Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Smith Mountain Lake State Park, Huddleston, Va.

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While lots of people attended the Hillsville Labor Day Gun Show and Flea Market this past Sunday, we headed off to visit Smith Mountain Lake State Park, located near Huddleston, Va.

As a lake-centric state park, Chris didn’t hold much hope for it. But after hiking on the Turtle Island Interpretive Trail, he declared it, “The best lake state park we’ve ever visited.” Besides the usual boating, swimming and fishing, there are primitive campsites, cabins and miles of trails for hiking or biking.

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In all we walked close to 4 miles. The Turtle Island Trail, the first we tackled, is a moist, wooded trail full of fungi. It loops through pines and hardwoods and runs along the shoreline in some places. The interpretive signs educate hikers on forest succession, from pine stands to hardwood mixes. It’s an easy hike and was pretty pleasant. On the trail we saw a box turtle and heard chickadees and, maybe, an osprey. The Turtle Island Trail also includes a small island, where it gets it’s name, which you cross over a little foot bridge to access. I, of course, had to get my feet wet. Now I can say I’ve been in the water sometime this year. 🙂

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Next up was the short Opossum Trot Trail, which connects the Turtle Island Trail to a portion of the Tobacco Run Trail. There is a tobacco barn alongside the road (and Tobacco Run Trail) where lots of drivers stopped to take photos. The tobacco trail is also a loop trail, but we took the road up to the Discovery Center, which was closed.

The Discovery Center has playgrounds and picnic tables for visitors. The Lakeview Trail runs behind the center and gives visitors a great view of an osprey nest. There weren’t any osprey around when we checked it out. There’s a camera attached to the perch, though, that provides a live feed to a monitor at the Visitor Center. So if you want to see the osprey up close, especially during nesting season, that would be a place to stop.

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Swimming area at the Smith Mountain Lake State Park.

By this time it had started to rain, so we started our way back to the car. On the way back, we tried to find a trail called Beaver Den. We didn’t really find a trail marked for it, but found a short, unmarked loop trail. Back in the car, we drove to the other side of the park to walk the rocky Osprey Point Trail, which is a 0.4 mile-linear trail. Its trailhead is near some picnic tables and the swimming area of the park. The trail follows along an a dry stone wall. We saw a white, black and yellow bird. Maybe a warbler? We also heard a pileated woodpecker in a stand of tall pines.

It was a great trip and I’d definitely recommend a stop or a day trip if you’re ever out that way.

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