Destination => Elk Creek, VA
3 Day trip Raleigh, NC to Elk Creek, VA
Each year for our anniversary Matt and I try to do something special, just the two of us. This past year we snuck away for a long weekend to stay at our cabin in Elk Creek, which is located in Southwestern Virginia- The Blue Ridge Highlands. There is so much to see and do on the way from Raleigh to this area of Virginia! I will do more posts as we discover more spots.
We stopped off at Stone Mountain State Park in Roaring Gap, NC. While our cabin is only 3.5 hours from home, we always like to find new places along the way to stretch our legs for a bit. Funny story, we had stopped here before on the way home when we were traveling with our kids. Before hiking we all needed to use the restroom. Divine intervention happened in the form of an injury to prevent us from hiking. After I used the restroom I decided to hop off the stairs and leap over a small hole in the ground. Upon landing I twisted my ankle pretty badly... and our visit was over just like that.
After completing the Stone Mountain loop I am SO glad we were not able to do this hike with our kids. I found out when a hike is labeled strenuous, they really mean it. There were steps, soooo.many.steps. And a lot of steady inclines. Either way it was a lot of fun and very beautiful. We also stopped off at the Hutchinson Homestead hiking path and explored the old settlement buildings. It took us about 4 hours in total to hike what I am guessing was about 6 miles. It could probably be done a little quicker, but we stopped to take pictures and we were battling drizzle and passing thunderstorms. Hearing thunder from the top of a mountain is both terrifying and marvelous by the way. If you go be sure to bring bug spray (and maybe check the weather). The mosquito's were pretty bad near the water.
After our hike we traveled down to the Stone Mountain Country Store to ask for directions to Independence, VA. We forgot about the lack of cell signal in the area and couldn't remember the correct road to take! Side note: we bought some local beef jerky and while tasty, we are lucky we didn't loose any teeth while we were trying to eat it.
Our next stop was for a delicious dinner at Roots At Grayson, Bistro & Tavern in downtown Independence. Roots is located right behind the Historic 1908 Courthouse. Because we were there on a Wednesday evening we got to hear live bluegrass music from the courthouse lawn. We have watched this restaurant be created over the past year and have anticipated trying it. It definitely lived up to the hype! There are so many unique areas in this restaurant! My camera didn't do the place any justice so I didn't get many pictures. I am glad they didn't turn us away! We were both kind of stinky not only after sweating from our strenuous hike, but being rained on, covered in bug spray, and walking trough mud. Romantic, I know!
Y'all this place was fantastic. Matt has ALWAYS said he would never eat seafood outside a certain distance from the coast. Well never say never. We started our meal with a fresh, crisp caesar salad and a cup of one of the best she-crab soups either of us have ever had. Our surf and turf arrived shortly after accompanied by perfectly tasty sides of steamed asparagus, and real mashed potatoes. Of course we saved room for the homemade carrot cake and steaming espresso. If you ever visit Elk Creek you must go here!
We spent nearly a whole glorious day at Grayson Highlands State Park. Here we snacked on blueberry's that grew all along the trails, saw some pretty ponies, had conversations with friendly strangers, and saw a whole bunch of beautiful sites. First we hiked the Rhododendron Trail, which is where the ponies were said to be located that day. The feral ponies were introduced to the park in the 70's to prevent reforestation of the meadows. While we didn't see any while we were hiking, there was plenty of evidence they had been there : ) which I would say is the only downside of this trail. Otherwise this was a very easy and pleasant trail. We walked up a large bolder, and because it was very cloudy we were able to enjoy our lunch there! We eventually found our way over to the Cabin Creek Trail. I say eventually because we had a hard time finding it! Signage in the park isn't the best in my opinion. The Cabin Creek Trail was a lush, shaded trail. It was a relatively easy trail as we traveled mainly downhill for nearly half of it, but there were slick spots where you had to watch your footing. There were several beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes where you could dip in the (FREEZING) water. We have no clue how far we hiked in total... since we were lost for a little while! But either way this was a beautiful park that deserves a revisit. We did catch the ponies grazing on the side of the road as we exited the park!
Matt has wanted to go tour the Red Oak Brewery for years now and we finally had the chance to do it. Many of you may have passed it before driving down highway 40 between Burlington and Greensboro, making it the perfect place to stop for a bit on the way to or from the cabin. It's massive, so it's hard to miss! We learned all sorts of fascinating facts about the making and origins of Red Oak beer and the business. The facility itself was so beautiful and is surrounded by unique gardens with outdoor seating. The brand new spacious and bright tasting room had something for everyone! Games, water spots for dogs, ample seating, and they served more than just Red Oak beer. We tried to wait around for the food truck, but had to get back on the road to get back to our kiddos. I highly recommend checking their events calendar and making this a stop! Even if you don't like beer it is a great place to stretch your legs.