Life Outside Summer 2018 - 42

ON THE ROAD

remote forests to a spectacular overlook within the 5,780acre Shawvers Run Wilderness. There, you'll see the Hanging
Rock Valley, bowled in by Potts Mountain to the east and
Middle Mountain to the west. From New Castle, follow
311 northwest for about 10 miles and turn right onto the
gravel Potts Mountain Road. Follow for 2-3 miles, looking
for the trailhead sign, on your left.

COURTESY OF THE SWINGING BRIDGE RESTAURANT

VA. 311 WEST FROM ROANOKE

The hikes,
scenery
and
eats are
gloriously
inviting.

FOLLOWING VA. 311 WEST from Roanoke, you'll pass through

Roanoke County, climb Catawba Mountain, bisect the
Appalachian Trail and enter Craig County. A designated
Virginia Byway, the road offers more than 40 miles of
gorgeous mountain views coupled with myriad outdoor
opportunities. At Paint Bank, you'll find a tiny mountain
community with a bison farm, one-of-a-kind amenities,
trout streams and wilderness to explore.

HIKING
McAfee Knob, 7.8 miles - Less than 10 miles outside
of Salem, a strenuous hike up Catawba Mountain yields
a world-famous view from a 3,200-foot cantilevered rock
outcropping. Expect a 270-degree panorama of the Roanoke
Valley to the east, Tinker Cliffs to the north, and the
Catawba Valley and North Mountain to the west. Park
at the McAfee Knob trailhead on 311 and follow the AT
north, passing two shelters along the way.

THE SWINGING
BRIDGE
The food is "oldtime, with a hillbilly
gourmet flair" inside
an equally colorful
general store.

42

Dragon's Tooth loop, 5 miles - Expect a mile of gradual
uphill walking followed by a steep ascent. Toward the top,
you'll scramble up rocks on all fours to the namesake 35foot monolith and panoramic views. Four miles west of
the McAfee Knob parking lot along 311, look for the brown
AT sign and park in the gravel lot. Follow the blue-blazed
connector trail to the AT and head south. For the return,
follow the AT north to the Boy Scout Connector trail and
hang a left. At the intersection, take a right and continue
to the parking lot.
Hanging Rock Trail, 1 mile - One of the more isolated
treks in the region, this short walk will carry you through

Summer 2018 \\ LifeOutside Magazine

Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory, 2 miles - High
atop the Peters Mountain ridge, an old fire tower is nestled
into a rocky summit overlooking the Eastern Continental
Divide. Built in the mid 1950s, the one-room structure was
reconstructed as a bird-watching sanctuary in 1997 and
offers 360-degree views of the surrounding areas. Head
south on Va. 600 from Paint Bank for 10.8 miles, then
turn right onto Limestone Hill Road. Follow for 3.5 miles
and turn left onto Firetower Road. In .7 miles, you'll find
the trailhead. hangingrocktower.org

FISHING
Potts Creek Outfitters, Paint Bank - Situated at the
heart of Paint Bank, PCO's certified instructors offer
guided fly-fishing tours for both seasoned anglers and
novices. Explore wooded and secluded Potts Creek, which
the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
describes as "a stocked, spring-fed stream of exceptional
clarity." Trips from $140. pottscreekoutfitters.com

EAT/EXPLORE
The Swinging Bridge, Paint Bank - Features "...old-time,
southern, stick-to-your-ribs good cookin' with a hillbilly
gourmet flair" in a museum-like old-timey general store.
We like the bison burgers, from the herd at nearby Hollow
Hill Farm. Plates from $14. theswingingbridge.com
Tinglers Mill, Paint Bank - Directly behind the Swinging
Bridge is a fantastically preserved historic grist mill. Local
crafters offer demonstrations, tours, and sell goods on the
weekends. depotlodge.com/tinglers-mill

STAY
The Depot Lodge, Paint Bank - This renovated former
train depot dates to 1909 and has the feel of a luxury
hunting outpost. Rooms in the main lodge, in addition
to a cottage, two log cabins and a caboose repurposed
into a small private suite. Near Peters Mountain, there's
a glamping setup. Lodging from $129. depotlodge.com
The Pines Campground, Newcastle - A primitive 17-site
campground adjacent to trout streams and the 5,507-acre
Barbours Creek Wilderness. From New Castle, follow 311
for 4.7 miles and turn right onto Route 611. Go 5 miles and
hang a left on state route 617. In 5.1 miles, the campground
will be on your right. No fee. fs.usda.gov/recarea/gwj/
recarea/?recid=73987
-ERIC J. WALLACE


http://www.hangingrocktower.org http://www.pottscreekoutfitters.com http://www.theswingingbridge.com http://www.depotlodge.com/tinglers-mill http://www.depotlodge.com http://fs.usda.gov/recarea/gwj/

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Life Outside Summer 2018

Life Outside Summer 2018 - 1
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