December 21, 2021

Wanderlove on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs 469 miles through the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. To its millions of travelers annually, this mountaintop roadway is known for its scenic beauty, historic attractions, and abundant outdoor recreation. Riding on the Parkway can give you that much-needed getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life. You can drive for hours without seeing much civilization. The Parkway passes by many historic sites, hiking trails, wineries, and other gems. Explore them all on your ride through Patrick County on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Rocky Knob Recreation Area

North of the Meadows of Dan Village you will find the Rocky Knob Recreation Area. This expansive section of the Parkway is shared with the neighboring county of Floyd. Here there are many trails ranging from easy to difficult. The most challenging is the Rock Castle Gorge National Recreation Trail, a 10.4-mile loop offering intense elevations, meadow strolls, steep descents, historical hideaways, abundant wildlife, and even a waterfall. There are many other easier, shorter hikes within Rocky Knob that range from one to three miles long and also include beautiful views and opportunities to view the local wildlife. The Rocky Knob Visitors Center is open Friday through Monday from 10 AM until 5 PM for area information and assistance. Pitch your tent or park your camper at the Rocky Knob Campground. Reservations are not necessary but are always helpful. Go to www.recreation.gov or call (877) 444-6777 for more information on campground reservations.

Wineries on the Parkway

Wine lovers will enjoy the two neighboring wineries in this section of the Parkway. Villa Appalaccia (which sits next to the famous festival grounds of Floydfest) is a charming, Italian-inspired winery. Those with a taste for drier, European-styled wines will find themselves at home in the Villa's open-aired tasting room. Villa Appalaccia offers music on Saturday afternoons in the summer. Just down the road is the well known Chateau Morrisette Winery & Restaurant. The largest producing winery in Virginia, Chateau Morrisette offers guests an expansive tasting room and gift shop. Both wineries are dog friendly! Chateau Morrisette has three wines named after dogs in honor of the late David Morisettee's own beloved canine companion. Both locations have spacious outdoor areas for relaxing with your glass while you take in the beautiful scenery.

Puckett Cabin

Puckett Cabin

At milepost 189.9 sits a small rustic cabin which was once the home of an incredible mountain woman. Orlean Hawks Puckett was born in the mid-1800s and moved to the area after marrying her husband around the age of 16. She had her first child in 1862 who only survived a few months. She had 23 other babies throughout her life, but none survived more than a few days. Later in 1898, out of a sheer need in the area, Orlean found herself as the region's midwife. She became known for her skills and compassion, traveling up to 20 miles to deliver babies. She successfully delivered over 1,000 mountain children during her time, and never once lost a mother or baby in the process. Though she could not have one of her own (possibly due to Rh hemolytic disease) she was responsible for the successful population of this area of the Blue Ridge Mountains, including the famed Rev. Robert Childress, builder and founder of the rock churches, and subject of the book Man Who Moved a Mountain.

Round Meadow Creek Trail & Overlook

Round Meadow Creek Trail & Overlook

Take an easy 20-minute walk on the Round Meadow Creek loop trail at milepost 179.3. Take the right fork at the start of the trail to gradually descend into a hollow. Walk through a grove of giant white pines, see colorful flowers and patches of ferns, and walk along a creek that is deep enough to wade in (and cool in the summer!). Continuing on the loop, you will pass under the bridge at the bottom of the trail, and then once again as you near the trail's end at the top of the hill. This second pass under the bridge lends an amazing "underlook" of this engineering marvel. Short on time? Skip the walk and take the left fork at the beginning of the trail to quickly arrive at the overlook.

Mayberry

Mayberry

On the Andy Griffith Show, Andy talked about "the real Mayberry up on the mountain". Many believe this area was what the character was referring to, as the show was based on the neighboring town of Mount Airy, NC.

At milepost 180.5 sits the original Mayberry Trading Post. This general store built in 1892 was once the only place of commerce in the mountain community and originally served as the local post office. The store is still open to this day and offers visitors much of what was offered in its heyday. In the Fall, apple butter is made right outside the building. You can purchase homemade goods like wild elderberry jam or Mayberry souvenirs.

Just North of the Mayberry Trading Post on the Parkway is the Mayberry Presbyterian Church, one of many rock churches built by Rev. Robert Childress and written about in the book The Man Who Moved a Mountain.

Groundhog Meadows

Groundhog Meadows

Step back in time at the Groundhog Mountain Observation Tower at Groundhog Hill, located at milepost 189 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This structure was used by the Forest Service to watch for fires and other emergency situations. Climb the stairs to the top of the tower for amazing 360-views of the surrounding Mountains. This site also offers picnic tables and restrooms.

Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill

The historic Mabry Mill is the most photographed spot on the Parkway. You will find this exact mill pictured on postcards, framed prints and used on various "homestyle" product packaging and marketing across the world. This grist mill is over one hundred years old and is open to the public! In the Summer and early Fall Thursday through Sunday 10AM - 5PM, travelers can go inside the mill and learn how it operates with the help of an educational interpreter. See the newly renovated flume and watch the giant wheel turn with the water. There are also live demonstrations of blacksmiths, basket weavers and more. Listen to live traditional music on Sundays as well. After your tour, grab a seat at the restaurant just next door and purchase souvenirs from the gift shop.

Meadows of Dan

Meadows of Dan

At milepost 177.7 of the Blue Ridge Parkway you will see one of the rarest views on your ride: a town. In the Meadows of Dan Village, you will find your road trip essentials like gas, food at Jane's Country Cafe and lots of shopping. Stop in the Blue Ridge Visitors Center for area information and maps. Poppy's will warm your heart with locally hand-spun yarn, books, quality gifts, and alpaca-themed items.

Poor Farmers Market has a classic country store feel. Inside you will find souvenirs to satisfy every traveler's tastes, freshly prepared sandwiches and snacks, hand-scooped ice cream, glass bottle sodas, local honeys, jams, etc. as well as a few oddities here and there. Outside there are fresh seasonal fruits and veggies, potted plants, handmade wooden patio furniture, and much more.

Concord Corner Store sits at the edge of the village. This store sells high-quality artisan crafts from the surrounding area. Bring home something beautiful and special from your travels like beautiful quilts, jewelry, woodworks, glasswear, local beers and wines, and so much more.

Just past the main hub of the village is Nancy's Candy Company: a giant candy factory! Nancy's sells primarily wholesale around the world, but visitors to the factory don't have to buy in wholesale to leave with Nancy's sugary goodness (unless you just want to!). The retail storefront has every kind of candy you can imagine for purchase. Nancy's started out primarily making fudge, which has remained their specialty to this day. Alongside their famous fudge sits a variety of truffles and other chocolate-covered treats behind the counter. Around the sales floor are classic candies to take you back, novelty chocolates (like chocolate soap or Virginia-shaped chocolate bars), bagged snacks like cajun snack mix, a wall of Jelly Belly jelly beans and so much more. Along the back wall of the store are large windows where visitors can watch the candy being made in the factory on the weekdays. Be sure to take a selfie at their LOVE sign and tag #loveVA before you leave!

Explore beyond your own backyard with a road trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Patrick County, Virginia. Visit our website to learn more at VisitPatrickCounty.org.

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