Hiking trails are so abundant around Fort Lewis Lodge, it might be hard to pick one! The area is known for its hiking – some say Bath County is a hidden gem in the crown of mid-Atlantic hiking.
There are trails at the Coursey Springs Fish Hatchery, along the Cowpasture River, at Lake Moomaw, and at Douthat State Park, as well as many, many more throughout the George Washington National Forest. The website www.hikingupward.com has a good listing of hiking trails in Virginia and includes directions, lengths and where to park.
Hidden Valley is a favorite among some hikers – it’s where the post-Civil War movie Sommersby with Jodi Foster and Richard Gere was filmed in 1993. Here you’ll find well-marked trails and meander across streams and through wetlands. The Jackson River Gorge Trail features a large suspension bridge.
The vistas and overlooks in Douthat State Park, along the Blue Suck Falls and Beards Mountain loop trails, are some of the best in the state. Plus, Blue Suck Falls is just a fun name.
Maps are highly recommended – not road maps, but ones that show the topography of the area, the mountains, the valleys, the steepness of a trail. You can see where a trail crosses a stream, or travels along a ridge. Maps are available at park ranger district offices (there’s one in Warm Springs, phone number 540-839-2521), or visit http://store.usgs.gov to download or find where they’re available for purchase.
Don’t forget the basics: Wear study hiking shoes or boots, bring water and snacks, a first aid kit (a skin product called Tecnu is good for treating an exposure of poison ivy, oak or sumac), and a mobile phone. If someone gets hurt and you can’t get good cell service, head for a ridge.