Things to Do in Lexington VA Outdoors
John Muir wrote of Yosemite, “The mountains are calling & I must go …”
The mountains surrounding Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County beckon much the same way. Like Muir, modern day naturalists seek to preserve, understand and enjoy the great outdoors. We welcome you to “Get Outside” in our great outdoors.
The Maury River begins and ends in Rockbridge County. Near its head-waters is Goshen Pass, a popular fishing and swimming destination that also appeals to whitewater-loving kayakers in the spring. Closer to its confluence with the James River, the Maury is paralleled by the Chessie Nature Trail for seven miles. Hikers, joggers and cyclists frequent the trail, and bike rentals are available through Red Newt Bikes. For on-road routes, including the TransAmerica Trail, look to Bike the Valley for local recommendations.
The Upper James River Water Trail includes the lower portion of the Maury River and the James River as it passes through Glasgow and Natural Bridge. This stretch of waterway is fantastic for kayaking, canoeing and tubing. Contact Wilderness Canoe Company to rent your preferred vessel and get expert advice on how best to navigate the waters. For fishermen, Fish Virginia First is an excellent resource for locating specific populations of native biters.
Bordering the Maury River as it makes its way to meet the James, Glen Maury Park is a 600-acre city park that includes river access, camping, swimming pool, picnic areas, playgrounds and an adjacent 18-hole golf course, The Vista Links. The park’s wide open spaces, sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and wooded trails are additional attractive amenities.
House Mountain is the most recognizable landmark on the horizon in Rockbridge County, but the iconic Natural Bridge is world renowned. Once called one of “Seven Natural Wonders of the World,” the Natural Bridge is now the centerpiece of Natural Bridge State Park. Marvel at the soaring limestone arch as you walk beneath it on the Cedar Creek Trail. Nearby, the Caverns at Natural Bridge are the deepest caverns on the East Coast; a must see!
Settle in for a horse show between grand outdoor excursions. The Virginia Horse Center is Virginia’s premier competition center for equestrian sports for all breeds and all disciplines. It’s also one of the more popular venues for community events as well.
To the west, the Blue Ridge Mountains border Rockbridge County, and atop them, the Blue Ridge Parkway travels north to south. Often called “America’s Most Scenic Drive,” the Parkway is accessible from Vesuvius, Buena Vista and Glasgow. Park the car and hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail, the 2,181-mile mountain path between Georgia and Maine.
For a taste of what the trail life is like, park at the lot near MP 51.7 and hike the white blazed trail southward. At .4 mile, take the trail that juts off toward The Punchbowl Shelter, a place of reprieve for AT hikers; be sure to take a look at the trail log for neat stories. Head back to the AT and continue on to Bluff Mountain. While only about two miles from the parking lot, it’s a steep ascent that rewards with views and a small memorial monument for Ottie Cline Powell, a 4-year-old boy who was lost in the snow on the mountain in 1890. Trek back to your car and boast of your not-so-easy hike on the famous Appalachian Trail.
After a hike, bike or paddle, a craft beer can be part of a well-earned victory celebration. Our local craft breweries are part of the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, which rewards craft beer connoisseurs who travel the Trail. Simply collect a stamp at each brewery and redeem a full passport for a T-shirt. It’s just one more way you can remember that time you chose to Get Outside in Rockbridge County, Virginia. For more information, visit RockbridgeOutdoors.com.
Annual Events in Rockbridge County
The Bonnie Blue National Horse Show
Class ‘A’ show at the Virginia Horse Center in mid-May.
Garden Tour Day in Lexington
Tour a variety of gardens in the downtown Lexington area in late April
Celebrate the holidays with caroling, parades, open houses, stories with Mrs. Claus, special children’s events, theater productions, choral presentations and more.
Labor Day Celebration
A home-town celebration at Glen Maury Park that includes a parade, arts and crafts, live entertainment, children’s games, a baby contest and food and drinks.
Natural Bridge Sunrise Service
A triumphant, non-denominational Easter message delivered under the truly magnificent Natural Bridge. Special music, free admission.
New Market Day Ceremony
An impressive ceremony held May 15 at Virginia Military Institute to honor the V.M.I. cadets who died on the New Market Battlefield in the Civil War.
Rockbridge Community Festival
An old-fashioned arts and crafts festival with music and events for children. Held on the streets of Lexington the last Saturday in August.
Rockbridge Wine Festival
This fun event is held annually in September at Lime Kiln Theater. Food, wine tasting and music throughout the day.
Rockbridge Regional Fair
A county fair with exhibits, livestock, food, a carnival and evening entertainment held in July.
Sunrise Rotary 4th of July Hot Air Balloon Rally
Featuring piloted and tethered hot air balloon rides, live musical entertainment, children’s activities, lots of food and a dazzling fireworks display on the evening of the 4th. All activities take place on the parade grounds at Virginia Military Institute.