever wanted to know everything there is to do in Nelson County?  This new website includes information on visiting Nelson County beneficial to both residents and visitors, including information on the county itself, Activities: Attractions, Hiking, Kid’s Activities, Museums & Heritage, Music & Entertainment, Orchards & Farms, Scenic Drives, Shopping, Art & Artisans, as well as full information on the county’s many Touring Trails.  In addition, there are full descriptions of Nelson County’s many Outdoor Adventures: Biking, Birding & Wildlife Viewing, Canoeing, Kayaking & Tubing, Fishing, Golf, Hiking Trails, Horseback Riding, Motorcycling, Skiing & Snowboarding, and Tennis and Swimming.

The new website also features information on all of Nelson’s 5 Breweries, 9 Wineries, 2 Cideries and 4 Distilleries, with more on the way!  Anyone planning a trip to Nelson or bringing family or friends in for a visit to Nelson County, (or maybe trying out something new as a Nelsonian) can learn something from this new informative website, that has been a long time in the making!

Residents and Visitors will also find an extensive EVENTS CALENDAR – with all the events happening at Nelson County venues on a daily basis, and throughout the year.  Meeting and Wedding Planners will see detailed information on meeting, wedding and reception venues on this website – making planning an event in Nelson County an easy process!

For those not yet in the know, Nelson County also has a government website for residents: that also features an Events Calendar and County Calendar.

Unique Store Open in Lovingston


It’s incredible to think how the local craft brewing industry has flowered in Nelson County. In just a decade, the bar has been permanently raised as talented visionaries have manifested their individual tastes into tangible experiences all can share.

This embrace of personal preference and a vibrant faith in the time-tested ideals these ideas are rooted in, are what inspired Luke and Adrienne Ramsey to open the doors of Home Remedies Mercantile and Exchange., located next to the Post Office, in Lovingston.

“A heartfelt affinity for local, organic, non-GMO food, and farmers committed to food integrity, is certainly a foundation stone of our market,” says Adrienne Young- Ramsey, proprietor. “Along-side a deep desire for establishing authentic community is a passion for the land Divinity has given us to nurture and protect. We just had a simple hunger for the best food out there which, fortunately for us, is just around the corner. Otherwise, we would have to drive hours to get it! So, we aim to bring it back home, so to speak.”

At Home Remedies Merchantile and Exchange, you’ll find grass fed, grass finished dairy, eggs, meats and poultry, (much sourced from The Ramsey’s own farm,) produce and fruits cultivated in an environmentally friendly manner, local herbs, culinary/seasonal medicinals, organic sourdough breads and pastries, fermented foods and beverages, and delicious coffees and teas made with the best fairly traded ingredients.

In purchasing these sorts of products, we create a vibrant local economy.

Handing money to the farmer that grew the fresh produce being delivered, or the bread just baked, or the cheese just made, or the meat that was lovingly tended and finished on grass rather than GMO corn, nurtures all the right things, and brings back the old ways which are so in danger of being lost, thus ensuring longevity for the land and the people who have been charged to care for it. Biodynamics, organically grown, local, certified naturally grown, grass finished, non-GMO – all these buzz phrases actually stand for something bigger than any multinational corporation. They are directly connected to the personal power of the dollar. It is the consumer that creates the world we live in, but we forget we can choose, whatever choice that may be.

For the Ramsey’s, it’s more than just the foods of our forebears they are spotlighting with their Mercantile; it’s also the skills and tools that made life possible before modern electricity.

The Store holds many relics of days gone by, including early American tools and antiques. “If these tools could talk”, Luke says of their collection, “we would gain access to so much wisdom – what we could learn of the extraordinary efforts it took to truly live off the land…it’s pretty humbling”.

Luke Ramsey, a native of Nelson County, leads Ramsey Restoration Inc., a business he inherited from his father, renowned restorationist, Lewis Ramsey. They specialize in historic homes, barns, and log cabins, breathing new life into old structures.

Adrienne, a seventh generation Florida native, graduated from Belmont University, in Nashville, TN, making her living as a touring singer songwriter before moving to Virginia in 2007, even receiving a Grammy nominee for her efforts.

She then worked at Monticello for many years and amidst marrying Luke and mothering their son, Elijah, began Backyard Revolution as a familial pastime (which was an educational program spotlighting the practical skills and wisdom of our ancestors).

Says Adrienne, “Our name includes the word ‘Exchange” as, in addition to offering healthful food options, we are grateful to be able to offer a common ground upon which folks can gather or trade both ideas and goods-our public barter will allow participants to exchange everything they have personally cultivated, grown or nurtured-imagining it will help establish mutually beneficial relationships while helping us to remember how flexible the currency can be…it’s exciting!”

More Coming to Schuyler: Earl’s Meadow is Developing

Down an unmarked road that meanders along the Rockfish River, in the small hamlet of Schuyler, gentle green hills that surround The Waltons Hamner House will soon be transformed into a mecca for generations of Waltons fans.

Earl’s Meadow already features The Waltons Hamner House, beloved boyhood home of Earl.  Soon, just next door to this well-built 1915 company house that lovingly sheltered the Hamner family, a new bed and breakfast inn will be built, appropriately known as Livvy’s B&B. This five bedroom bed and breakfast inn will be a replica of the Waltons television show house and will be a hallmark for every Waltons fan who steps across the threshold. Carefully furnished with replicas from the Waltons set, fans can see many items favored by set designers who furnished each room to exact detail, remembered by the original Storyteller, Earl Hamner, Jr.

Along a brick pathway that winds through Earl’s Meadow, the Heritage Path is a combination of many peoples’ heritage, all those who have graciously purchased either a 4×8 or 8×8 brick paver in honor or memory of a loved one. These bricks will become a permanent foundation of the Heritage Path of Earl’s Meadow.

‘‘I have walked the land in the footsteps of all my fathers. I saw yesterday and now look to tomorrow.’’

While walking in the footsteps of all of our fathers, mothers and loved ones, guests will discover the Will Geer Botanical Garden, a peaceful respite dedicated to the jovial spirit and ‘gusto’ of Will Geer, and his embodiment of Grandpa Walton.

From here, guests can view the magnificent bronze statue of Earl Hamner, Jr. Earl would be very humbled to know of his statue on this hallowed ground known as Earl’s Meadow, but it befits the giant of a man and Southern gentleman who gifted the world with the talent of being a Storyteller.

Brick Pavers Available

Guests will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase a 4×8 or 8×8 brick paver that will become part of the Heritage Path, the foundation path winding through Earl’s Meadow. This is a beautiful way to not only remember a loved one, but to contribute to the foundation of the Heritage Path in Earl’s Meadow and become a part of history in Schuyler. For more information, call (434) 831-2017.

Beautiful “Quarry Gardens” Also in Schyler

The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler are nestled into a 600-acre property owned by Armand and Bernice Thieblot. The featured quarries were actively mined between the 1950s and 1970s.

Opened in the Spring of 2017 as a public garden, the Quarry Gardens features about two miles of walking trail, more than 30 galleries of native plant communities, and a Visitor Center that includes exhibits on native plants, local ecosystems, and the history of the soapstone industry in Schuyler, as well as a classroom. Future goals are to establish a designated plant propagation area as well as sites for plant research.

Soapstone and Schuyler

Soapstone exists in only a few places in the world, among them Alaska, Brazil, Finland—and Central Virginia. For more than half a century, it was the reason and livelihood for the community of Schuyler.

Since the 1890’s, Schuyler has been the soapstone capital of the world, mining and shaping talc-rich steatite into products both useful and beautiful. Schuyler remains the only active soapstone-quarrying area in the U.S.

Soapstone is a metamorphic rock composed mostly of talc and magnesium. It is dense, solid gray, and non-absorbent; resistant to both acids and bases, electrically neutral, and heat-retaining. It has a soapy-feeling surface and is easily carved. Such qualities made it a useful material for laboratory countertops, laundry tubs, film developing tanks, electrical backboards, telephone switchboards, stair treads, and other architectural features.

There were some 90 quarries in the area. Six of those—now appearing as two rock-sided pools of water (each about an acre in area and 30-45 feet deep)—are central to the Quarry Gardens. It is estimated that some 800,000 tons of soapstone were removed from this site, and 600,000 tons of quarried stone discarded here.


A few artifacts of the quarrying process are visible on the quarry walls and along the trails—including mountains of soapstone blocks, now colonized by plants and animals.

Exhibits in the Visitor Center illustrate the history of the soapstone industry in Schuyler, and include an operating model of the 17-mile long Nelson and Albemarle Railroad, which transported stone from quarries to the Southern and the Chesapeake & Ohio lines. The Quarry Gardens Foundation also holds a small library of books about the local soapstone industry.

Visits to the Quarry Gardens are by appointment only. They will be happy to welcome you for a tour on open days—normally Fridays through Sundays—between April and November. There is no admission charge for individual tours (although donations are happily accepted and $10 per person is suggested).

Be Advised

As a natural site, the Quarry Gardens have no paved surfaces. Trails are covered in wood chips. There are places where cliffs drop directly into the quarry pools; there are no fences. They want you to be safe, so each initial visit is guided. The site may not be suitable for children under six.

If you would like to visit, go to, click on a tour date, and let them know how many are coming, and confirm RSVP

Nelson County Couple Opens Shop

Anna and Tommy Williams, both natives of Nelson County and now living with their two daughters in Shipman, had dreamed for years about running their own business. When they started renovating their building (in Colleen) in 2015, and opened their doors last year, their dreams became reality. Olde Southern Charm was up and running.

“We always had a passion for antiques and things of the past,” Anna said, “so we started out primarily as an antique and thrift shop. Now we have evolved into a variety shop.”

They now offer primitives, home décor, decorative flags and mats, textiles, new and used items, jams and jellies and more. Most of their inventory comes from estate sales and wholesale companies, and they get some of their products from local suppliers. They also enjoy visiting the Amish and bringing back their famous handcrafted furniture. Due to space limitations, they are not accepting consignments at this time.

  “It is great to be able to interact with the people who make such wonderful products,” Anna said. “Best of all we are supporting other small, family run businesses as well. We love having a business in Nelson County to pass along the wonderful treasures that we find, and we are truly blessed by all of the wonderful people who have supported us in this journey.”

Local Art Abounds

The Blackburn Gallery, located on Rt. 151, Nellysford, is owned and operated by U.S. Air Force veteran and former photo-journalist Kevin Blackburn.

Specializing in high quality contemporary fine art, Blackburn offers a nice collection of regional and quarterly visiting artists. Besides the paintings, one can find photographic and non-photographic prints, glass, pottery, ceramics, jewelry, stone and metal sculptures, fine wood turnings and furniture.

Blackburn also provides quality instruction through workshops and classes for adults and children within their enriching, museum-like gallery.

Kathy Bonham opened the Rockfish River Gallery in March 2015. A native of Bluefield, West VA, Kathy grew up as an Air Force “brat”, travelling in all 50 states. After earning a law degree from the University of Miami, Fla., she and a partner opened a law practice in Denver, Col., where she worked until retiring in 2001. Kathy is a photographer and has been since her father bought her an SLR camera when they lived in Japan.

She now has 56 artists, artisans and authors in the gallery.  All of them are local or live in Virginia with the exception of one young lady, an author of children’s books, who was born and raised here. The authors are all local, and Virginians, living in VA.  So there are many books by local and Virginia authors along with a number of children’s books.

Infinity Downs Farm 2017 Events Calendar

Home of the Lockn’ Festival and The Festy Experience in Arrington, Virginia hosts concerts, wine and beer festivals, Spartan Race and more!

Arrington, VaInfinity Downs Farm, Central Virginia’s premier outdoor concert and events venue, and home to the Lockn’ Festival and The Festy Experience just completed a very successful Spring season with performances by The Revivalists, Peoples Blues of Richmond and Moogatu, and a Wine & Wildlife Festival with music by Bruce Hornsby. Infinity Downs Farm is proud to present the remaining 2017 events calendar:

Friday, June 2 – The Brewmasters Ball featuring Keller Williams and Michael Clem. Taste and vote to pick Virginia’s top craft breweries and enjoy tastings from top cideries including: Adventure Brewing, Apocalypse Ale Works, Ballast Point, Blue Mountain, Blue Toad, Bold Rock, Devil’s Backbone, Greenflash, James River Brewery, Parkway, Pro Re Nada Farm Brewery, Random Row, Starr Hill, Stone Street, Three Notch’d, and more. Local food trucks will offer the finest in local food, crafts and more. Tasting passports start at $30 and include concert with Keller Williams and Michael Clem. Kick-off event for Spartan Race. Open to the public.

Saturday-Sunday, June 3 & 4– Reebok Spartan Race – Virginia Super and Sprint Weekend. Registration open. With a longer distance than the Sprint and more obstacles, the Super will test your endurance, perseverance and grit. Spartan Race will bring 8-10 miles and more than 25 Signature Spartan Obstacles through tougher and more rugged terrain.

Saturday, June 17 – Nelson County Community Day featuring the Rockn’ to LOCKN’ finale. 12Noon. Tickets $10. Benefits The Giving Hope Foundation. This annual family friendly event features local food, craft beer, wineries, family activities, vendors, and more. See the Top 6 local Virginia bands: Anthony Rosaro and The Conqueroos, FeelFree, Kendall Street Company, Mighty Joshua, Sun-Dried Opossom, and Virginia Man as they compete for the Rockn’ To LOCKN’ finale. Fans vote to choose 3 winning bands who will go on to perform at the 2017 LOCKN’ Festival.

Thursday-Sunday, August 24-27 – LOCKN’ Festival returns for its 5th year with 4 days of music, artist collaborations, food, craft beer, camping, outdoor activities and so much more. Perforamances by John Fogerty, The Avett Brothers, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, The Revivalists, String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams, Gov’t Mule, John Butler Trio, Brandi Carlile, Margo Price and many more.

Thursday-Sunday, October 5-8 – The 8th Annual Festy Experience returns to Infinity Downs Farm featuring The Infamous Stringdusters and the best in folk and Americana music, craft beer, local food, camping, outdoor and family friend activities. More artists to be announced.

Tickets for all events are on-sale at Overnight camping on-property is available for selected events.

Infinity Downs Farm is a 387 acre property located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Arrington, Virginia. The former 225 year old tobacco farm was purchased in 2014 by the owners of the Lockn’ Festival, and offers scalable and versatile venues including the Blue Ridge Bowl ampitheater, Garcia’s Forest performance area in the woods, and plenty of open fields for parking, camping, and other outdoor accomodations. Miles of hiking and bike trails have been curated to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. Infinity Downs Farm can be found at, and on Facebook and Instagram @infinitydowns and on Twitter @infinitydownsVA.

For venue rentals and details contact Mary Beth Aungier at

For press, marketing and promotional partnerships contact Stacie Griffin at

Historic Attractions

Oak Ridge is a 200-year-old estate formerly owned by a number of businessmen prominent in Virginia history. Wall Street financier and Nelson County native Thomas Fortune Ryan purchased the estate in 1901 and transformed the small, Federal-style dwelling into a 50-room Colonial Revival mansion. Much of Ryan’s American Empire furniture remains in the home.

The Holland family acquired the 4,800 acre estate (with 50 outbuildings) in 1989 for the purpose of restoration.

Leisurely tours can be scheduled throughout the year by advance appointment for groups of ten or more guests. Visitors will see selected rooms in the Mansion as well as certain Grounds features. For more information,

Oakland-The Nelson County Museum of History was established to educate and expose the public to the rural history of Nelson County. The house was originally built in 1838 as an “ordinary”, or tavern, to accommodate passengers traveling the stage road from the Federal City (Washington, D.C.) to Lynchburg.

The story of Hurricane Camille, that devastated Nelson County in August 1969, is one of the major exhibits. For more information, visit

After building Pharsalia in 1814, Revolutionary War veteran Major Thomas Massie deeded it to his son William as a wedding present. The current owners, Foxie and richard Morgan, are dedicated to preserving, protecting and sharing this unique property.

Located off Crabtree Falls Hwy. (on the way to Montebello for most Nelson County residents), Pharsalia was accessible only to the family and friends of its owners for decades. Now it is registered as a Virginia Historic Landmark. For more information, visit

Walton’s Mountain Museum is located in Schuyler (Sky-ler). Opened on October 16, 1992, this building was Schuyler’s ca.1924 high and elementary school until 1955, grade school until 1991, and it is now the community center. “The Waltons” creator and John-Boy’s alterego, Earl Hamner, grew up in the home across the street. WMM attracts thousands from all over the world. The Museum offers replicas of John-Boy’s Bedroom, Ike Godsey’s Store, “The Waltons” kitchen and “The Waltons” living room. Hundreds of photographs and pieces of memorbilia are on display. For more information, visit

Another notable historic property in Nelson County is Swannanoa Palace, located in Afton. This 52-room$2 million marble palace was built as a token of love. More than 300 artisans were hired to create the palace as a replica of the Villa de Medici in Rome.

The property is under renovation and plans are to re-open the palace as a bed and breakfast and meeting facility. More more information, call (540) 942-5201.

Nelson County Trails Offer Great Hiking For Everyone!

Use caution during hunting season on all trails.

Photo courtesy of Nelson County Parks & Recreation

Appalachian Trail 45 miles of the Appalachian Trail lie in Nelson County with moderately challenging to rugged terrain. It is accessible from Route 56 in Tyro and at trail crossings along the Blue Ridge Parkway: Reeds Gap/Route 664, and Rockfish Gap/Afton Mountain (exit 99 off Interstate 64).

Appalachian Trail from State Route 56 (Swinging Bridge) to Harpers Creek A 2.6-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail to Harpers Creek, where the water gurgles through the large rocks. Directions from SR 56 at Crabtree Falls: Take SR 56 east for approximately 3-4 miles. The Appalachian Trail crosses SR 56 and a parking lot is available to the left of SR 56.

Appalachian Trail to Spy Rock An approximate 2 mile moderately strenuous hike from the Montebello Fish Hatchery up to the Appalachian Trail and to Spy Rock, probably the best viewpoint In the central Blue Ridge. The rock outcrop, at 3,980 feet elevation, provides a 360 degree panoramic view of numerous mountain summits. Directions from State Route 56 at Crabtree Falls: Take 56 west towards Montebello. Turn left onto 690 to Montebello Fish Hatchery. A small parking lot for hikers is available beyond the hatchery buildings to the right (follow the sign). Follow the trail for approximately .9 miles until it intersects the Appalachian Trail (white blazed). Turn left (north) on the AT and follow it about .7 miles to the small side trail to Spy Rock. A rock scramble will lead to the top of Spy Rock.

Blue Ridge Parkway Humpback Rocks encompasses 800 acres along the Blue Ridge Parkway between MP 5 and 9.3. This area is perhaps the best representation of the varied combination of natural and cultural resources anywhere along the Parkway corridor. The prominent rock outcrop was a landmark guiding wagon trains over the Howardsville Turnpike in the 1840s. A portion of the historic trace still exists. Stop by the Visitor Center and mountain farm exhibit at MP 5.8. The farm includes a single-room log cabin and a series of outbuildings that represent elements of regional architecture of the late 19th century. Costume interpreters provide demonstrations of weaving, basket making and gardening. A picnic area and comfort station are nearby at MP 8.4.

Milepost 18.5 White Rock Falls at Slacks Overlook A 2.5-mile moderate hike, the highlights is the impressive gorge, which has a water fall and a natural wading pool. The name White Rock came from the abundant quartz rock found in the area. From Crabtree Falls in Nelson County, Route 56 west to the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Slacks Overlook (north of milepost 20). Park at the Slacks Overlook and the trail starts about 60 yards ahead on the east side of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Crabtree Falls is the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Crabtree Falls features a series of five major cascades and a number of smaller ones that fall a total distance of 1,200 feet. The first overlook is just 700 feet from the new lower parking lot. The more adventurous hiker may continue to other overlooks, to the top at Crabtree Meadows, where the trail ends, or to the Appalachian Trail, just one half mile beyond Crabtree Meadows. From US Route 29, take Route 56 West at Colleen, follow Route 56 West for approximately 20 miles to 11581 Crabtree Falls Highway, Montebello VA. From the Blue Ridge Parkway (milepost 27) , take Route 56 East for 6.3 miles to Crabtree Falls

Fortune’s Cove Nature Preserve The Preserve contains a 5.3 mile hiking trail within the mountainous property. Other features are 7 viewpoints and a stream. The preserve is situated within some 29,000 acres of relatively intact forest habitat and hosts rare plant communities on a series of rocky glades. The 5.5-mile loop trail climbs steeply from the parking area, gaining some 1,500 feet in elevation before reaching its highest point. From Route 29 north at Lovingston, take Route 718 (Mountain Cove Road) to Route 651 (Fortune’s Cove Lane).A parking area and informational kiosk at the base of the cove will help orient visitors. From Route 29, Route 718 to Route 651.

Henry Lanum Memorial Trail and the Mt. Pleasant Spur A 4.8 mile circuit hike through the Mt. Pleasant National Scenic Area that encompasses two 4,000 foot mountains: Mt. Pleasant and Pompey Mountain. Take a short spur trail (.3 miles) to see the spectacular views from Mt. Pleasant. Directions from SR 56 at Crabtree Falls: Take SR west to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Follow the BRPW south to US Rt 60. Take RT 60 east to SR 634 (Davis Mill Creek Road). Continue on SR 634 to intersection with SR 755 (Wiggins Springs Road). Follow SR 755 to the end of state maintenance and continue on forest Development Road 48. Moderate + hike – last mile is Moderate

Kids in Parks TRACK Trail at the Rockfish River Trailhead The Rockfish Valley Kids in Parks Track Trail in Nellysford at the Rockfish Valley Foundation’s beautiful Rockfish River Trailhead on Route 151, 1.5 miles south of Nellysford. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks Track Trail program has created a network of self-guided outdoor opportunities for kids and families to get unplugged, active and connected with nature. The Rockfish Valley TRACK Trail is a flat, 1mile loop that follows the South Fork of the Rockfish River and Reids Creek. The trail features riparian, field and bog habitats and offers excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. The trail was made possible with grant support provided by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Rockfish Valley Highway, Nellysford, Virginia, 22958. For more information visit , , email or call 434-226-0446.

Kids in Parks TRACK Trail at the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail This Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation program helps get kids and families “un-plugged”, outdoors and actively engaged in nature, for their health and the health of our parks. Each TRACK Trail provides a series of self-guided, brochure led adventures designed to turn an ordinary hike into a fun-filled adventure. Kids who register their TRACK Trail adventures on the Kids in Parks website become members of the program’s Trail TRACKer Team and earn prizes designed to make their next adventure more fun. The Kids in Parks TRACK Trail is a kid friendly adventure along 1.8 miles of the generally level Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail. Walk along the rushing mountain waters of the Piney River and observe wildlife in their natural habitat. The trail is available for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding from dawn to dusk. Free. 3124 Patrick Henry Highway, Piney River.. 434-263-7130 or 434-263-7015

Mau-Har Trail – Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 13.7 The blue blazed Mau-Har trail provides an excellent circuit hike in conjunction with the Appalachian Trail through the Three Ridges Wilderness area in Nelson County. The trail begins on the AT 1.8 miles from Reeds Gap/route 664. It continues for 3.3 miles through steep terrain passing near the 50 foot Campbell’s Creek waterfall. The trail ends on the AT, 1.5 miles from the junction of the AT and Route 56.

Montebello Nature Trail A short trail (.5) follows a small stream that was once part of the Montebello Fish Hatchery. The path is lined with a wide diversity of ferns as well as native shrubs and wildflowers. Relax on one of the benches and listen for the Louisiana water thrush or watch dragonflies skimming the stream. Entrance just above the dam. The trail is always open.  Follow Route 56 to Montebello. 359 Fish Hatchery Lane, Montebello

Montreal Park Located on Route 56 east (James River Road) from Lovingston beside the VDOT office and across from the Collection Site at Shipman.  The Park has a pavilion, picnic tables, and restrooms.  It is great for parties, reunions, etc.  To reserve, please call NCPRD 434-263-7130.

Nelson County Wayside 7 miles north of Lovingston on Route 29.  The short hiking trail has views of the Rockfish River and includes a Hurricane Camille memorial marker.

Rockfish Valley Loop Trails Experience the Rockfish River and Reid’s Creek on approximately 4 miles of trails on a farm surrounding the confluence. Part of the VA Birding and Wildlife Trail, these paths offer recreation and integration with nature and history.

Currently open for hiking only, these are mowed grass and dirt trails, and have a nearly flat grade throughout, although surrounded by spectacular mountain views. Parking is located at Spruce Creek Park at old Wintergreen, and on the southwest side of the Route 151 bridge over the Rockfish River. Open sunrise to sunset.

Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch Seasonal hawk watching in the parking area at The Inn at Afton on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 185 Afton Circle, Afton 540-942-5201

Rockfish Ruritan Park 74 Rockfish School Lane, Afton 434-361-9349

Lower Rockfish Valley Watchable Wildlife Loop Route 617 (Rockfish River Road) to the Rockfish Depot

Nelson County Wilderness Area The Wilderness designation provides permanent protection for the two areas in their natural state. The Priest (nearly 6,000 acres) rises from an elevation of about 1,000 feet at the Tye River to 4,063 feet. Three Ridges (4,608 acres) is one of the wildest and most rugged areas in the Virginia Blue Ridge. One of the accesses to the area is the Appalachian Trail that runs through this scenic wilderness.

North Fork of the Piney River A scenic driving and short walking trail offers views of  Piney River as it cascading over large rocks. It is stocked for fishing and good swimming holes. Take Route 56 west to Massies Mill, turn on SR 666 (Dickie Road). Follow SR 666 for a total of approximately 4 miles passed Dickie Brothers Orchard where the road becomes a gravel road then winds up and over the mountain offering mountain views of the Blue Ridge.  At the foot of the mountain turn right on to Route 827. Route 827 goes into the George Washington National Forest and parallels the North Fork of the Piney River. Parking along the roadside and walk beside the river (except where private property is posted) that offers scenic views of this mountain stream. The river offers pleasing views of cascading rapids. It is stocked for fishing and there are some good swimming holes. Directions from Crabtree Falls on State Route 56: head East on Route 56 to the village of Massies Mill, then turn right to go West on Route 666. Stay on Route 666 for a total of approximately 4 miles through Dickie Brothers Orchard. Just past the packing shed, the road becomes a gravel road then winds up and over the mountain offering great views along the way. At the bottom of the other side of the mountain, turn right on to Route 827. Route 827 goes into the George Washington National Forest and parallels the North Fork of the Piney River. You may pull over to the side anywhere there is enough space (except where private property is posted) and walk beside the river.

Royal Oaks Watchable Wildlife Loop Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 16) at Love, VA  The trail is atop the Blue Ridge Mountains at Royal Oaks Cabins in LOVE, VA. and loops through the National Forest, Wilderness Areas, and the Parkway. 45 Royal Oaks Lane, Love 800-410-0627

Spruce Creek Park The park is located at the trailhead of the Rockfish Valley Loop Trails and at the Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center at the intersection of Route 151(Rockfish Valley Highway) and 617 at Nellysford 434-361-2251

Tye River Park Crabtree Falls Highway (Route 56) just east of Dickie Road, at Massies Mill.  A small park located beside the Tye River with picnic tables and a short walk to the river bank.

Virginia Blue Ridge Rail Trail 3124 Patrick Henry Highway, Piney River. The trail is 7 miles and is opened for hiking, biking and horseback riding year round. The main trailhead is in Piney River on SR 151, Patrick Henry Hwy. It has ample parking for cars and horse trailers. A smaller trailhead (at milepost 1.7) in Roses Mill on SR 674, Roses Mill Rd can accommodate only cars. Restroom facilities (porta-johns) are available at both trailheads. The mainly crushed stone trail follows a scenic route along the Piney and Tye Rivers, where wildflowers bloom from spring through summer and wildlife abounds. The trail dead ends at the 7 mile point, there is no eastern access at Tye River Depot, you must retrace your steps to your vehicle. During the autumn hunting season, trail users should wear blaze orange clothing. The trail is open sunrise to sunset. The trail occupies the rail bed of the former Virginia Blue Ridge Railway, which ran from Tye River Depot (to interchange with the Southern Railway) to Massies Mill. Construction of the railroad started in 1915 and the line was abandoned in 1980. To access the Piney River trailhead from the Lovingston area, take US 29 to State Route 56 west at Colleen; turn right onto SR 56, and travel 5 miles to turn left onto SR 151. After 2 miles you’ll see the trailhead sign on left (3124 Patrick Henry Highway, Piney River). Parking for cars and horse trailers is available. To access the Roses Mill trailhead from the Lovingston area, , take US 29 to SR 56 west at Colleen; turn right onto SR 56 and go about 4 miles to left turn onto Roses Mill Road/SR 674). The trailhead is about 1.4 miles farther (around milepost 1.7 of the trail).

USE CAUTION during hunting season Firearms season.
Blaze orange recommended

The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen has marked and maintains 25 miles of scenic trails in the mountains. Information and trail maps are available through the nature foundation’s office at the Trillium House at Wintergreen.  3421 Wintergreen Drive, Roseland, VA 434-325-8169

White Rock Falls (Milepost 19) Blue Ridge Parkway -The 2 1/5 mile moderate hike highlights an impressive gorge, which has a waterfall and a natural wading pool.  On the climb back up to the Parkway, you will be treated to glimpses of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Northeast. The trail can easily be combined with other trails to make for a longer hike. To create a 5 mile loop, combine it with the Slacks Overlook Trail. Park at the Slacks Overlook and the trail starts about 60 yards ahead on the right side of the Blue Ridge Parkway

For More Information About Hiking and All Aspects of Nelson County, Visit