Skinny Dip Falls

Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Mountains-to-Sea trail, Skinny Dip Falls is a beautiful cascading waterfall.

The water is crystal clear. Unfortunately these images don't do it justice. To reach the falls, park at the Looking Glass Overlook located at milepost 417. Cross the street and take the connector trail to the Mountains to Sea Trail and turn left. You'll reach the falls in about a half mile.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 70 miles

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Cumberland Island National Seashore

Cumberland Island National Seashore is the southern most barrier island in Georgia. In fact you can see Florida from its shores.

Like Bull Island, it can only be accessed by boat (or helicopter). A 45 minute ferry ride from the nearby town of St. Marys runs 2-3 times a day.

There are basically three ways to explore it - as a day tripper, as a camper, or by staying on the island's luxurious Greyfield Inn.

There is one standard "car" camping type campground which is about a half mile from the ferry dock. (Obviously you can't park your car there, but they do have carts to help you transport your gear from the ferry to the campground.) There are also four back country sites (even though their website says there are only three.) The closest (called Stafford Beach) is 3.5 miles away and contains a bath house with a cold water shower, and drinking water. (The water must be filtered, treated or boiled before drinking.) The other three sites are 5.5 miles, 7.5 miles and 10.5 miles away.

The island is teeming with wildlife, rivaling Shenandoah National Park. Wildlife includes armadillos, egrets, wood storks, rattle snakes, water moccasins, alligators, racoons, turkeys and 150 feral horses. (Several of these made frequent visits to our campsite.)

My sons and I came across this feral pig. The vulture standing by in the distance was one of five waiting for us to leave. Other creatures we encountered along the beach included various species of crabs and sharks.

We also discovered a couple of interesting items washed up on the beach including this meteorological monitoring device.

We also found the most pristine conch shells, scallop shells and sand dollars you can imagine.

The island has had residents for over 4000 years including some of the worlds biggest movers and shakers including the Rockefellers and Carnegies. (John F. Kennedy Jr. was married on the island.)

This structure is a former mansion now in a state of disrepair.

Warning. The ticks, mosquitoes, heat and humidity can get unbearable in the summer months. The island is truly an awesome experience but be prepared with plenty of deet and iodine tablets. Also, there are no lifeguards on the beaches. This is a wilderness area. Rip tides are a real threat. Know what to look for before entering the water.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 362 miles

The River Garden Bed and Breakfast

The River Garden is located on the banks of the beautiful and pristine Holston River. The innkeepers, Scott and Paula, have provided three rooms in their home so that guests can get a small taste of peaceful southwest Virgina countryside that they enjoy daily.

The Holston is a fisherman's dream. During a canoe trip down the river, we found no area where trout were not abundant. All of the rooms open to a large porch overlooking the river.

In addition, Great Blue Herons, Redwing Blackbirds, Canadian Geese, Wood Ducks, Humming birds and a variety of other birds are found in every direction.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 180 miles.

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A Tailor's Lodging Bed and Breakfast

A Tailor's Lodging is located one block off Main Street in Abingdon, VA. The home was built in the 1840's by the town tailor. Although much of it has been updated, the owners have done an excellent job keeping it as authentic as possible. There are two rooms in the main house, one upstairs and one downstairs, and a large common area on the middle floor which includes a study, the kitchen, and a sitting room. The innkeepers, Rick and Susan, are very accommodating and generous, allowing guests free run of the place. They also offer great stories about the area.

An additional room is found in this cottage located next to the main house.

The house is one block from a bike rental/shuttle business and two blocks from the end of the Virginia Creeper Trail. The Martha Washington Inn is one block the other direction with the Barter Theatre located across the street. The Tavern is located about four blocks away and several other good restaurants are within walking distance.

Since Rick and Susan have regular jobs and don't live in the home, they don't offer a traditional breakfast. They will provide either a continental breakfast or a 10% discount for no breakfast. There is a great little place called the Trail Cafe one block away that offers some great breakfast options.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 172 miles.

Virginia Creeper Trail

The Virginia Creeper Trail is a rails to trails project located in southwest Virigina. It starts near the top of Virginia's second highest peak, Whitetop Mountain, and runs thirty-four miles to downtown Abingdon. Originally a steam engine called the Virginia Creeper ran through the area. The rail was abandoned in 1974 and construction of the trail began in 1977.

The trail is open to hikers and equestrians but primarily used by mountain bikers. There are several bike rental companies nearby which will shuttle visitors to Whitetop. From there they can ride all the way to the end or stop in Damascus, the halfway point. Damascus is also the lowest point on the trail, so starting at either end is a downhill trek for the first half of the trail. As you can see by the white blaze on the bridge, part of the trail converges with the Appalachian Trail temporarily. They then separate before meeting again in Damascus. Damascus is known as the friendliest town on the Appalachian Trail and is the location of an annual festival known as Trail Days.

One of the first stops on the trail is this old train depot called Green Cove. The depot has been transformed into a gift shop. A famous photograph of the spot called, Maud Bows To The Virginia Creeper can be seen here.

After about five miles the trail begins to follow the Holston River, a favorite spot of trout fisherman.

There are also plenty of campsites along the way.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 170 miles.

Location of bike rental shop and end of trail.

Three Wineries

The following three wineries are located a short distance from the town of Abingdon. They are all small and fairly young but each has a nice selection.

Corey Ippolito Winery and Bed & Breakfast. My favorite of the three.

Right down the street is Countryside Vineyards & Winery. They also sell homebrew supplies.

Closer to Abingdon, is the Abingdon Winery.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 143-

Abingdon, VA

Abingdon, VA is a great little colonial town located in southwest Virginia. It's home to the Barter Theatre, a professional theatre house where many well known film actors got their start, including Gregory Peck, Ned Beatty and Ernest Borgnine.

As with any historic town, there are plenty of buildings rumored to be haunted. The most haunted (according to one local ghost hunter) is the Martha Washington Inn, a luxurious hotel located on Main Street.

Another location rumored to have ghosts galore is the oldest building in town, The Tavern. Built in 1789 it serves an upscale menu in a rustic environment. Be careful not to let your beer slide off the table though, as two centuries of settling have the left the building slightly less than level.

The next few posts will be related to the town of Abingdon. In the meantime, take a stroll down Main Street.

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Distance from downtown Greenville: 172 miles.

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