More Than a Scenic Drive: Waynesboro is Divinely Placed for Your Leaf Peeping Adventure
Sherando Lake photo by Brad Johnson of Impulse Image Photography
n.The activity of traveling in the fall to areas wooded with deciduous forests to view the changing color of the leaves.
No doubt you’ve heard that the iconic Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway are famous destinations for leaf peeping, and anyone who’s visited Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley in autumn will attest that fall motor touring is spectacular. For those looking for a dash of adventure to round out those scenic drives, Waynesboro is the perfect place to start. Here are some ways to take your leaf peeping to a whole new level of fun, with peak foliage just around the corner!
Blue Ridge Parkway from Humpack Rocks photo by Brad Johnson of Impulse Image Photography
EXPERIENCE A NATIONAL TREASURE
With the southern entrance to Skyline Drive located just three miles from Waynesboro, start your autumn adventure with a drive through Shenandoah National Park, a designated National Scenic Byway and Historic Landmark. Over 300 species of wildlife and more than 1,400 species of plants are found in the Park. An extensive network of trails and 75 strategically-placed overlooks provide ample opportunity to experience this protected wilderness. Ranger-guided tours of President Hoover’s summer retreat, Rapidan Camp, visitor center exhibits, and park programs give visitors an up-close look at the natural and cultural history of the Park.
ADD HISTORIC PERSPECTIVE
For a mix of scenic beauty and historic perspective, follow the Civil War Trails Route 250 Corridor from Waynesboro’s Plumb House (currently closed through the end of October) to Camp Allegheny at the West Virginia border. Landmarks, activities, and interpretive signs along the route include a wartime farmstead, overlooks, a walking trail, and quaint towns to explore. Civil War Trails' interactive map will help you plan your trip to take full advantage of October’s gorgeous autumn days.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE LANDSCAPE
ON FOOT. Get off the roads and into the wilderness with a family-friendly hike to Saint Mary’s Falls. Virginia’s largest designated wilderness area, Saint Mary’s Wilderness is over 9,800 acres of vistas, waterfalls, fern forests, meadows, and wetlands. With seventeen miles of trails, this is also a destination for those hikers looking for a challenge.
ON HORSEBACK. Travel under, through, and above autumn colors on horseback with a half-day, full-day, or overnight adventure in George Washington National Forest with North Mountain Outfitter. Their gorgeous mountain trail rides include the region’s highest points, ridges, streams, & valleys. Reserve your saddle today to experience the Shenandoah Valley’s fall foliage from a whole new perspective.
BY BIKE. When it comes to autumn bike rides, you have a lot of choices near Waynesboro. For a scenic ride along some of our county’s flattest road miles, Bike the Valley recommends this Waynesboro to Grottoes loop. Up for a bigger challenge? Check out the Big Levels / Sherando mountain biking trail system! Recommended by the outdoor pros at Rockfish Gap Outfitters, the Sherando Lake Recreation Area in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests offers mountain bikers 20 miles of single track trails and dirt/paved roads. Reward your efforts by taking the fire road over to the Blue Ridge Parkway and sailing down 6 miles of “America’s Favorite Drive (Ride).” You also have the option of connecting with U.S. Bicycle Route 76.
To time your Waynesboro visit for peak leaf peeping, check in on the Virginia Department of Forestry’s weekly fall foliage update.