The Blue Ridge Parkway is ranked “America’s most scenic drive” by leading travel writers. Following mountain crests through Virginia to North Carolina and Tennessee, the Parkway is the gateway to an Appalachian empire where visitors escape the speed and crowding of modern life. One of those gateways is to wonderful Smith Mountain Lake.
From the Peaks of Otter area located along the parkway just north of Bedford to the US Route 220 South exit heading into Franklin County, our section of the Parkway is full of awesome natural beauty, weathered pioneer cabins and splitrail fences. There are mountain forests, quiet river streams, wildlife and wildflowers—all looking over a patchwork of orchards and farms.
Included along this stretch of parkway are several attractions that make for a wonderful day. The Peaks of Otter offers a 5,000-acre area with hiking trails to three peaks: Sharp Top, Flat Top and Harkening Hill. Spend the day enjoying the Visitor Center, self-guided trail, historic farm, summer interpretive programs and picnic area.
At mile marker 120.4, exit to Roanoke Mountain (a drive loop). Follow the road to the wonderful Mill Mountain Park and Zoo, picnic facilities and the giant Star that earned the city of Roanoke the name “Star City of the South.”
Mile Marker 121.4 is the exit for US Rt. 220 South taking you through Boones Mill to Rocky Mount and back to State Route 122 and Smith Mountain Lake.