An early birthday celebration for Mama O took us on a drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains, which is part of the Appalachian Mountains, in southwestern Virginia for lunch at the Peaks of Otter Restaurant.
With Mother Nature running about three weeks behind we quickly noticed her showing off her fall colors.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, which is America’s longest linear park, runs for 469 miles through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties, linking Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For us the Parkway runs through Roanoke.
As we traveled the thirty miles we stopped at numerous overlooks to take in the fresh mountain air and the fall colors.
Thomas Jefferson once wrote that “the mountains of the Blue Ridge, and these of the Peaks of Otter, are thought to be of a greater height, measured from their base, than any others in our country, and perhaps in North America.” Of course, this later turned out not to be the case, but not before Virginia had sent stones from the peaks to be its part of the Washington Monument.
Every bend in the road gave us a beautiful canvas to admire.
You are not in the mountains, the mountains are inside of you- John Muir
The Appalachian Trail stretches 2050 miles from Northern Georgia to Maine while crisscrossing the Blue Ridge Parkway for 100 miles in Virginia.
At milepost marker 86 of the Blue Ridge Parkway stands the Peaks of Otter. The Restaurant and Lodge was established in 1964. I think I have been visiting since 1965. Manmade Abbott Lake lies in the valley between the three peaks. Archaeological evidence under Abbott Lake indicates that Native Americans have been visiting the Peaks of Otter for at least 8,000 years for hunting, travel, and rest.
There are 3 Mountain peaks, Sharp Top, Flat Top (Elev 4001 ft) and Harkening Hill (Elev 3372 ft). We hiked part of Harkening Hill to Johnsons Farm. Johnson’s Farm was originally built in 1850, but today it is restored to its appearance of the 1920s.
I am an old time country lane for many years cows clattered back and forth over me. Wagons rumbled up and down. Children ran and played while farmers farmed wearing my road deeper and deeper into the earth. Now I am empty and silent except for a few hikers daily. Unused, Unwanted and forgotten. Ah, but what stories I could tell. Author Unknown, This is on a plaque on trail.
The Peaks of Otter village of 22 families supported a school, a church, two mills, an Odd Fellows Lodge and the Hotel Mons. The Johnson Farm, one of the few remnants of the old community, supplied fruit and vegetables to the hotel.
Site of Apple House where it was built on a 5-foot deep pit in the ground, with two levels, the upper serving as a storage/drying area for food and the lower level as a root cellar. Canned goods as well as apples and potatoes, were stored in bins on the earthen floor. The floor would be lined with old leaves and quilts to protect from the cold.
The Johnson family continually worked the farm for 90 years.
On the drive home we stopped at another overlook, Iron Mine Hollow.
Over the years, I have had many experiences at The Peaks Of Otter. I have seen black bears and many deer. I was hiking one time and a deer came upon us and let us pet him. Later I found out from a ranger that the deer had recently been released by a zoo.
Today many people visit the Peaks, eating, hiking and lodging. It’s also a popular venue for weddings around the lake as it was today. There is a campground and picnic area as well.
Virginia has a lot of beautiful sights to see and I have been lucky to have them as a part of my entire life.
Just as if you have hiked one of the 3 hikes, It’s Good To Be At The Peaks!
3 thoughts on “Autumn in Virginia, Blue Ridge Parkway and Peaks of Otter 🍁🍂”
Awesome!!! The photography and the telling stories of what you are seeing.
Wow, so pretty! Thank you for sharing the pictures and the stories. Still on my bucket list to see! I hope Missy is now enjoying her time with you in retirement life! #lifegoals
King Charles said Hi as well!