The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Buffalo Mountain - Backroads Tour

By Bob Heafner © 1985

Issue: December, 1985

This month our BACKROADS tour will begin at the intersection of the Blue Ridge Parkway (Parkway Milepost 177.7) and US 58 Business in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Our entire drive will cover a distance of 32.1 miles.

At least two hours should be allowed to complete the tour and by all means, bring along your camera, because this is a picturesque drive that you will want to record and remember.

BACKROADS tours always make a complete loop back to the point where we started. The underlined numbers at the beginning of each paragraph indicate the total number of miles we've traveled from our point of beginning. The numbers in parenthesis ( ) indicate the distance from the last point of interest that we passed.

00.0 (0.0) From the intersection of US 58 Business and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, we will head west toward Hillsville, Virginia on US 58 Business.

01.4 (1.4) The long high ridge we can see to our right is Turnip Patch Ridge. This is the ridge Mr. Coy O. Yeatts told of hiking over in freezing weather while searching for his fox hound in the story he wrote, "Why I Never Made A Fox Hunter", which was published in the April, 1984 issue of The Mountain Laurel.

Between the highway and Turnip Patch, we can see a small rounded hill covered in meadow. A story circulates in these parts about a fellow who offered an unsuspecting neighbor 25 cents per row to "hoe out" the corn on this hill many years ago. The neighbor agreed and started hoeing on the first row early one morning and come nightfall, he was still hoeing on the first row. Finally, he figured out that he had been "had." The row had been plowed in one continuously circling row clear to the top of the hill. The entire field of corn was only ONE ROW! Mountain practical jokes and humor have a way of making a point of common sense and this one is a prime example; if you're ever offered a hoeing job where the pay is per row, first thing you better do is find out how long the row is.

02.4 (1.0) We are now leaving Patrick County and entering Floyd County, Virginia. As the crow flies, Hurricane Hill is less than a mile to our left and there the Virginia counties of Patrick, Carroll and Floyd all meet at a corner rock. There it is possible to stand in all three counties at once. A local rabbit hunter once impressed some unwary listeners by telling of how his dogs once jumped a rabbit in one county, ran it through another and caught it in a third county. Needless to say, it happened on the Hurricane and within a 50 foot circle.

03.1 (0.7) Here we turn right onto State Road 780 (Turnip Patch Rd SW), which is a small gravel road.

03.4 (0.3) There is a pretty view to our left here.

03.8 (0.4) Directly ahead is a beautiful view of Buffalo Mountain. The fire tower can be seen rising above its crest.

04.5 (0.7) At this stop sign, we will  turn right onto SR 632 (Shelor Rd SW).

05.0 (0.5) On our right is Green Mountain Baptist Church.

05.5 (0.5) At this point, we will turn right onto SR 603 (Shelor Rd SW).

06.1 (0.6) To our left, we can see Slate Mountain with an assortment of cabins across its side.

06.7 (0.6) At this point, SR 603 turns right, but we will bear left and cross the small bridge on SR 600 (Shelor Rd SW).

07.6 (0.9) At this stop sign, we will turn right onto SR 758 (Buffalo Mountain Rd SW). On our left here is Hylton's Store, which is a small country store that has served this community for many years.

07.7 (0.1) Just after turning right onto 758, we will turn left onto SR 602 (Phadettia Rd SW).

08.7 (1.0) The picturesque mountain farm on our left here is typical of many that we will pass on this tour.

09.3 (0.6) At this stop sign, we will turn left onto SR 799 (Conner Grove Rd SW). Folks from Meadows of Dan know this as the Willis Road and I assume that the folks from Willis know it as the Meadows of Dan Road.

09.4 (0.1) Here we will turn left onto SR 604 (Halls Store Rd SW) toward Grace Brethren Church.

10.0 (0.6) Directly ahead is another view of "the Buffalo."

10.8 (0.8) Here we will turn left onto SR 727 (Moles Rd SW). Just after we turn, there will be a sign to our right indicating that this road ends in less than a mile. Once this road wound its way through the mountains and came out near Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Today it would be hard traveling even for a four wheel drive.

11.3 (0.5) On our right is Earl Moles' Stables. Earl is a superb horse trainer and usually his stables are full of beautiful horses. His reputation for honesty and fair trading is known by everyone he has ever traded with. He's the closest the Blue Ridge has to a genuine cowboy and his soft spoken manner and friendly greeting always makes visitors feel welcome. Each year he organizes numerous trail rides and wagon trains where everyone is invited to saddle up and ride along. Each year local volunteer organizations sponsor a horse show here and riders and sightseers alike join together to enjoy the festivities. For more information, you can call Earl at 703-593-2441.

11.5 (0.2) We will now turn around at Earl's and head back the way we came on SR 727 (Moles Rd SW).

12.0 (0.5) At this stop sign, we will turn left continuing to follow SR 727 (Moles Rd SW).

12.9 (0.9) At this stop sign, we will turn left onto SR 799 (Conner Grove Rd SW) towards Willis, Virginia. On our right is Burks Fork Creek.

17.9 (5.0) We are now entering the small community of Willis, Virginia. If you're in the market for a Christmas tree, you might want to keep your eyes open through here for a sign advertising them for sale. Each year Mr. Curtis Brown offers "cut your own" trees for $8.00 each, regardless of their size. If he cuts them, they're $9.00 each. His place will be on the left.

18.1 (0.2) At this stop sign, we will turn right onto US Highway 221 north (Floyd Hwy S), towards Floyd, Virginia.

18.7 (0.6) Here we will turn right onto SR 768 (Kyle Weeks Rd SW).

19.3 (0.6) There is another small Christmas tree farm on our left here.

20.2 (0.9) To our right here is the perfect picture of an old mountain farmstead, complete with fruit trees and old log barn.

20.5 (0.3) The view directly ahead is beautiful.

20.7 (0.2) At this point, we continue straight ahead and do not turn, but the road number changes from SR 768 to SR 771 (the road name remains Kyle Weeks Rd SW).

21.3 (0.6) The view of the mountain farm to our right here is perfectly framed by the rising slopes of Buffalo Mountain. This is a postcard setting! It is scenes like this that have made the Blue Ridge Mountains famous the world over.

21.6 (0.3) At this point, SR 771 (Chestnut Creek Ln SW) turns right, but we will continue straight ahead on SR 772 (Kyle Weeks Rd SW).

22.2 (0.6) Beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and meadows are afforded us as we travel across this high ridge.

23.3 (1.1) At this stop sign. we will turn right onto SR 727 (Union School Rd SW).

23.4 (0.1) Daddy Rabbit's Campground is on our left here.

23.9 (0.5) On our right at this point is a pretty old mountain farmhouse that has one of the rockiest yards, that I bet, you've ever seen.

24.5 (0.6) At this stop sign we will turn left onto SR 799 (Conner Grove Rd SW).

26.0 (1.5) A sign advertising "HAND MADE QUILTS" is in front of the home of Mrs. Effie Burnette on our right here. Mrs. Burnette has been making quilts for longer than most of us have been around and she welcomes folks to stop by.

26.1 (0.1) On our left is DeHart's Store.

27.5 (1.4) To our right is the "other side" of Slate Mountain which we saw earlier.

27.9 (0.4) On our left here is the home of Wyatt and Edna Conner. A sign out front advertises "HAND MADE QUILTS," and Mrs. Edna, like Mrs. Burnette, is well known for the quality of her stitches. Mrs. Edna was a waitress at Mabry Mill for many years and her smile has made more traveling folks feel at home than most state welcome centers have. An old friend of mine, Jack Wilson of Salisbury, North Carolina says that Mrs. Edna cooks pinto beans to perfection and he admitted that he often timed his neighborly visits to coincide with mealtime, in order to enjoy her cooking.

28.4 (0.5) At this stop sign, we will turn right onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, heading south at Milepost 174.

30.5 (2.1) On our left is Mabry Mill.

32.1 (1.6) We are now back to our point of beginning at the intersection of the Blue Ridge Parkway and US 58 Business in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.

We hope you have enjoyed this tour as much as we have and that as you travel through the mountains, you will take the time to stop and meet some of the nicest people on earth; our Blue Ridge neighbors.