As you all know, living in the Shenandoah Valley is a true blessing. We have the gorgeous mountains, quaint historic towns, and our towns keep getting named as one of the best in various travel magazines (Staunton, #18 mountain town in the US)!
Last week I focused on Gypsy Hill Park
(a true gem). This week I am going to chat about some of the great hiking/walking destinations within a short 30 (or so) minute drive from Staunton. These are not the tough hikes…as we have little ones. But they are definitely a lot of fun!
Augusta Springs Wetland Trails:
This is one of our favorites! When the kids are restless we hop in the car and head out here. What I love is, not only do they get much needed exercise, but it’s a learning experience as well. Okay, technically anything can be a learning experience, but this trail provides directional learning.
Located about 20 minutes to the west of Staunton, the Augusta Springs Wetlands Trail
(ASWT) is only a 3/4 of a mile hike. It is flat and easy to walk or push a stroller. There are two ponds and kiddos can observe all sorts of wildlife. My little guys like to wander down to the stream and put their feet in. After our walk, I break out the snacks and sippy cups and we sit under a tree or on the benches. It is a really nice way to spend a morning.
and Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm Trail
: Another favorite! Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Humpback Rocks is a fixture in the Valley. While many enjoy the 1 mile hike up to the rocks, if you are traveling with people who have little legs, this can be a tough hike. Heck, with an 800 foot ascension to a peak of 3,080 feet, it can be a tough hike for those with longer legs as well.
One alternative, that also provides an excellent learning opportunity, is the Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm Trail. At .25 miles in (.5 miles total), the path takes you through an 1890’s replica homestead and farm. The path is fairly firm and strollers can be pushed. You can visit a cabin, barns, chicken coops and other outbuildings. Plus there is a vegetable garden and natural wildlife present. In the summer months, there are interpretive actors at various times who can provide additional information, facts and a great history lesson.
My kids love rambling along this farm trail. They get to climb on things, look under other things, and in general play with things. Just watch out for the snakes along the rock walls.
St. Mary’s Wilderness Hike
: Okay, I’m sure some of you are scratching your head on this one. It is not an easy hike for little ones. It is a good idea to bring along an extra set of hands to help little ones climb over the fallen trees, and navigate the narrower passes.
Located about 30 minutes south of Staunton, near Steeles Tavern
, this is one of my favorite hikes (in fact it’s the place I suggested to Matt for our first date)! Hurricane Isabel did a number on the trail, and unfortunately it has not been cleaned up. But, we still like to venture in and explore. It is too difficult to take the kids up to the falls, but there is enough to look at, that even a short mile hike in, is plenty.
Afterwards, make sure you treat yourself to lunch at Gertie’s Country Store and Deli
. There is not one item on the menu that is healthy, but the food is great. Really, you must visit. I LOVE this place.
These are just 3 of the many, many, many places to hike. What are some of your favorites?