If the bottom of clear, cold, deep, 21-mile-long Claytor Lake was visible, visitors would get a glimpse of one link on the chain of history connecting early settlement along the frontier area known as southwest Virginia. The 4,475-acre impoundment of the New River lies south of Radford and east of Pulaski in Pulaski County, an easy jump from Interstate 81.
The nearby interstate and US 11 follow closely the old Wilderness Road, a footpath and wagon trail for settlers traveling south down the Shenandoah and Roanoke valleys from Pennsylvania. Thousands of years before European pioneers started streaming down the valley in the mid-1700s, the road was a well-traveled hunting and raiding route used by southern Cherokee and Catawba tribes, as well as members of the northern Iroquois Confederacy of Five Nations. A mystic German sect called the Ephrata Brethren (later to be known as Dunkards) decided the land now covered by Claytor Lake was the place they wanted to stop.
Claytor Lake State Park is ideal for swimming, camping, hiking, and picnicking, Claytor Lake is known for sport fishing and boating. The park has a full-service marina with docking slips, supplies, fuel, boat rentals, and refreshments. Three lodges and 13 cabins overlook the 4,500-acre lake, offering visitors a scenic retreat. Guests can also rent bikes and enjoy a universally accessible fishing pier, picnic shelters, a seasonal snack bar, and playgrounds. There are also two gift shops. Popular activities at Claytor Lake include powerboating, sailing, and various watersports. Fishing has also become a major attraction at Claytor Lake. The most plentiful fish in the lake are bluegill. Catfish are also popular in Claytor Lake, some of them getting quite large (well over 50 lb (22 kg)). The main sporting varieties are largemouth bass, Large and smallmouth bass fishing tournaments are a regular seasonal event at Claytor Lake with weights of 15 to 20 lb (7 to 9 kg) per fisherman being an average winning catch. Striped bass fishing occurs year round with various techniques. The average “striper” is about 8 lb but catches close to 30 lb have been reported.
One of our favorite places to visit is only 35 minutes from Rockwood Manor. This park has so much to offer including hiking, biking and bike rental, kayak and canoes, horseback rides. My Grandmother Mary Lou Bell was working here at the entrance to the park in a girls home when my Grandfather John A Blakemore came a courting arriving by train. They were soon married and my mother Sarah Kent was one of their children.
New River Trail is a 57-mile linear park that follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way. The park parallels the scenic and historic New River for 39 miles and passes through four counties and the city of Galax. The trail’s gentle slope makes it great for visitors of all ages to hike, bike, and ride horseback. Several places in the park provide horse, canoe, and bike rentals, boat launches, and gift shops. Fishing is popular, and primitive camping sites dot the trail. The park hosts a horse arena, and guided horseback trips are available. There are access points to the trail at Allisonia, Chestnut Yard, Cliffview, Dannelly Park (near Galax), Draper, Dora Junction (near Pulaski), Foster Falls, Fries, Galax, Gambetta, Hiwassee, and Ivanhoe. Horse trailer parking is available at Allisonia, Austinville, Cliffview, Dora Junction, Draper, Fries, Ivanhoe, and Foster Falls.
- Two tunnels: 135 feet and 193 feet long
- Three major bridges: Hiwassee – 951 feet; Ivanhoe – 670 feet; Fries Junction – 1,089 feet
- Nearly 30 smaller bridges and trestles
- A historic shot tower used more than 200 years ago to make ammunition
Bisset Park is great for many outdoor activities. It has volleyball nets, tennis courts, soccer fields, basketball hoops, shelters, and multiple playgrounds. You can also rent tubes and canoes from shelter 3 and float on the river. The park also has 2 trails. The Riverway Trail which is a 3.5 mile paved walkway/bikeway, and the Civil War Trail.
Hiking and Biking Trails
The Appalachian Trail is a marked hiking trail extending 2,200 miles long. One of the longest hiking only trails in the world. More than 2 million people are said to take a hike on part of the trail at least once each year. The idea of the Appalachian Trail came about in 1921. The trial itself was completed in 1937 after more than a decade of work, although improvements and changes continue. It is maintained by 31 trail clubs and multiple partnerships.
The Huckleberry Trail is a paved trail system that extends almost 15 miles through rolling terrain and passes through Blacksburg, Virginia Tech, Montgomery County, and Christiansburg. The trail offers a way for pedestrians and bicyclists to reach a number of recreational, cultural, and commercial attractions in the area. Difficulty: Easy.
A beautiful trail to enjoy the scenery of a waterfall. The trail is part of a steep, rugged ridge that rises from the valley of the North Fork of the Roanoke River, Falls Ridge Preserve boasts a spring-fed travertine waterfall approximately 80 feet in height. SHortest trail 0.25 miles, longest trail 3.3 miles.
Coal Mining Heritage Park Loop Trail is a 1.5 mile loop trail located near Blacksburg, Virginia that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for walking and nature trips. On this trail, you can also learn about the history of coal mining in the region. Difficulty: Easy.
Angel’s Rest Trail is a 5.6 mile and 1,550 feet of elevation change heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Pearisburg, Virginia that features beautiful wildflowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. The view is spectacular from the top. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Another spot on the Appalachian Trail is Kelly’s Knob. This is a 6.5 mile out and back which runs along a ridge between John’s Creek and Clover Hollow Mountains. It offers a striking view from the 50-foot cliffs.
The trails are well-traveled as students from Virginia Tech have been known to frequent them in the afternoons. From the beginning to the highest point you will climb just under 1800 feet in a little over three miles. Difficulty: Moderate.
Stiles Falls is a 3.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Shawsville, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, and nature trips and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. Visitors can access this dramatic, 40-foot waterfall.
Bald Knob Trail is a 0.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Newport, Virginia that features a great forest setting. The trail is rated as moderate and is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips. Bald Knob is a rock outcropping that has a panoramic view to the east, south, and west. There are many
opportunities to view butterflies and wildflowers. The elevation is 4,365 feet. There is a parking fee of $5 which will also allow you to walk around the grounds at the Mountain Lake Hotel (the site for the filming of Dirty Dancing )
This out and back route gently goes up for the first 17.8 miles, turns around at the top of the climb, just inside West Virginia’s border. It then returns back down the same route to the start. It goes along scenic Big Stony Creek for much of the route on a well paved, generally lightly traveled road.
Join Tangent Outfitters for an incredible fishing, tubing, canoe, kayaking, biking, or overnight experience on the New River. Their guides have years of experience in guiding, fishing and navigating the New River and your guide will put you on the fish. The New River is one of the nation’s foremost rivers for smallmouth and Tangent Outfitters has decades of professional guiding experience. You will get HOOOKED! They have been guiding on the New River since 1992 and love to share their knowledge of the New River with other anglers. Located only 30 minutes from Rockwoood Manor at 201 Cascades Drive, Pembroke, VA 24136. Phone: 540.626.4567.
Fishing on the New River: As our customers say over and over again ” Pro Fishing Expeditions provides one of the best fishing experiences in the country” All of our professional fishing guides are experts on the New River and fully understand customer care. The New River offers world-class smallmouth, Walleye, and musky fishing. The New River offers some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the nation and, despite the name, the New River is the second oldest river in the world.
Guided Fishing Trips: Pro Fishing Expeditions offers full- and 1/2-day fishing trips. Each Guide has more than 20 years of experience on the New River. They know how to put you on the fish! Lunch, drinks, and snacks, are provided so you just need to be ready to have a great day, let us worry about everything else.
Located only 20 minutes from Rockwood Manor at 2947 Little River Dam Road, Radford, VA 24141. Phone: 866.919.1577
Golfing in the New River Valley
in Riner Virginia is only a 25 minute drive from Rockwood Manor. They offer Membership, Tee Times, Free Round Of Golf, Tournaments, outings, Leagues, Golf Lessons, dining, a pro shop, an outdoor pool, and it’s all in the scenic shadows of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. 1581 Turnberry Lane, Riner, VA 24149 Phone: 540.381.4995
is only a 39 minute drive from Rockwood Manor. The club offers Memberships, tennis courts, a heated swimming pool, a practice range, golf courses, and a calendar of social events. Play golf at your convenience. Many skill levels on the golf courses are offered. 1064 Clubhouse Road, Blacksburg, VA 24060 Phone: 540.552.9165
in Draper Virginia, is just a 19 minute drive from Rockwood Manor. This highly rated country club approach to public golf offers a pro shop, practice, snack bar and dining facilities, golf courses, lessons, tee times, and tournaments. 2800 Big Valley Road, Draper, VA 24324 Phone: 540.980.4653
located in Radford Virginia, is only a 19 minute drive from Rockwood Manor. Their USGA Slope Ratings vary between 55 and 155. Enjoy membership, golf instruction, junior golf, golf packages, and Bull & Bones at The River for upscale dining and sports pub. 8400 River Course Drive, Radford, VA 24141 Phone: 540.633.6732
is only an 11 minute drive from Rockwood Manor. They offer memberships, a public course, tournaments, and an event center. 4360 Country Club Drive, Pulaski, VA 24301 Phone: 540.980.5851
is a 35 minute drive from Rockwood Manor. They offer a 2015 Golf Program, golf instruction, a 2015 Junior Academy for boys and girls, The Hill Golf Club, outings,Tee Time, a 2015 Tournament Schedule, and a Pro Shop. 800 Graves Avenue, Blacksburg, VA 24060 Phone: 540.961.1137
in Pembroke Virginia, is a 36 minute drive from Rockwood Manor. They offer memberships, tournaments, tee time, a swimming pool, picnic shelters, a clubhouse activity room, and an 18 hole golf course that’s open year-round. 900 Castle Rock Drive, Pembroke, VA 24136 Phone: 540.626.7276
in Blacksburg Virginia, is a 33 minute drive from Rockwood Manor. They offer full club repair services, locker rentals, membership, leagues for student/faculty/staff, ladies leagues during the summer, a pro shop, golf lessons, golf courses, Located conveniently one mile from Virginia Tech Campus on Duck Pond Drive. 1 Duck Pond Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061 Phone: 540.231.6435
in Christiansburg Virginia is a 27 minute drive from Rockwood Manor. This club offers membership, swimming pool and pool events, bar & grill, tee times, instruction, mountain side track with rolling terrain and spectacular mountain views along the way, special events and golfing packages.1111 Round Meadow Drive, Christiansburg, VA 24073 Phone: 540.382.3732
Great Oaks Country Club in Floyd Virginia, is a 48 minute drive from Rockwood Manor. They feature fun for the family. They offer membership, tennis, swimming, golf for all ages and levels, tee time reservations, a caddy program, dining, events, pool and holiday parties, child care, wine tasting, junior golf and tennis, men’s and ladies leagues, and a swim team. They anticipate your arrival. RR 221 Floyd, VA 24091 Phone: 540.745.2189