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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tackett

Blog 3: Explore Smith Mountain Lake, VA: Fishing, Boating, Hiking, Wineries, Culinary Delights & Unique Attractions.




Smith Mountain Lake, cradled by the scenic landscapes of Virginia's Blue Ridge region, stands as a beacon for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The surrounding area offers a variety of natural attractions and activities that highlight the beauty of Virginia's landscape.


Exploring Smith Mountain Lake and Surrounding Natural Beauty

Smith Mountain Lake, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. The surrounding area offers a variety of natural attractions and activities that highlight the beauty of Virginia’s landscape.


Hiking Trails Around Smith Mountain Lake

The area around Smith Mountain Lake is rich in hiking opportunities that provide breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Trails in Smith Mountain Lake State Park, for example, offer a range of experiences for all skill levels, from leisurely walks to more challenging hikes.


Here’s an overview of the trails in and around Smith Mountain Lake:


Smith Mountain Lake State Park Trails

Smith Mountain Lake State Park is a primary destination for hikers looking to explore the area. The park offers over a dozen trails that traverse through diverse landscapes, including hardwood forests, pine stands, and scenic shoreline paths.


  • Turtle Island Trail: An easy, family-friendly trail that loops around Turtle Island. This 1.6-mile trail is perfect for a quick and scenic hike, offering views of the lake and opportunities to spot wildlife. Website: Turtle Island Trail

  • Striper Cove Trail: A moderate 3-mile loop that takes hikers through varied terrains, including wooded areas and lake viewpoints. It’s well-marked and offers a peaceful hiking experience. Website: Striper Cover Trail

  • Chestnut Ridge Trail: This 0.9-mile loop trail is considered easy and is ideal for those looking for a short but rewarding hike. It features beautiful wildflowers in the spring and summer. Website: Chestnut Ridge Trail

  • Hickory Ridge Trail: A slightly more challenging 1.9-mile loop that offers beautiful views of the lake and passes through diverse ecosystems. The trail’s elevation changes make for a moderately strenuous hike. Website: Hickory Ridge Trail

Nearby Hiking Options

Beyond the state park, the Smith Mountain Lake area is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, providing additional hiking opportunities:


  • Read Mountain Preserve: Located a drive away from the lake, this preserve offers the 5-mile Buzzard Rock Trail, which is considered moderate to difficult. It leads to one of the best viewpoints in the Roanoke Valley. Website: Read Mountain Preserve

  • Peaks of Otter: Although a bit further away, the Peaks of Otter in the Blue Ridge Parkway offer several trails, including the challenging hike to Sharp Top Mountain. The effort is rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding area. Website: Peaks of Otter

Trail Etiquette and Safety

When exploring the trails around Smith Mountain Lake, and vicinity, it's important to follow standard hiking etiquette and safety practices. Stay on marked trails, carry water and snacks, wear appropriate footwear, and leave no trace to help preserve the natural beauty of the area. Additionally, checking trail conditions ahead of your visit can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


Whether you're looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, the trails around Smith Mountain Lake offer something for every outdoor enthusiast. With each path providing its unique view of Virginia’s stunning landscape, a day spent on the trails is a day spent immersed in the natural beauty that Smith Mountain Lake has to offer.


Nearby Natural Attractions

For those interested in waterfalls and natural scenery, the Blue Ridge Parkway is within driving distance of Smith Mountain Lake. This area is known for its stunning landscapes and features several waterfalls, including:


  • Crabtree Falls: One of Virginia’s tallest waterfalls, located about an hour and a half from Smith Mountain Lake. It’s a popular hiking destination with multiple cascades. Website: Crabtree Falls

  • Fallingwater Cascades: Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, this beautiful set of cascades is accessible via a loop trail that offers a relatively easy hike. Website: Fallingwater Cascades


Water Activities on Smith Mountain Lake: Where to Rent

At Smith Mountain Lake, the options for water-sport fun are as vast as the lake itself. From leisurely paddle-boarding and kayaking to adrenaline-pumping wakeboarding and jet skiing, there's something for every pace and preference.


Here’s where you can start:

  • Bridgewater Marina & Boat Rentals Offering a wide selection of rentals, Bridgewater Marina is your one-stop-shop for water-sports equipment. Choose from pontoon boats, wakeboard and waterski boats, jet skis, and much more. Their friendly staff are on hand to ensure you have everything you need for a day filled with excitement on the water. Website: Bridgewater Marina & Boat Rentals

  • Smith Mountain Lake Boat Rentals Dedicated to providing a top-notch boating experience, Smith Mountain Lake Boat Rentals boasts a fleet of well-maintained vessels perfect for fishing, cruising, or speeding across the lake. In addition, they offer water skis, wakeboards, and tubes for rent to add an extra thrill to your boating adventure. Website: Smith Mountain Lake Boat Rentals

  • Parkway Marina Parkway Marina is the gateway to peaceful yet invigorating water-sport activities. Here, you can rent kayaks, paddle-boards, and pedal boats – ideal for exploring the lake at your own pace. Their location also provides easy access to quieter coves and scenic inlets, perfect for those seeking a tranquil day on the water. Website: Parkway Marina

  • Captain's Quarters If you're looking to enhance your water-sport experience with a bit of luxury, Captain's Quarters offers yacht charters and high-end boat rentals. Imagine spending your day wakeboarding or water skiing behind a top-of-the-line boat, then relaxing in style as you cruise the lake at sunset. Website: Captain's Quarters


Safety First

While the thrill of water-sports can be exhilarating, safety should always be your top priority. Each rental facility at Smith Mountain Lake provides safety briefings and equipment, including life vests. Be sure to listen carefully to all instructions and abide by the lake’s regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


Local Vineyards and Culinary Experiences

The region around Smith Mountain Lake is also home to several vineyards and wineries, where visitors can enjoy tastings and tours. The local culinary scene benefits from the lake’s setting, with restaurants offering lakeside dining experiences that feature local ingredients and fresh catches.


In the Smith Mountain Lake area and its vicinity, several wineries offer a taste of Virginia's burgeoning wine scene. While specific names and offerings can evolve, here are a few established wineries near Smith Mountain Lake.


  • Hickory Hill Vineyards: Situated in Moneta, close to Smith Mountain Lake, Hickory Hill offers a range of wines that reflect the local terroir. With over 30 years of winemaking history, it's known for its full-bodied reds and crisp whites. Website: Hickory Hill Vineyards

  • Ramulose Ridge Vineyards: offers a selection of wines, including reds, whites, and dessert options, all enjoyed with panoramic views. Website: Ramulose Ridge Vineyards

  • Brooks Mill Winery specializes in fruit wines made from berries grown on their property. This winery offers a unique tasting experience with its variety of berry wines. Website: Brooks Mill Winery

These wineries, are nestled in the beautiful landscape of the Blue Ridge region, close to the Smith Mountain Lake area Each provides a unique glimpse into the local wine culture, offering tastings, tours, and special events that celebrate Virginia's wine heritage. Before visiting, it's a good idea to check their websites or contact them directly for the most current information on hours, and offerings.


Cultural and Historical Sites

In addition to natural beauty, the area boasts a variety of cultural and historical sites.

  • The Booker T. Washington National Monument stands as a poignant tribute to the life and legacy of Booker T. Washington, marking his birthplace and offering insightful exhibitions of his journey from slavery to becoming a prominent educator and leader, illuminating a crucial chapter in American History. Website: Booker T. Washington National Monument

  • The D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, serves as a powerful and solemn tribute to the brave soldiers who landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. On D-day, the small town of Bedford, Virginia, suffered a profound loss, with 19 of its soldiers killed on June 6th, This loss was particularly significant given the size of Bedford at the time, marking it as the community with the highest per capita D-Day losses in the United States. This meticulously designed memorial honors the courage, sacrifice, and pivotal moments of D-Day, providing visitors with a deeply moving experience that connects them to a defining event in world history. Website: The D-Day Memorial


  • Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest - his summer home and a stunning example of Jeffersonian architecture and the summer retreat of the third President of the United States, offering visitors a unique glimpse into the private world of one of America's founding fathers. Website: Thomas Jefferson's Popular Forest


Accommodations: Discover your perfect Smith Mountain Lake Getaway and Make Your Stay Unforgettable

To fully embrace the beauty and variety of Smith Mountain Lake, finding the right place to say is crucial. A comfortable, conveniently located home base can make all the difference in your vacation experience. The Lake House on Sunset Point is ideally situated in a quiet cover with wide-water views but also just a stone's throw away

from the lake's captivating attractions. Whether you're winding down from a day on the

lake, an day of hiking, a serene meal by the water, or recounting tales from a delightful afternoon at a local winery, The Lake House on Sunset Point offers a haven of comfort and relaxation. Discover your perfect Smith Mountain Lake getaway at The Lake House on Sunset Point - Your Gateway to Smith Mountain Lake.


Unique Attractions

Smith Mountain Lake is full of unique an offbeat attractions that offer something different from the usual lake activities. Here are just a few.

  • Feeding Carp at Bridge: water Plaza: An unexpectedly delightful activity, visitors can enjoy feeding large carp from the docks at Bridgewater Plaza. The fish are surprisingly friendly and the experience is memorable for both children and adults alike. Website: Feed the Carp

  • Smith Mountain Lake Farm Alpacas: For a change of pace, visit the alpaca farm near Smith Mountain Lake to meet these gentle, quirky animals. The farm offers tours where you can learn about alpacas, their care, and products made from their fleece. Website: Alpacas

  • The Virginia Dare: Discover Smith Mountain Lake aboard the Virginia Dare, a 19th century replica side-wheeler offering scenic cruises and elegant dining. Website: The Virginia Dare

Ensuring a Responsible Visit

When exploring Smith Mountain Lake and its surroundings, it's essential to practice responsible tourism. Respect wildlife, leave no trace, and adhere to local guidelines to preserve the beauty and integrity of the natural environment.


Smith Mountain Lake is more than just a body of water; it's a gateway to a wide array of natural, cultural, and culinary experiences. Whether you're seeking adventure on the trails, tranquility on the water, or cultural enrichment, the area around Smith Mountain Lake has something to offer everyone.

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