Over the summer, I attended a wedding in London, Kentucky. On my way home, my GPS routed me some weird backroads-ish way home that drove past a field of bison. I was astounded to see bison anywhere in Virginia and stopped immediately to determine if my eyes had deceived me, or if I had really seen a bunch of buffalo lying around in the grass. Much to my delight, I discovered a pretty little state park I’d never heard of before with some easy trails for exploring, nice campgrounds, and of course some bison (and buffalo). Real talk, no idea what the difference between the two is but a bit of research told me both are present at the park.
Wilderness Road State Park is located in Lee County, Virginia near Cumberland Gap, so it’s a bit of a drive from Rockingham County. However, if you’re ever in the area, road tripping down South, this would be a nice family friendly place to explore the outdoors and stretch your legs. There’s a $5 parking fee and dogs are allowed here, so long as they’re leashed.
There were a few walking trails in this area that all, more or less, intersected with one another. The trail my friend and I did was called the Indian Ridge trail and was probably about three quarters of a mile in length and very easy in difficulty, along a mostly gravel road through a pretty, green forested area.
The trail took us right past a hoard of bison lounging around in the sun that generally seemed uninterested in our presence. A friendly couple (the only other people we saw that day) informed us if we kept walking, we’d come upon a fort. The fort in question is Martin’s Station, an outdoor museum that’s a reconstruction of a frontier fort and is named after General Joseph Martin, who fought during the Revolutionary War. While there isn’t necessarily a view at the end of the trail (unless you count the fort and sheep), the surrounding area is quite beautiful with great views of the mountains and it’s a fantastic spot for a leisurely stroll through nature.
The park also features things like picnic tables, a visitor center, and a playground. Though it’s named after the wilderness, there isn’t much wilderness here, but you’re likely to find a good bit of solitude, since on a balmy, sunny weekend we had the place to ourselves. The park gets its namesake from the Wilderness Road, a road that helped early pioneers get west in the 1700s.
Fortunately, instead of trailblazing like Daniel Boone did in the 1700s, I could hop back in my car and take the interstate home after stretching my legs (and admiring the bison). Needless to say, if you’re looking for a neat, out-of-the way spot to explore, this park might just be the perfect place for you.