Inspired by an editorial in The Roanoke Times on how the Roanoke Valley ranks as an outdoor community, we thought it would be a good time to examine how Franklin County rates.
While Franklin was included in the study referenced in the Times, the outdoor activities offered here are enough to stand on their own.
Smith Mountain Lake offers a plethora of outdoor activities with watersports from boating to swimming. Fishing, wakeboarding and jet skiing are also just a few of the activities to pass the time at the lake. Add in not one, but two miniature golf courses, plus the 18-hole golf course at The Westlake in Hardy and there is plenty of golfing for all ages.
At the southern end of the county, Philpott Lake offers its share of outdoor fun, too. The 3,000-acre lake features boating, camping, fishing and hiking as well as a peaceful setting for watersports like kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding. All of this can be done during Concerts by Canoe, a featured summer event put on by the Franklin County Parks and Recreation Department.
Four rivers offer a number of blueways for those who enjoy running the rivers. The Blackwater River boasts four access points as does the Pigg River. Family tubing season kicked off Memorial Day weekend as well.
For landlubbers, there are numerous options for biking or hiking. While each of the lake areas offers several trails, the Town of Rocky Mount offers Grassy Hill Natural Area Nature Preserve, a 1,295-acre site with 6.6 miles of scenic hiking. Waid Park in Rocky Mount is home to 14 trails ranging from 0.4 miles to 2.4 miles long. Also at Waid is the county’s newest bike trail, Old Buzzard. The trail incorporates flow and free-ride features, making it a progressive experience that’s appropriate for all skill levels.
The Blue Ridge Parkway also hosts various trails, including Smart View’s 2.6 miles of trails.
There are also various events throughout the county during the spring and summer, from the annual Pigg River Rumble 5K that took place in May to the Callaway Road Race, which was rained out this year. The Shine Runners Pub runs are open to individuals of all fitness levels and each Thursday rotate locations among Brooks Mill Winery, Grassy Hill Preserve and Chaos Mountain Brewery.
Apart from the Concerts by Canoe events at Philpott, there are also outdoor concerts at Smith Mountain Lake and Philpott as well as at events such as Antique Farm Days. Rocky Mount Town Council also recently approved an outdoor concert at The Harvester in October.
Area entertainment centers offer outdoor activities such as batting cages, go-karts, a rock climbing wall and, let’s not forget, Franklin County Speedway.
It seems all Franklin County is missing are winter skiing or tubing places with all the beautiful hills we have here.
Also, there are not any designated dog parks. Perhaps that is because there are no leash laws and many dogs run astray. That is a topic for another day.