How to Get Outside to Enjoy a Waynesboro Winter Day
The Waynesboro area is known for its incredible year-round hiking, but not everybody wants to brave the wind at the top of a mountain in the winter. Fortunately, there are plenty of other things to do outside in Waynesboro when it’s cold. Here are our picks for fun and where to chow down afterwards!
Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel
It’s been 20 years in the making, but the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel is finally restored and open to the public! Hikers and bikers share the 2.25-mile trail that stretches from the western trailhead in Waynesboro all the way through the mountain to the eastern trailhead in Nelson County. You’ll be pleased to discover that the tunnel keeps a constant 50 degrees, even on the coldest (or hottest) days of the year, making it suitable for all seasons. You’ll need to bring a flashlight or a headlamp because the mile-long tunnel isn’t lit, and when it fills with fog, it’s difficult to see light at the far end. Inside, you’ll find stone and brick walls as well as trickles and pools of water. If you look closely, you might spot a salamander or a crawfish. The railroad tunnel was dug by Irish immigrant laborers and completed in 1858. At that time, it was the longest railroad tunnel in North America. The tunnel was used until 1944 when it was replaced with the nearby operational tunnel that can handle larger trains.
Fishing in the South River
Put on your waders and gather your gear for some fishing in the South River, which flows through Waynesboro’s downtown and is known for some of the best trout fishing in the state. Fish rise all year in this urban fishery, and it’s a popular destination for fly fishermen, even in the winter. Make sure you have your current fishing license and check out a map of the area so you can find easy access points and learn the regulations and catch limits for each section. A popular stretch of the river is along the South River Greenway near Constitution Park, where it’s easy to wade, and where Shenandoah Valley Trout United and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fishing have erected stream-improvement structures. The structures create pools and other fish habitat areas where fish can safely feed and spawn. Another excellent spot to fish is the fishing pier in Ridgeview Park. If you need gear, a guide, or a special permit, stop in at the South River Fly Shop.
Street Arts Trail
A great way to mix culture and the outdoors is a stroll along the Waynesboro Street Arts Trail. Bundle up and download the free Traipse app to your phone. The app will guide you on a scavenger hunt of sorts as you answer questions and track down the dozen-plus murals that pop up in the most interesting places in Waynesboro’s downtown streetscape. You’ll discover larger-than-life art by Nils Westergard, Julia Chon, and more that has been added to existing walls and buildings, some stretching high into the air. Make sure to check out the new murals around Lumos Plaza, the Waynesboro Fire Department, and Commerce Ave. that were added during the 2021 Street Arts Festival.
Warm up with a Bite to Eat
After a long day of being outside or underground, you might want to avoid a fancy restaurant and simply head back to your home base with some takeout. Waynesboro has a variety of options, but one way to appease some serious hunger is to grab a sack of subs and a Mix-a-Six at Mister Jamison’s, where you’ll be able to choose from over a hundred different types of craft beer.
If you’re craving a gooey, cheesy pizza, you’ll want to tackle a slice (which requires multiple plates to hold it) or an entire 28-inch pizza at Benny Stivale’s. Each month Benny’s augments the regular menu with decadent special pizzas; one with meat (did someone say buffalo chicken?) and one vegetarian (spinach and artichoke, perhaps?). Fun fact: Each Benny’s location has a unique name. The word “stivales” means rain boots in Italian, and the choice of name is a nod to high water along the South River.
Waynesboro offers endless outdoor fun all year long. There are lots of ways to get your Vitamin-D, even when the weather is chilly!