A rewarding destination for day-trip adventurers or long-distance hikers
Bland County, Va.
Bland County is a recreational paradise, and along with the rest of southwest Virginia, is becoming a hub for tourism. The scenic vistas, historical landmarks, outdoor activities, and abundant rivers, lakes and streams make this area a mecca for visitors. The beautiful mountains and temperate climate provide ample opportunities for everyone from the most avid adventurers to moderate outdoor enthusiasts and contemplative naturalists.
30 years ago the A.T. skirted the southern boundary of Bland County, traversing a long, very dry and somewhat inaccessible mountain-top. When the A.T. was relocated away from the Walker Mountain ridgeline, greater Trail access for local citizens became widely available for the 56 miles of Trail winding through the county, and likewise provided numerous possibilities for thru-hikers to obtain both needed supplies and the opportunity for stop-overs to rest and recuperate.
While ‘Trail Angels’ and local businesses welcomed and sustained the rather unusual strangers looking for mail drops, hiker-hostels, and other services, local residents were becoming increasingly aware of the very real treasure that the A.T. had become, and ever-more appreciative of the outstanding quality of life that exists in their area.
In 2011, an Advisory Committee formed to facilitate Bland County’s application to become a designated A.T. Community. From the outset, this committee advocated all aspects of the great outdoors as ways to improve the health and enjoyment of citizens and visitors alike. Each monthly meeting has explored and endorsed ways for the local community to take an active role in preserving and protecting the A.T., as well as other meaningful outdoor pursuits available in the county. As Bland County partners with the ATC, the Advisory Committee brings increased alliances, energy, motivation, and the impetus to boldly move forward with an ideology that can only improve on all that Bland County already has to offer. Bland County’s 56-mile portion of A.T. is maintained by 3 A.T. maintaining clubs, all of which provide support for the community: Piedmont Appalachian Trail Hikers (PATH), Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC) and the Outdoor Club of Virginia Tech (OCVT).
Prior to acceptance as an A.T. Community, Deloras Gregory had already become the county’s first Trail to Every Classroom graduate. Deloras formed a hiking club with students in the county and actively incorporates the A.T. into her Physical Education classes.
The county’s designation took place in 2012 and celebrated all of Bland County’s beautiful natural resources and recreational opportunities. The county also hosts an annual Festival of Leaves during the peak of fall foliage.
Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club
The members of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, founded in 1932, are avid hikers and backpackers. We love the outdoors and we get out and hike and enjoy the trails of western Virginia as much as possible. Our club also maintains 120 miles of the Appalachian Trail as well as 16 shelters along the trail. We welcome guests to come along on our hikes. We usually have two group hikes each week. The A.T. south of Pearisburg (including Angels Rest / Pearis Mountain) is maintained by RATC.
Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech (OCVT)
The Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech is a diverse group of outdoor enthusiasts comprised of undergraduate, and graduate students and other members of the Blacksburg community. The goal of the club is to get our members outside and active both physically and socially. The A.T. north of Pearisburg (including Rice Field / Peters Mountain) is maintained by OCVT.
Piedmont Appalachian Trail Hikers
Piedmont Appalachian Trail Hikers, is a nonprofit trail club that maintains a section of the Appalachian Trail in southwest Virginia. PATH’s members live in North Carolina and Virginia, with the majority living between Charlotte, NC and Raleigh, NC. PATH also offers hiking and outreach opportunities. Learn more and become a member today at path-at.org.
ATC Volunteer Program
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is always looking for dedicated volunteers to help maintain the A.T. and assist in our visitor center and headquarters. Opportunities range from greeting visitors and providing information about local hikes to joining a Trail crew for week-long maintenance trips, gaining first-hand experience in what it takes to keep the A.T. open and enjoyable for millions each year. Learn more at appalachiantrail.org/volunteer.