A Weekend of Exploring in Rockingham County

Next weekend marks the third NC Trail Days Festival Weekend sponsored by local communities and the N.C.Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ Hometown Strong initiative as part of Year of the Trail. The festivals’ goal: to highlight the exceptional recreational resources in our rural areas.

This should be of interest to you for two reasons:

  1. You likely haven’t heard of a lot of the trails, and thus they offer new opportunities for exploring.
  2. A lot of other people haven’t heard of them, either: if you’re tired to sharing the trail, especially during the busy spring season, these trails are often blissfully peaceful.
Paddling the Smith

Case in point this coming weekend (April 21-23) in Rockingham County. On tap we have:

  • Beginner paddle trip on the Smith and Dan rivers
  • Experienced paddler trip on the Dan
  • Night hike Friday evening
  • Off-trail hike at the Dan River Game Lands Sunday morning
  • Waterfall hike
  • Hike through the heavily forested grounds of a sizable estate
  • Guided mountain bike ride
  • Lake hike
  • Beginner-friendly greenway hike

As you can see, there’s something for everyone.

If you’re a hiker who loves great scenery, check out the 9 a.m. hike at Mayo River State Park’s Deshazo Mill Access. The 15-foot waterfall (pictured at top) ending in a sizable pool is the marque attraction. But the ensuing hike up Fall Creek and then along the Mayo River to Virginia is pretty fetching as well. Follow that up with the 1:30 p.m. hike on the Chinqua-Penn Walking Trail, which features stone structures (including a dam with an impressive drop) and mature hardwoods (and cows!).

Like to get some miles in? I’ll be leading two longer hikes: a 4.5-miler at Lake Reidsville at 11 a.m. and a 3-miler on the Smith Creek Greenway at 3 p.m. I walk the latter, a natural surface path, nearly every morning, beneath a lush hardwood canopy.

Like a good adventure? Sunday morning’s off-trail on the 1,800-acre Dan River Game Lands promises hidden natural beauty plus visits to abandoned farm sites from the area’s past. Martha Beckton, who heads up the trail program at Rockingham Community College will  describe where a trail could and should go, and what would go into making that happen.


Not a paddler but curious? We’ve just opened 5 more spots on a beginner-friendly trip down a 2-mile stretch of the Smith and Dan rivers. You don’t even need a boat for this one: our friends at the Dan River Basin Association and the Madison-Mayodan Recreation Department will supply canoes and kayaks (as well as paddles and PFDs).

You are a paddler but want to try a new waterway? We’ve got you covered as well, with a 5-mile trip down the Dan, starting at a dazzling new Wildlife Resources Commission boat ramp and ending at one of Eden’s four river accesses.

And because life isn’t strictly about hiking and paddling and mountain biking there’s the Sip, Shop & Celebrate Year of the Trail Festival in downtown Eden Saturday from 5-8 p.m.

It’s a full day of exploring trail you likely haven’t explored before but likely will want to come back and explore again.

Find the full schedule and sign up to join us here.

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