Friday is the day for rolling down the windows and rolling out of town, headed for adventures that relax and invigorate. These seven stress-busting weekend ideas will help you fully rejuvenate, but they come with a warning: with this much fun, you may never want your weekend to end.
Where the Skyline Drive meets the Blue Ridge Parkway lies basecamp: an outdoor trail town ready to launch unforgettable adventures, with memories for years to come. You won’t want to miss any of these Bucket List Views, which range from the curbside-accessible to all-day mountain adventure, all a short drive from Waynesboro, Virginia.
Spy Rock: 360 Degrees of Grandeur
Described by some as “the best viewpoint in the central Blue Ridge” Spy Rock offers a fully panoramic view including the neighboring mountain summits of the Priest and the Three Ridges. At nearly 4,000 feet of elevation, visitors will breath fresh mountain air while “standing on top of the world.”
Late spring is the season of long evening daylight and beckoning weather. Luckily, Waynesboro offers the perfect mountain-town amenities for a sunset jog, a quick afternoon float, or an evening cycle through the Valley. These five adventures promise the mood-boosting benefits of time in nature, while utilizing the accessibility of local parks and backyard trail systems.
(1) Paddle the Waynesboro Water Trail
The Waynesboro Water Trail links five City parks in a four-mile run that includes a mix of Class I and II rapids, wilderness-level solitude, industrial skylines, and downtown take outs. With its surprising views into many unexpected corners of Waynesboro, it’s a unique way of exploring the City while staying cool, shaded, and on the water. Allow 2-3 hours to float the full South River Blueway from Ridgeview Park to Basic Park. A wide diversity of take out options help paddlers break the float into smaller sections or extend their trip to include Grand Caverns Park or the Port Republic confluence with the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.
(2) Stroll through the Parks
There’s not much more satisfying than a run with man’s best friend through open fields past freshly blooming parklands. Coyner Springs Park offers a rustic 145 acres that include nature trails, a leash-free dog park, kite-flying skies, disc golf, and enough wilderness to offer up frequent sightings of red-tailed hawks, woodpeckers, and foxes.
Joggers, baby strollers, and evening walkers find their riverside delights along the South River Greenway, a mile-long stretch of paved walking and biking surface that includes a river overlook, picnic shelter, and downtown access to after-walk drinks and dinner options.
(3) Cycle the Valley
Follow the South River along the base of Sawmill Ridge and the Blue Ridge Mountains in this evening, 12.5 mile bike ride called the Waynesboro Dooms Loop. For a longer, 35-mile pull, the Waynesboro to Grottoes Loop also hugs the river, offering a tour of the inflection between the Valley bottom and Blue Ridge topography, while still promising some of the flattest roads in Augusta County.
Both loops begin and end in downtown Waynesboro, promising enough in-town, gourmet calories to replenish the toughest ride. Cyclists are welcome along all three of Waynesboro Beerwerks Trail brewery destinations.
(4) Downtown Fly Fishing
The dinner-to-adventure jaunt can be shorter than a bike ride, as the South River’s Urban Trout Fishery offers fly fishing opportunities within a block of the downtown cultural core. Rare is the springtime day that a fisherman can’t be seen wading near the improved trout habitat and rock cascades of Constitution Park. Nearby South River Fly Shop offers equipment, gear, guided tours, and “big fish stories,” including a weekly Ties and Lies night. The South River itself offers spring-fed waters, ripping whitewater, easy parking, and exceptional catch-and-release trout fishing opportunities.
(5) Catch the Perfect Sunset (Sunset Park, Humpback Rocks)
Sunset Park, with sweeping views overlooking all of Waynesboro, remains under construction — but don’t be surprised to find weekly contingents of local mountain bikers building trails and readying its amenities for prime time. Outdoor enthusiasts seeking panoramic views needn’t wait, however. The Humpback Rocks trail system offers granite pinnacles in only one mile of climbing, with spectacular views of the Rockfish and Shenandoah Valleys. Longer excursions to Humpback Mountain (2 miles) and to a developed picnic area (4 miles) allows a choose your own adventure that can fit in an after-work nature-reset or expand to an all-day mountain top excursion.
Humpback Rocks trail includes both blue and white blazes, proof of its intersection with the nation’s “premier hiking path,” the 2,000 mile Appalachian Trail that runs from Georgia to Maine. “Day hikers” may encounter thru-hikers part-way through their adventure, with opportunities to swap stories and marvel that some of the mountains’ most breathtaking destinations are but backyard explorations from Waynesboro.
Life in the mountains…Waynesboro, VA
Sometimes the ride is as exhilarating and beautiful as any destination. If you’re looking for sweeping turns, windswept mountain vistas, or country roads to cruise, these bicycle and motorcycle itineraries are sure to inspire.
Pedaling on Pavement
Day Trip Tours from Waynesboro are plentiful. Beginners and family-friendly options include the South River Greenway, stretching from Constitution Park and meandering along the South River, which on Saturday mornings features the Waynesboro Farmers Market. Or stretch a little further with the 12.5 mile Waynesboro-to-Dooms Day Loop, which takes you along the South River as it flows north towards its confluence with the North River. Intermediate riders may love the Waynesboro-to-Grottoes Loop which, over the course of 35 miles, can include a tour of Grand Caverns in the town of Grottoes and passes the renowned horticulturalist André Viette’s extensive perennial garden and nursery on Long Meadow Road. Don’t be shy about exploring other options, as Bike the Valley’s database of On Road rides remains extensive.
Outdoor adventures are fueled by more than good cheer: Great food and delicious hydration all contribute to the perfect day in the woods. From mountain treks to parkway picnics, we’ve paired the flavor of local food with the taste of adventure for every style of outdoor recreation.
Spring is the season where the water is up, the warm weather invites, and the natural world bursts with new possibilities. It’s the season for trout fishing Saturdays, festivals and childhood wonder, and of course lazy river floats. If the season has you feeling as restless as the birds, Waynesboro has a golden suite of river and water adventures perfect for the whole family to celebrate spring.
Toughest Rides, Hikes, and Climbs Near Waynesboro, VA
Think you need to trek out west for extreme outdoor adventures? Think again! Rugged hikes, epic mountain biking, and exhilarating climbs are all just a short drive from the urban bustle of Washington, D.C., Fredericksburg, and Richmond. Base your adventures here in Waynesboro, VA and you’ll be smack in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley with quick access to Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, the Appalachian Trail, and the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountain Ranges.
But hold up, there’s a bonus! Waynesboro has all the stuff you need when you come off the trail – gear repair, great local food, killer craft beer options, to-die-for coffee shops (yes, with wifi!), and friendly locals to answer your questions. We’re an Appalachian Trail Community and the people you meet on the streets of Waynesboro may have just come off the trail themselves! Get their take on the toughest adventures around and add them to this challenge list.
Pumped Up for Bikepacking
Ready to break free from the city and get down to basics? Rack the bike and gun it to the Shenandoah Valley to access the most extreme trail around. Just remember, you’ve been warned: The Virginia Mountain Bike Trail is no joke. It’s a 473-mile epic backcountry expedition along the length of Virginia’s Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountain Ranges. You, your wheels, and your gear need to be at peak performance. Before you even think about launching into the wilderness, spend some time at Rockfish Gap Outfitters in Waynesboro. Whether you’re looking for a tune-up, overhaul, or fresh new wheels and gear, these are the pros you want helping you prep.
Don’t have 10 sick days to allocate to The Virginia Mountain Bike Trail? Take a look instead at the Blue Ridge Wrangler. This challenging 158-mile loop starts and ends near Waynesboro, so it’s readily accessible for a long weekend getaway from the big city.
Into the Wild
The Priest Wilderness is 5,994 acres of rugged beauty in west central Virginia. To summit the Priest is to have conquered what is considered by many to be one of the toughest day hikes on the Appalachian Trail. This is due in part to an unrelenting elevation gain of 3,000 feet in one 4-mile stretch of the trail. As one hiker puts it, this is “the hike that gives you the most bang for your climbing buck in the entire state.”
For another intense workout, check out Three Ridges. It’s another quad-burner, with nearly 4,000 feet in elevation gain. But tackle this hike and you’re rewarded with vista after vista and small waterfalls.
On Top of the World
Looking for exhilaration and the best views around? Then you’ll want to book a rock- or ice-climbing trip with Blue Ridge Mountain Guides. Whether this is your first ascent or you’re a die-hard climber, these instructors can tailor climbs to fit your goals. To share in your glory, rope in a few of your buddies and conquer the mountain (and your fears) together!
So which adventure is calling you? “Schedule” those sick days and get ready to play hard in Waynesboro, Virginia!
The 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail (A.T.) travels through 14 states on its course from Georgia to Maine. A thru-hike along the length of the A.T. challenges hikers both physically and mentally and is frequently described as “life-changing.” 540 miles of the A.T. wind through Virginia, more than through any other state, and hikers often refer to the infamous “Virginia Blues” – the feeling that they’re not making progress and the state will never end. Appalachian Trail Communities like Waynesboro, Virginia, know how important support and rejuvenation are to the weary hiker.
“We had a great trail magic moment on Mother’s Day when we were hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway. A local woman brought an amazing spread of sandwiches, pastries, chips, fresh fruit, and drinks to a place where the trail crossed the Parkway. She kept saying, ‘Call your mothers and let them know that there’s another mother out here taking care of you!’ It was so sweet.” ~ Staige Davis and Andrea Parra, thru-hikers
Unforgettable Waynesboro Winter Getaways
What does the ideal winter getaway look like for you? Some of us eagerly anticipate cold weather sports and recreation. Others look forward to spending the dark evenings in the company and laughter of friends. For many, a winter night should be paired with a good book and a strong fire. This winter season, find the joy and comforts you crave in Waynesboro, VA!
For the Foodie, enjoying rich flavors and colorful dishes is the perfect way to spend a winter weekend. Start your mornings sipping coffee or hot chocolate by the fireplace in the Iris Inn’s sunlit Great Room, then savor a relaxing and fulfilling breakfast designed by the Iris Inn’s Chef and full kitchen staff. For a real treat add a Sip and Simmer Cabin Dinner to your stay. the Iris Inn’s Chef will prepare a seasonal dinner where you add the finishing touches, pair with local wines, and enjoy right in the privacy of your own cabin.