Virginia November 20, 2015
11 Enchanting Spots In Virginia You Never Knew Existed
Virginia is full of secret corners and hidden gems, with natural wonders both large and small. But sometimes finding these places can be tricky. We’ve put together a collection of a few of the lesser known places in the state – the ones that may not be at the top of every guide book. The following list is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to special places in the state, but they are certainly wonderful places to start as you explore the beauty that is Virginia.
1. Panther Falls, Buena Vista
Located just outside of Lexington in the George Washington National Forest, Panther Falls offers several deep swimming holes, stunning forests, and a waterfall that is nothing short of picture-perfect. Find out more about the falls’ location and local trails
2. Chief Benge Scout Trail, Scott and Wise Counties
Beginning at the High Knob Trailhead and High Knob Observation Tower, the Chief Benge Scout Trail winds through tranquil forests, along the shores of High Knob Lake, along the Little Stony, crossing the Mountain Fork Creek and past Bark Camp Lake. Although the trail ends at the Little Stony Falls Trailhead, many will go the extra half-mile to see the falls themselves. Chief Bob Benge, for whom the trail is named, was an infamous Native American chief, known for raiding European settlements throughout southwest Virginia in the late 1700's, killing dozens of settlers. The portion of the trail pictured here is near High Knob Lake.
to learn more about Chief Benge Scout Trail.
3. False Cape State Park, Virginia Beach
Far from the crowds of the boardwalk lies the False Bay State Park, one of the last undeveloped Atlantic Coast areas. The beautifully preserved landscape includes 6 miles of coastline and offers kayaking, camping, interpretive programs exploring the park’s Native American history, hiking, and biking trails. Cars are not allowed so the park can only be reached by foot, bike, beach transport, tram or boat so plan accordingly. Find out how to visit the park by visiting their website at
False Cape State Park
4. Carvin’s Cove, Roanoke
Located just outside of Roanoke, Carvin's Cove is the second largest city park in the nation at 12,700 acres. The park offers hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, and boat rentals -- all within a few miles of downtown Roanoke, the Appalachian Trail, and incredible hikes like McAfee's Knob and Tinker Cliffs. Learn more at
5. Prince William Forest Park, Prince William County
This stunning park is considered one of Northern Virginia’s best kept secrets. Located near Quantico, the park is the largest protected natural area in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. With hiking trails, wildlife, and natural beauty in abundance, it's like a place that time forgot. Find out how to visit the park at the
National Park Service
6. Alum Springs Park, Fredericksburg
Another hidden “city” gem, Alum Springs Park in Fredericksburg offers a tranquil escape from reality - even if only for awhile. Offering picnic shelters and tables, restrooms, grills, playgrounds, walking paths and a fitness trail, the park provides beautiful streams, hidden caves to explore and a peaceful setting that is often hard to find in a city setting. Plan your visit at
7. Falling Springs Falls, Covington
These awe-inspiring falls have an interesting history. Thomas Jefferson first wrote about them in the 1700s, recording that they were over 200-feet high. Today, they are 80-feet after being moved by a fertilizer company to mine fertilizer. While the "price of progress” would appear to be 120-feet, the remaining 80-feet are still amazing to see and make for an impressive view even from the road.
8. The Devil’s Bathtub, Fort Blackmore
If you’re up for the hike, Devil’s Bathtub is all the reward you can imagine and more. The “bathtub” is located 1.5 miles down the Devil’s Fork Loop Trail in the Jefferson National Forest. It’s a tricky path with streams and slippery rocks, but once you reach Devil’s Bathtub – a pool of nearly crystal green water at the base of a stone slide – you will know it was well worth it. Plan your hike
9. The Enchanted Garden at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Richmond
When the word “enchanted” is in the title, you have to give it a second look. This pretty English garden was first created in the 1920s behind the brick house that holds the Poe Museum. It was modeled after one of Poe’s more obscure poems, “To One in Paradise.” Museum founder and an avid collector, James H. Whitty, believed the poem to be a reference to an actual garden in Richmond where Poe had courted his first love, who later broke his heart. Today, the garden appears much as it would have in the 1920s and hosts monthly “Unhappy Hours” and weddings. See it for yourself with a visit to the
in downtown Richmond.
10. The LOTUS Shrine at Yogaville, Buckingham County
Yogaville, an interfaith community located in rural Buckingham County, is home to the Satchidananda Ashram. Founded in 1980 by Yogiraj Sri Swami Satchidananda, best known for opening the Woodstock Festival, Yogaville houses a permanent community of 226 residents and offers classes, workshops and teachings. The highlight of the community is the LOTUS shrine. Shaped like a lotus flower, the shrine features 10 altars representing Hindu, Shinto, Tao, Buddhist, Islam, Sikh, Native American, African and two unnamed religions. Find out about visiting this tranquil hideaway at
11. The Great Dismal Swamp, Suffolk
This beautiful refuge features Lake Drummond (one of Virginia's two natural lakes) and offers over 200 species of birds and wildlife including deer, black bear, bobcats, river otters and more. Encompassing 112,000 acres, the swamp is now the largest remaining intact piece of land left from a habitat that once covered more than a million acres. Today, the carefully preserved forests and mist-covered marshlands create a world unto themselves, offering you a look at life as it might have been hundreds of years ago. Learn more about the Swamp’s history and make a plan to visit at the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services website
Of course, like I said at the beginning, these are only a handful of the many beautiful hidden gems throughout the state. Do you know of others? We would love to have you add to the list in the comments below!