By: Matt & Katie Goodwyn (& Blue dog :)
Need to get away? We may have the perfect early Fall weekend idea. We live in Richmond, and love all the breweries we are lucky to have here, but also enjoy a nice road trip with our pup! We have been visiting Blue Mountain Brewery since they opened and we almost never turn down a trip when heading in that direction. There are certainly other breweries with food in route to Natural Bridge to break the trip up, but BMB works well as a quick stop when heading to Natural Bridge on a Friday after work. Easy access to the interstate and top notch dinner.
Friday - Leave Richmond - 4PM, arrive at Blue Mountain by 6:30PM
Blue Mountain Brewery suggestions
10" THE REAL DEAL PIZZA w/ gluten free crust + big house salads
Hop Duster IPA - 8.4 ABV
$$ - 40-80
Once you take in the sunset at Blue Mountain, there will only be an hour left drive to get to Natural Bridge down I-81, or you could take a more "scenic" route down 151, through Roseland & Buena Vista to visit more breweries! That will add about 30 or so minutes. Just remember, you have a hike planned for early Saturday morning!
Natural Bridge KOA
We love staying at KOA cabins all across the east coast. Sometimes we tent camp and sometimes we reserve (highly suggest you pre-reserve at this KOA) the cute, simple, 1 room cabins. They are small, but most have a full bed and bunk beds as well as A/C and heat. This KOA feels just like all the others, with a well maintained facility and a very friendly staff. Remember to bring your own linens.
Saturday - wake up! - 7am
Early Morning Breakfast!
The Pink Cadillac Diner opens at 7am and is literally right at the entrance to the KOA. I am sure you can't go wrong with your order here, but it may be a crime not to try the sausage gravy on biscuits. I would bet that you will return Sunday morning upon your departure.
$$ - 15-30
Saturday 9am - Head SE to the James River Foot Bridge - Directions
Hiking -Big Rocky Row -Glasgow, VA
About 4 1/2 miles out and back -- allow 2 1/2 hours
There are several A.T. hikes to choose from in this area, but the one we recommend begins at the James River Footbridge about 20 minutes SE from the KOA. You can make this hike as long as you wish (see link below). We did an hour or so out and back and turned around at the first A.T. shelter after exchanging pleasantries with a few sky-scraping thru-hikers. After you cross the James River Footbridge take a right and head out on the side of the mountain.
Hike #2 --Cedar Creek Trail --At Natural Bridge
We went directly to this next short hike because we were excited to see Natural Bridge since it became a State Park. It is around 2 miles total, but very easy compared to the A.T. Allow plenty of extra time for learning the amazing history of the bridge as well as for photos.
Note-- The is an $8 fee per person for this hike, but well worth it.
Great Valley Farm Brewery
This new brewery sits right above the KOA. To say we were blown away would be a huge understatement. We sampled all of the brews, but particularly loved the Strong Ale and the IPA. Get a flight from the friendly staff and sit outside and take in the view. Select ingredients from their own on-site farm will be used in the beer-changing, freshly evolving lineup as the seasons change. They are open till 8pm on Saturdays and usually have a food truck on the weekends, maybe some live music. Check their facebook page out before you go. It is no surprise to us that they have a perfect 5.0 rating from customers on FB.
$$ - 20-40
If you don't opt for the current food truck at the brewery, you could always fill growlers and go back to camp and cook out! Just remember the closest grocery store is in Lexington, so plan accordingly. If at any point you are craving fresh vegetables, fine Virginia hams, or a trip back in time, go about 5 min North and check out Layne's Country Store. A true taste of Virginia, they have country cured hams, Virginia Wines, Amish jams and pickles (we love the jalapeno pickled deviled eggs!) and hoop cheese.
Road Trip Soundtack - Chris Robinson Brotherhood "Big Moon Ritual"