Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


Camping at Smith Mountain Lake Park, Huddleston, Va.

After breaking camp at Holliday Lake State Park, we headed to Smith Mountain Lake State Park, which we’ve visited before. We arrived around 10:30 a.m. and set up camp. Rain was forecasted for later in the afternoon, and we wanted to get camp set up and make it to Booker T. Washington National Monument for Harvest Time.

The camp site we selected wasn’t as nice as Holliday Lake State Park’s facility. Many of the tent sites share a parking lot and the pads are located a short distance away. This isn’t too bad, because the vehicles were in sight of the camps. Water was accessed from one shared faucet located in the shared parking lot. Electricity also isn’t offered. If you want, you could pay extra for pads designated for RVs, which have water and electricity. We did see one family with tents set up in an RV pad.

One other disadvantage of Smith Mountain Lake compared to Holliday Lake State Park is the cost of firewood — $4 versus $3 a bundle.

The tent sites have great tree cover, so there will be shade during hot, sunny days. During the rain, the trees helped provide extra cover, too. It was a lot quieter than Holliday Lake State Park, but that’s probably because it rained from 2-9 p.m. and no one could sit outside their tents and RVs.

The bathrooms at Smith Mountain Lake are great. There are five exterior shower rooms in the bathhouse. The showers are very roomy and are kept clean. The bathhouse also has a large sink for washing dishes.

We didn’t stay the next day to walk any trails. We were tired of the rain and ready to head home. So after breakfast, we broke camp and headed home.


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.