Explore Park Outer Loop
This hike will make a circuit around the outer edge of Explore Park. We will start in the parking lot closest to the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center, hike out to Palmer Pond and to Turkey Scratch, through the historic area and along the river to Rutrough Point, do the loop above Back Creek east of Rutrough Road, and then return to the main parking area on the bike trail. This hike comes in only at about 7.0 miles (exact mileage is hard to map because of all of the bike trail switchbacks). Bring a lunch and plenty of fluids. We will not need to carpool as Explore Park is pretty centrally located. Though the mileage and well-defined trails would tend to put this hike in the easy range, I’ll rank it as lower end of moderate as some of the inclines are steep.
After the hike, I plan to kayak — hopefully from the Parkway to Hardy, though certainly from Rutrough Point to Hardy if the river is too low above Rutrough Point to run. Feel free to join me for that as well! Above Rutrough Point, the river is Class I – II, while we will actually be on the farthest reaches of Smith Mtn. Lake to Hardy.