Columnist Tee Clarkson takes a look at a three-day getaway inside Virginia’s borders.
The three-day vacation is imperative. Without it, there is little doubt that all sanity would drain quickly from the sink.
If I were to run for politics (and don’t worry, that won’t be happening), I would base my entire platform around the threeday vacation. And why not? Who can’t squeeze in five days of work into four every now and again?
At least one three-day weekend a month sounds about right.
Shutting the office down early saves on energy and does wonders for morale. Plus, when you hit the road, you inevitably spend a little more money, boosting the economy a bit, particularly in the outof-the way places.
Our family tries to get in at least one long weekend vacation every season, so I thought it would be fitting to highlight some options throughout the summer season, starting with the Warm Springs area of Virginia.
Where you stay establishes the tone of any threeday weekend, and the Warm Springs area has options ranging from primitive camping on Lake Moomaw to five-star lodging at the Homestead. There are also plenty of great little inns and bed-and-breakfasts around and house and cabin rentals available on VRBO and Airbnb.
Regardless of where you stay, a good hike is in order when you are in the area and there are all sorts of options. A few rather short ones are the Hidden Valley loop along the Jackson River and the Dan Ingalls Overlook trail. Longer hikes are available in the area in Douthat State Park and throughout the George Washington National Forest. The Nature Conservancy has published a hiking guide for Warm Springs Mountain Preserve. If you are looking for a hike around Lake Moomaw, this map is a good place to start.
There are a wealth of excellent fishing opportunities in the area with the two primary options being Lake Moomaw and the Jackson River.
Moomaw is known primarily for its smallmouth bass and trout fishery. Many anglers take advantage of the entire lake in power boats, but those choosing to fish from kayaks or canoes can enjoy the relative quiet of the upper end of the lake where the Jackson River enters. For information on fishing Moomaw, anglers should start by checking the DGIF site.
Trout and warm-water species are available on the upper Jackson near Hidden Valley as well as through sections below Gathright Dam.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries regularly stocks the section in Hidden Valley with rainbow trout. This is a great area for fly fishing and spin fishing alike. Those willing to walk a few miles will find the special regulations area popular with fly anglers. Smallmouth bass and other warm-water species can be found in this portion of the upper Jackson when water temps are too high for trout.
Fishing below Gathright dam is excellent for trout year round. Public access is available for wading and for floats but those venturing to the area should be aware of trespassing lawsuits filed by some landowners claiming Kings Grants. DGIF has outlined these areas and access points.
The further downstream you go the better the smallmouth bass fishing.
Those wishing to combine a little hiking with their fishing will find plenty of native brook trout streams in the neighboring George Washington National Forest.
There is certainly no reason to leave the mountain bike at home either. Douthat State Park has more than 40 miles of trails and is the “go to” spot in the area for more serious riders. Those in the mood for a more relaxing ride should look into the Jackson River Scenic Trail.
Regardless of whether you choose to rough it or stay in style, whether you are looking for adventures on two wheels or two feet, whether you like your boat powered by a motor or your own paddle, the Warm Springs area makes for an ideal three-day getaway.