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Hike Smith Mountain

Sept. 16, 2020
Smith Mountain Lake (SML) is among the most popular residential, vacation and recreational spots on the East Coast. Set amid the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, SML is a breathtakingly scenic destination with 22,000 acres of crystal-clear water, making it a top destination for adventure. Vacationers from across the globe come to SML during all four seasons, and usually end up discovering a variety of unexpected delights such as on- and off-water outdoor activities, cultural experiences and the winding roads in between. 

Experience WanderLove at SML

This is the second in a series of SML WanderLove blog posts focused on off-water cultural experiences and outdoor adventure at Smith Mountain Lake. 

Our first blog post highlighted on-water adventures.  Be sure to check back next month as we will feature fall experiences and spotlight additional dining and entertainment options in the region. 

While being on the water is a favorite pastime at SML, there are plenty of off-water adventures to enjoy that don’t involve packing a swimsuit. The area is rich in history and culture and offers golf, hiking trails, farms and delicious dining options. 

With temperatures beginning to dip, use the months of September and October to really experience the culture of and adventure in our lake community by using this suggested itinerary to plan your day or weekend. 

Before Your Visit:

✅  Book your overnight accommodations.

✅  Book an Alpaca farm tour at Pacabella Farm Alpacas & Boutique, Alpacas of Smith Mountain Lake Farm or A Goode View Alpaca Farm

✅  Book a tee time at one of two renowned 18-hole championship golf courses at SML – The Mariners Club at Mariners Landing or The Westlake.

✅  Book an aerial sightseeing tour with SML Aviation

✅  Book a horseback trail ride with Slocum’s Appaloosa Ranch.

✅  Check the calendar on Visit Smith Mountain Lake’s website for live music and other events happening during your stay.

✅  Browse the 2020 Smith Mountain Lake Visitor Guide or request a print version to be mailed to you for free.

Your Road Trip Weekend Has Arrived

NOTE: If traveling in on the weekend of Oct. 23, be sure to grab your tickets for SML’s first Drive-In Concert that Friday night!

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Day 1 / Saturday

8:30 a.m. Breakfast at Old Oak Café where everyone raves about the Cinnamon Sweet Potato Pancakes or Hot Shots where you should try the Hot Shots Big Breakfast. If pressed for time, sample one of our fast food options such as Bojangles, Subway, or Wendy’s.

10 a.m. Head to Bridgewater Plaza to check out the SML Visitor’s Center for your free map, the latest print copy of the Visitor Guide and souvenirs.

10:45 a.m. Get a history lesson at the Booker T. Washington National Monument which commemorates the birthplace of America’s most prominent African American educator. The monument is open for self-guided walking tours and has two scenic walking trails to enjoy. 

Noon: Visit Smith Mountain Lake Community Park where you’ll find a fishing pier, picnic shelters, playground, trails and community beach. The park trail system totals three miles of pleasant lake and wooded-view hiking.

1 p.m. Enjoy tasty sandwiches and ice cream at Homestead Creamery overlooking the rolling hills of Franklin County. Their flavorful ice cream is made with minimally pasteurized milk to lock in creamy texture and decadent flavor in every scoop. 

2 p.m. Take an alpaca farm tour at Pacabella Farm Alpacas & Boutique, free of charge, or Alpacas of Smith Mountain Lake Farm, the film location of the movie, Princess Cut 3.

3:30 p.m. Stop by Beckner’s Produce, an open-air market offering local produce grown on a fourth-generation farm. You’ll know fall is in the air when you spot sweet potatoes, pumpkins and apples. Fresh baked goods also are available from the family kitchen! 

5 p.m. Check into your accommodations for the night. 

6:30 p.m. Grab some North Carolina-style barbeque with a Franklin County Moonshine Twist at Buddy’s BBQ, or Ippy’s Restaurant & Lounge known for exceptional entrees, savory sides and live music. Click here for a list of area restaurants. 

8 p.m. Finish out day one by raising a glass with spirits at Chaos Mountain Brewing, known for their distinctive brewing style, or Franklin County Distillery, a trendy distillery serving small-batch spirits with a dash of Franklin County’s infamous bootlegging history.

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Day 2 / Sunday

7:30 a.m. Golf tee-time at The Mariners Club at Mariners Landing or The Westlake

11 a.m. Attend church at EastLake Community Church, Bethlehem United Methodist Church, Palestine Baptist Church or Resurrection Catholic Church.

12:30 p.m. Lunch at The Dam Grill. Try the French Fried Dam Nachos for an appetizer. You won’t be disappointed!

2 p.m. You’ve got several options for the afternoon:

Option 1: See Smith Mountain Lake from the sky with SML Aviation. Experience a bird’s-eye view of the lake and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Customized 30-minute aerial tours available.

Option 2: Burn off those nacho calories with a hike up the Smith Mountain Cooperative Wildlife Management Area Trail. This area encompasses nearly 5,000 acres in Bedford and Pittsylvania counties, which is split into two areas on both sides of the Smith Mountain Dam and makes for a beautiful hike this time of year.

Option 3: Visit Smith Mountain Lake State Park where you can participate in numerous activities in September and October such as hiking, biking, fishing and boating.

4 p.m. If you opted for the aerial tour of Smith Mountain Lake or a State Park adventure, wrap up your day with a horseback trail ride at Slocum’s Appaloosa Ranch or more time with alpacas at A Goode View Alpaca Farm.

7:30 p.m. Dinner at The Copper Kettle which offers breathtaking mountain views on the patio or Napoli Cowboy, where the tastes of Texas and Italy collide. Click here for a list of area restaurants.

Stay tuned for the next blog in our series titled, Fall in Love with Smith Mountain Lake, coming in late October. The blog will include additional restaurant spotlights, historical sites and great attractions.

Mark your calendar for these 2021 events:

  • SML Wine Festival – Sept. 25-26, 2021
  • SML Antique & Classic Boat Festival & Show – Sept. 18, 2021
  • SML Charity Home Tour – October 8-10, 2021
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