Douthat State Park
Seeing as this might well be my last free weekend for a while, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and headed to the mountains. I was also itching to take out my new Aliner Sportliner popup camper and a fall weekend in the mountains seemed like the perfect way to break it in.
Thumbing through “Hiking Virginia” by Bill and Mary Burnham, I found what looked like an interesting hike called “Roaring Run/Hoop Hole” near Clifton Forge, Virginia. Douthat State Park was nearby and from all indications, was a very nice facility. I called the park office to determine if they recommended making a reservation. Only one section of the campground remained open past November 1st and there were only 5 spots available for Friday and Saturday. I made the reservation online, packed up, and hit the road Friday morning.
Douthat Park did not disappoint. It’s a beautiful campground with large sites and plenty of privacy. I set up at the very end of the Whiteoak section on site 28. A pretty little stream runs nearby and its burbling sound was a relaxing addition to the site. We grilled a couple of steaks for dinner, played backgammon for a few hours and called it a night.
Saturday morning dawned clear and cold but with an expected high of 70 degrees later in the day. After breakfast we headed off to find the trailhead at the Roaring Run National Recreation Area. Although the original plan was to combine the Iron Ore Trail with the Hoop Hole Trail for a 10 mile loop, 3 miles of continuous climbing had only put us at the junction of the two trails. Fearing we may not have enough daylight to complete the Hoop Hole loop, we turned around and descended back to the trailhead. After checking out the ruins of a pre-Civil War iron ore furnace, we headed back to the park.
With no particular plans on Sunday, we enjoyed a nice breakfast, broke camp, and drove into the park to do a bit of exploring around Douthat Lake. It’s a lovely little mountain lake with canoe rentals, a camp store, and a nice restaurant overlooking the lake. With parks like this, it’s easy to see why Virginia State Parks are voted “America’s Best” by The Sports Foundation and the National Recreation and Park Association.
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