This is perhaps our most visited spot in Central Virginia. It helps that it’s less than 30 minutes from Lynchburg but that is just an added plus. We fell in love with Peaks of Otter the first time we went there. Here are our favorite sights to see and places to go.
Hike Around Abbot Lake
When you first get to Peaks of Otter you will notice the tranquil beauty of this lake. If you are like us you will follow the path around counter-clockwise or as you are looking at the lake to your right. There is a little tunnel going under a bridge on the way around but we normally don’t go that way. I’ll explain what is out that way further down the page. You will then start on a wooden walkway that goes through a tiny marshy area. Stop along the left edge by the water to see the fish coming up to mooch some food.
Next you will come close to an area that depending on the time of year will be filled with deer eating crab apples that have fallen form the trees on the right. They probably will just stare at you like cattle do as you walk by. Continue around to a wooded area that is opposite the Peaks of Otter Lodge. We haven’t stayed there yet but that might be a future close and fairly cheap vacation. The path continues around the lake. Past a house that dates back to colonial days and then to the lodge.
Peaks of Otter Lodge
The lodge has a great place to eat called the Lake View Restaurant with a nice range of meals. Eat and watch the lake from your table or enjoy the live entertainment as you talk with friends and family. They are also pet friendly so bring your 4-legged friend for a little R and R.
Cell reception is almost nill and WiFi is spotty so consider it a perfect time to unplug and get away from the rat race as you watch the sun set behind the mountains at night from the comfort of your cozy little room. Prices vary depending on the time of week and year but from what I have seen they are around $96 to $141. There are a few peak days when you might see some higher prices but check them out for yourself.
Picnic Area in the Woods
Before you reach the lodge you will first pass by a little picnic area below the lake that has a nice stream flowing through it. Depending on the time of year and the weather this is truly a magical area. All the rocks and ground near the stream are covered with moss and the old picnic tables made of stone are like something out of a Tolkien novel.
Bring your hobbits and four-legged friends with you and you can enjoy this area as you follow the winding paths and cross back and forth over the stream. My daughter and I love to re-enact scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We race to the bridge and ask, “What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?” My wife has turned it into a chance to quiz the young one on her math skills. “What is 45 + 32?”
The Peaks of Otter
What exactly are the Peaks of Otter? They are actually a series on mountains overlooking the town of Bedford. They include Sharp Top (altitude 3,875 feet); Flat Top (4,004 feet) and Harkening Hill (3,375 feet). Enjoy all three or just have a leisurely walk around the lake. The other thing you must enjoy is a drive along the Blueridge Parkway. There are several areas where you can see breathtaking views from the overlooks along the way.
Johnson Farm Trail
Remember the little tunnel at the beginning of our journey? That leads to Johnson Farm Trail go under the road and turn right and follow the trail along to a farm, which has been restored to represent regional life in the 1930s. The whole trail is around 2 miles. It’s generally easy to travel but there are some very steep hills as you near the farm.
You Might See a Bear
We saw this little guy wandering about Abbot Lake at Peaks of Otter. My wife provided the editing and iPad music accompanying the post. It’s a Korean version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Three little bears live in one little house, Father Bear, Momma Bear, Baby Bear! We kept our distance but it was pretty exciting to see him wandering around the lake.
The lodge is at Milepost 86 on Blueridge Parkway north of Roanoke. We always take the 460 East from Lynchburg to the first Bedford Exit. From there you pick up Route 43 North (Peaks Street) to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Lodge is located 500 yards on the right. Be careful of deer along the road both on the way there and on the way back. We always take our time and are able to see many deer around the hours of 6 or 7 at night.
So travel often and travel safe my friends and we will see you on the trails.