The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Fall Color - Backroads Tour

By Bob Heafner © 1984-2012

Issue: October 1984

Our tour this month is longer than normal. From beginning to end, we will cover a total of 107.7 miles. From our point of beginning at the junction of US 58 Business and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, we will travel through portions of Patrick, Carroll and Floyd counties, Virginia and Surry County, North Carolina. If you do not have time to complete the entire tour, we have given special consideration to our route this month in order to permit you to begin or end your drive at several major intersections along the route. If you wish, the tour may divided into two tours and be taken on separate occasions. The entire tour requires approximately 5 hours. If you elect to split the tour into two drives, the first will require approximately 3 hours and the second about 2 hours.

Special consideration has also been given to the time of year and the spectacular beauty of the autumn leaves color change. The route we have chosen offers exceptional views and the opportunity to witness the beauty of nature at the height of its glory.

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.

We hope you enjoy this tour through the Heart Of The Blue Ridge. From beginning to end the beauty is beyond words of description. By all means bring your camera and a picnic basket.

00.0 (0.0) One hundred yards east of the junction of US 58 Business and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, is the intersection of state road 614 and US 58 Business. We will begin at the point where state road 614 turns off of US 58 Business. Our tour will follow state road 614 as it parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway south from Meadows of Dan.

00.6 (0.6) We do not turn here, but state road 601, which turns left, is a dead end road leading to the "Upper Dam," a beautiful mountain lake built during the 1930's by the City of Danville, Virginia as part of the hydro-electric operation located in Kibler Valley.

01.2 (0.6) The rustic building on our right is the workshop of Susan Elizabeth Shelor. At one time, a post office was located here and the community was known as Tobax, Virginia.

01.7 (0.5) Round Meadow Creek runs under the road at this point. This is one of our areas most popular trout streams.

01.9 (0.2) Here we turn right onto state road 602.

02.4 (0.5) The beautiful two story white home on our left is "Spangler's Bed and Breakfast." It is owned by Dr. and Mrs. Harold Spangler of Greensboro, North Carolina, who offer overnight accommodations to the public.

02.6 (0.2) The beautiful rock church on our right is Mayberry Presbyterian Church which has been immortalized by the Richard Davis book, "The Man Who Moved A Mountain" and by John Hassell Yeatts book, "Remembering Old Mayberry." Both books are available at Mayberry Trading post and are the kind of books you can't lay down once you start.

02.9 (0.3) Mayberry Trading Post is on our right. It has been in operation since 1892. The Mayberry Post Office was located in the back of the store and the old mail bins are still nailed up on the wall. The Trading Post is the last reminder of the Mayberry community where a wide variety of mountain businesses once flourished. A tannery, brickyard, blacksmith shop, barber shop, grist mills and others were all nearby at the turn of the century. It was a thriving little community then, but now the "Trading Post" is all that is left of Mayberry, Virginia.

03.3 (0.4) Here we turn left onto state road 607.

03.4 (0.1) On our left is a beautiful upstream view of Mayberry Creek.

03.6 (0.2) At this stop sign we turn right onto state road 614.

04.0 (0.4) We will not turn, but state road 602, which turns left here, is a dead end road leading to the "Lower Dam" in the Dan River Gorge. Like the "Upper Dam", it is owned by the City of Danville. These lakes offer excellent fishing and are open to the public on a daily permit basis.

04.2 (0.2) This shaded curve in the road is known locally as "Hainted Branch Hollow."

05.2 (1.0) We will not turn here, but the small gravel road on our left (state road 724) was a portion of the original Appalachian Trail, which led from Maine to Georgia. The road dead ends in less than a mile and the old trail can still be followed from the end. A one mile hike from the end of the road offers a view of the Dan River Gorge and what has been described as, "the single most spectacular view of the entire Appalachian Trail", the Pinnacles of Dan. The Pinnacles of Dan are conical shaped mountains which rise from the bottom of the gorge to a perfect peak with thousand foot sides. It is an awesome view of a wild and rugged mountain gorge.

07.4 (2.2) At this stop sign, we turn left onto state road 638.

08.1 (0.7) Here we turn right onto state road 608.

08.3 (0.2) This small pool in the creek on our right was once the Bell Spur Church's baptizing pool. In the last few years, it has silted in, but at one time it was a perfectly heart shaped pool.

09.3 (1.0) On our left is the Painter family farm. They sell farm fresh produce directly to the public from a roadside stand in their front yard.

09.8 (0.5) The pavement ends here and a barn and meadow are on our left. A close look at the meadow will probably reveal a flock of sheep. The Blue Ridge Parkway can be seen on the right. We continue ahead on state road 608.

10.8 (1.0) These two small, out of the way factories both manufacture baby clothing. Spencers, on the right, makes clothing and Parkway Knitting on the left makes baby booties.

10.9 (0.1) This picturesque little church on our right is the Pilot View Missionary Baptist Church.

11.7 (0.8) Here we go under the Blue Ridge Parkway.

11.8 (0.1) At this stop sign, we will turn left following state road 608.

12.0 (0.2) If you're nor familiar with this area, you will probably be surprised to learn that the entrance drive on our left is the entrance to Doe Run Lodge and Restaurant. Overnight accommodations are available and the restaurant is nothing short of elegant with views as far as the eye can see from most tables.

14.9 (2.9) After stopping at this stop sign, we will continue straight ahead on state road 608.

16.2 (1.3) Straight ahead is a beautiful view of Orchard Gap, Virginia.

16.3 (0.1) At this stop sign, we will turn left and cross the Blue Ridge Parkway following state road 608.

16.4 (0.1) Directly after crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway, we will turn right, beside Orchard Gap Deli and continue to follow state road 608.

17.6 (1.2) After this stop sign, we will cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and continue to follow state road 608.

18.5 (0.9) An overpass carries the Blue Ridge Parkway above us at this point.

18.9 (0.4) An orchard and breathtaking views are on our left.

20.4 (1.5) The slopes of Cascade Mountain Resort can be seen in the beautiful view to our left.

20.9 (0.5) The entrance to Cascade mountain Inn and Resort is on our left here.

22.3 (1.4) At this stop sign, we will turn left onto the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 199.

22.5 (0.2) Here we turn right off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, back onto state road 608.

22.8 (0.3) At this stop sign, we are in Fancy Gap, Virginia and we will turn right, toward Hillsville, Virginia on US 52. We will be coming back this way shortly, but a side trip to the Homestead Collection is scheduled into our tour.

23.3 (0.5) Here we turn right into the parking lot of the Homestead Collection. There are several small shops to browse through. From here, we will head back toward the Blue Ridge Parkway on US 52, the way we came.

24.0 (0.7) At this point, the Blue Ridge Parkway crosses US 52 at Fancy Gap, Virginia.

29.8 (5.8) The Cana Virginia Post Office is on our right here.

32.3 (2.5) Here we cross the Virginia-North Carolina border as we enter North Carolina.

34.9 (2.6) As we approach this turn, we need to position ourselves in the left lane of US 52. We will turn left at this stoplight, off US 52, onto Lebanon Street in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

36.1 (1.2) At the first stoplight, we will turn left onto Grace Street.

36.7 (0.6) At this intersection, we will go straight across and then bear left on Old Springs Road.

37.4 (0.7) From this stop sign, we will turn left onto route 104.

39.0 (1.6) Riverview Farms is on our right.

39.7 (0.7) The old White Sulphur Springs Resort once stood near here and was a popular tourist attraction in the early 1900's.

40.8 (1.1) Here we cross the Virginia-North Carolina border back into Virginia. As we enter Virginia, the road number changes from North Carolina 104 to Virginia route 773.

41.5 (0.7) A historical marker on the right of the road here notes the nearby birthplace of General J.E.B. Stuart.

43.3 (1.8) The beautiful old white house, trimmed with green, on our left is the old Billy Bowman place. A post office stood in front of the house when this area was known as "The Hollow", Virginia. "The Hollow" was mentioned in the book, "The Man Who Moved A Mountain" quite often.

45.0 (1.7) We are now in Ararat, Virginia.

47.8 (2.8) Our tour will continue to follow route 773, however, if you like honey, you may wish to turn left onto state road 614 at this point. The first house on the right on state road 614 belongs to Mr. Adam Clement. There is a "Honey For Sale" sign in his front yard and a swing on his front porch, where he can often be found. His honey is pure! For those with little time, state road 614 will lead you all the way back to Meadows of Dan and our point of beginning.

50.9 (3.1) State road 648 turns left at this point off route 773. SR 648 is not part of our tour, but it is a beautiful drive into Kibler Valley and the lower end of the Dan River Gorge. SR 648 is a dead end road and the river rushes along beside it all the way to the City of Danville's hydroelectric plant at the end of the road.

52.3 (1.4) At this stop sign, we are in the small community of Claudeville, Virginia. We will turn left here onto route 103 toward Stuart, Virginia.

56.8 (4.5) This small community is Dry Pond, Virginia.

61.1 (4.3) At this stop sign, we will turn left onto Route 8 north toward Stuart.

63.5 (2.4) Patrick County High School is on our left here.

64.7 (1.2) Immediately after crossing a bridge over the Mayo River, we will turn right, following Route 8 into Stuart.

64.8 (0.1) The Olde Shoppe of Clark Brothers is on our right here and for antique lovers, it is a place you must stop. The atmosphere is more in keeping with a fine museum than an ordinary antique shop.

65.2 (0.4) At this stop sign, we will turn left onto Route 8 north and US 58 west. The two roads run together from here for the next several miles.

65.4 (0.2) This is "Uptown Stuart" and the courthouse is on our left.

67.0 (1.6) The Mayo River is on our right.

68.6 (1.6) At this point, US 58 bears left. We will follow Route 8 to the right, towards Floyd, Virginia and Philpott Lake. If your time is limited, you may wish to bear to the left on US 58 and return to Meadows of Dan, which is approximately 12 miles west on US 58.

72.5 (3.9) Route 57 turns right here toward Philpott Lake and Bassett, Virginia. We will continue north on Route 8 toward Floyd.

74.0 (1.5) The old I.M. Akers General Store is on our right here. Once Buffalo Ridge Post Office was in the store and the old post office is still evident inside the store.

76.3 (2.3) Jacks Creek Covered Bridge is across the meadow to our left.

78.0 (1.7) The Patrick County Fruit Growers Co-Op is on our right.

78.1 (0.1) The Woolwine, Virginia Post Office is on our right.

83.1 (5.0) The National Park Service boundary for the Rock Castle Gorge Recreation Area borders Route 8 on our left. There are over 4000 acres of public land here where primitive camping and miles of hiking trails are available for public use.

84.7 (1.6) Tuggle's Gap Restaurant and Motel is on our right. Three generations of the Spangler family have operated it for almost 30 years. If you like fried chicken or pork chops, this is the place to go. (Their chicken is legendary among circles of Baptist preachers.) It is pan fried the old time way and takes a little longer to cook, but the flavor is worth the wait.

[Update 2012... Sadly to say George and Irene Spangler have both passed on, the restaurant is still there but I don't think anyone other than George and Irene and my Mom could ever fry chicken and pork chops so perfectly.]

84.9 (0.2) Here the Parkway crosses Route 8 at Tuggle's Gap, Virginia.

90.8 (5.9) We are now in Floyd, Virginia and at this stop light, we will turn left onto US 221, towards Hillsville, Virginia.

94.7 (3.9) An old steam powered sawmill rest in the field to our left.

94.9 (0.2) Just past the old Huff Cannery, we will turn left onto state road 726.

95.0 (0.1) Here we will turn right, continuing to follow state road 726.

96.2 (1.2) There are two old buildings on our left here. The first is the old Dillon's Fork School and the next is Dillon's Chapel Presbyterian Church. The church was founded in 1860.

100.4 (4.2) This is a beautiful view of Buffalo Mountain and its fire tower to our right.

101.8 (1.4) Just before we reach this stop sign, state road 777 turned to the right off of state road 726. One quarter mile down 777 on the right, is Chateau Morrisette Winery. It is open to the public for tours and tastings. From this stop sign, we will cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and continue on state road 726.

102.2 (0.4) Straight ahead is a beautiful view of Rock Castle Gorge and Gap.

103.3 (1.1) The rock church on our right is another of the churches built by the Reverend Robert Childress of whom the book, "A Man Who Moved A Mountain" was written.

103.5 (0.2) At this stop sign, we will go straight ahead on state road 758. The entrance to Rocky Knob Cabins is on our left and the Rocky Knob Recreation Area borders the road here.

103.9 (0.4) At this intersection, state road 609 turns left, state road 604 goes straight and state road 758 bears to the right. We will follow state road 758 to the right.

105.1 (1.2) As the road starts down this hill, flowers line both shoulders of the road.

106.6 (1.5) At this stop sign, we will turn right onto US 58. The Meadows of Dan Post Office is directly across the road from here.

[Update 2012 – Since the new US 58 bypass we will need to follow the signs to Meadows of Dan and the Blue Ridge Parkway on US 58 Business.]

107.1 (0.5) The Meadows of Dan Elementary School is on our right at this point. In a time when we hear so much about the overcrowding of our public schools, Meadows of Dan is a welcome change. Slightly over ten pupils each are enrolled in classes. After completing the seventh grade, our children go to the consolidated high school in Stuart.

107.3 (0.2) The Meadows of Dan Community Building and Volunteer Fire Department is on our left. Every October the Meadows of Dan Volunteer Fire Department and the Meadows of Dan Ruritan Club have a special pancake day's event which is held on the 2nd, 3rd and sometimes the 4th Sundays in October.

107.7 (0.4) We are back to our point of beginning at the intersection of US 58 Business and state road 614 in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.

I hope you have enjoyed this tour and our area.