James River Water Gap-Milepost 636

Monroe, Virginia

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For all the might of the mountains, the sight of Virginia’s biggest river flowing placidly through the breach is sure to impress. Trails on the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the James River Face Wilderness provide an impressive experience of the titanic natural forces at work in this water gap. The Parkway’s two riverside paths are advertised as thirty-minute interpretive walks. Each, in turn, features interpretive signs about the human and natural history of the James River Water Gap. Both begin beside a visitor center that in season offers a variety of other exhibits about the canal and the river. Be sure to consider the picnic area beside the visitor center. Twelve or so tables and grills dot a split-rail fence–flanked meadow beside the James. You can picnic in the open or just inside the edge of the woods. The Otter Creek Trail starts here near the visitor center, but a path also leads along the first part of the stream from the picnic sites. It’s a wonderful chance to leave the placid silence where Otter Creek merges with the massive James and walk into the woods to see—and hear—the creek come noisily to life as a tumbling mountain stream.
Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway

by Randy Johnson (Falcon Guides)

For all the might of the mountains, the sight of Virginia’s biggest river flowing placidly through the breach is sure to impress. Trails on the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the James River Face Wilderness provide an impressive experience of the titanic natural forces at work in this water gap. The Parkway’s two riverside paths are advertised as thirty-minute interpretive walks. Each, in turn, features interpretive signs about the human and natural history of the James River Water Gap. Both begin beside a visitor center that in season offers a variety of other exhibits about the canal and the river.

Be sure to consider the picnic area beside the visitor center. Twelve or so tables and grills dot a split-rail fence–flanked meadow beside the James. You can picnic in the open or just inside the edge of the woods. The Otter Creek Trail starts here near the visitor center, but a path also leads along the first part of the stream from the picnic sites. It’s a wonderful chance to leave the placid silence where Otter Creek merges with the massive James and walk into the woods to see—and hear—the creek come noisily to life as a tumbling mountain stream.

© 2017 Randy Johnson/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Monroe
Distance: 0.4
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Easy to Moderate
Accessibility: Dog-friendly
Local Contacts: The Blue Ridge Parkway 199 Hemphill Knob Road Asheville, NC 28803-8686 (828) 271-4779 (828) 298-0398
Local Maps: USGS Big Island; Parkway handout map combining the James River Water Gap and Otter Creek Recreation Area, available in season at the visitor center and campground and online at nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/otter-creek-james-river-trails.htm
Driving Directions: Directions to James River Water Gap-Milepost 63.6

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Apr 2018