In the Appalachians where Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina converge, mountains rise over 4,000 feet from base to summit. Such mountains are Mt. Mitchell (6,684′, the highest peak east of the Mississippi), Mt. LeConte (6,593′), Mt. Rogers (5,729′) and Roan Mountain (6,285′). Class III & IV whitewater rivers, including the Nolichucky and Watauga, slash deep, narrow gorges. Beautiful mountain lakes, like Watauga and South Holston, offer plentiful camp-sized islands, deep coves and hundreds of miles of shoreline.
Opportunities for backpacking, hiking, bicycling, paddling, climbing and snow skiing abound in the Cherokee, Jefferson and Pisgah National Forests. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blueridge Parkway are part of this region. The Appalachian Trail crosses its tallest peaks and bisects expanses of undeveloped nature.
One of the most diverse and luring backcountry destinations of this region is the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Mt. Rogers NRA consists of 120,000 acres within the Jefferson National Forest, and stretches from Damascus, VA eastward to the New River. The NRA is situated amid several State Parks and campgrounds, as well as three Wilderness Areas.
Notable features are Virginia’s highest peak, open balds, panoramic vistas, wild ponies, prime trout streams, the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Creeper Trail — a 34 mile “rail-to-trail” open to mountain bike, horseback and foot travelers. Four complete seasons offer colorful fall leaves, cold and snowy winters, spring wildflowers, and rhododendron blossums and blueberries during the hot summer. Strong wind and morning fog are nearly assured year-round.