A Fabulous Fall Getaway in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, by Travel Writers

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By Candyce H. Stapen

The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia dazzle in the fall. The hills are covered in ribbons of red, yellow and rust leaves, and the roads pass past fields bordered by groves of crimson and bright orange trees. To explore Nelson County, Virginia, we based ourselves at the Wintergreen Resort, a ski resort that spans nearly 11,000 acres. The resort’s Blue Ridge Express chairlift offers seasonal rides for visitors to take in the breathtaking fall colors.

The alluring peaks of Virginia, however, have equally alluring valleys, and this is where we explored. We’ve discovered award-winning craft breweries, cider houses, mead, and plenty of interesting and delicious cuisines at all prices.

We started our trip with a hike to Crabtree Falls in the George Washington National Forest. Plunging to 1,200 feet, Crabtree is the tallest vertically falling waterfall east of the Mississippi River, tumbling down in a series of waterfalls. Our first glimpse of a small ripple came after a 700 foot walk along a paved trail that makes viewing the falls easy for families with kids in strollers. After that, we hiked up dirt switchbacks and climbed steep stairs to reach the top of the waterfall with its rewarding view of distant mountain peaks and a lush, colorful valley.

Afterward, we followed a friend’s suggestion to stop by Mac’s Country Store in Roseland to satisfy our well-deserved hunger with crispy fried chicken and chunky potato wedges and quickly understood why the store is legendary. with the inhabitants. Another gem we discovered was the Brewing Tree Beer Co. and Scratch Kitchen in Afton. Originally opened as a retirement project in 2018 by Mark and Gina Thompson, the family-owned craft brewery offers outdoor dining at picnic tables that provide convenient proximity to a sandbox where the all – little ones can play and a meadow where teens can throw Frisbees next to a stream.

Mark, a craft beer guru, gained his experience leading previous brewing engagements in Oregon and Colorado. Gina’s experience is rooted in a Culinary Arts degree and includes time as a certified sommelier. Its food trailer produces creative culinary delights that are all made from the ground up, and they’re the perfect complements to Mark’s beers that are only available onsite.

After an easy hike the next day, we came down the mountain for lunch at the Basecamp Brewpub and Meadows at Devils Backbone Brewery in Roseland. Started in 2007 as a craft brewery known for its lagers, the business now sits on a 92-acre complex that includes a rotating selection of 48 different taps, a distillery, concert stage, horseback tours, land camping and rental homes. Anheuser-Busch acquired Devils Backbone in 2016, but hasn’t changed the energy of this Virginia brewery where award-winning Vienna lager with its sweet touch always impresses when paired with breaded Vienna-style fish and chips. -lager on a patio with a view of the surrounding meadows and mountains.

Later we visited Dickie Bros. Orchard in Afton, where we were too early to pick apples – October is high season. Instead, we bought red Paula, the season’s first harvest pie with up to 20 varieties. The orchard, part of a 1752 land grant to James Dickie, is operated by the ninth generation of the Dickie family, who expanded the property by hundreds of acres. In October, families pick apples and pumpkins on Saturdays and Sundays, but the orchard also grows stone fruits and berries for keen visitors.

We were hoping to pick our blackberries at Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery in Nellysford, but a dry summer had shriveled their harvest and thwarted our plans. Instead, we enjoyed fruit wines and meads – a hobby turned business that Gregory and Kimberly Pugh run on their hill. I especially enjoyed meads as a former English teacher who first encountered references to mead, made from fermented honey, in Greek and medieval literature. The Pounding Branch Persimmon, light with a hint of sweetness, and Hunter’s Moon, nicknamed “pumpkin pie in a glass”, were also delicious.

Before heading back to Wintergreen, we stopped in Nellysford to sample locally-pressed Honeycrisp Cider at Bold Rock, an award-winning cider house that claims to be the largest independent cider house in the United States. With locations at both ends of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the company makes the most of local apples and blackberries in their ciders. They also make hard teas, lemonades, and seltzer that sparkle in the late fall afternoon.

That evening, we watched the clouds float across the mountains and golf course from the patio at the Devils Grille at Wintergreen Resort and reflected on our days in the valley. The Blue Ridge Mountains are stunning indeed, but the back roads, breweries, orchards, trails and vineyards had already made us plan our next Nelson County adventure.

WHEN YOU GO

Nelson County Information: www.nelsoncounty.com

Wintergreen Resort: www.wintergreenresort.com

Crabtree Falls is approximately 6 miles from milepost 27 of the Blue Ridge Parkway; $ 3 vehicle fee: www.nelsoncounty.com/outdoor-adventures/hiking/crab-tree-falls.

Mac’s Country Store: www.nelsoncounty.com/taste/macs-country-store

Brewing Tree Beer Company and Scratch Kitchen: www.brewingtreebeer.com

Devils Backbone Brewing Company: www.dbbrewingcompany.com

Dickie Brothers Orchard www.dickiebrothers.com

Hill Top Berry Wine: www.hilltopberrywine.com

Bold Rock: www.boldrock.com

Bright fall colors welcome visitors to Wintergreen Resort, Nelson County, Va .’s best place to base an exploration of valley communities beneath the Blue Ridge Mountain Peaks. Photo courtesy of Wintergreen Resort.

    Bold Rock in Nelson County, Va., Ferments local apples from within 35 miles of the cider house for a mouthwatering freshness in all of its hard ciders.  Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

Bold Rock in Nelson County, Va., Ferments local apples from within 35 miles of the cider house for a mouthwatering freshness in all of its hard ciders. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

    Cold water splashes and tumbles 1,200 feet at Crabtree Falls in Nelson County, Virginia.  Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

Cold water splashes and tumbles 1,200 feet at Crabtree Falls in Nelson County, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

Candyce H. Stapen is a writer at www.greatfamilyvacations.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook @Familyitrips and Instagram @CandyceStapen and check out www.HennysKids.org, the Stapen nonprofit that provides solar powered computers and training to rural schools in Africa. To read articles from other Creators Syndicate authors and designers, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Bright fall colors welcome visitors to Wintergreen Resort, Nelson County, Va .’s best place to base an exploration of valley communities beneath the Blue Ridge Mountain Peaks. Photo courtesy of Wintergreen Resort.


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