Lexington, Virginia: a prime location for outdoor fun!

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The Shenandoah Valley, where Lexington is found, is situated between the forested Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountain ranges. Just a short drive of two or three minutes will take you out of the city and into the midst of lush, verdant hills, forests, and farmland. Just a short drive away are national and state parks, beautiful rivers, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the world-famous Appalachian Trail.

I rented a kayak on my first morning in Lexington phrazle and set out on the Upper James River Water Trail. There are pullouts and campsites scattered along the trail's 60+ miles, but I wasn't quite that daring. I settled on a six-mile stretch in Virginia's Rockbridge County, where wooded hills rise sharply against the skyline and the water laps at the feet of the land. Over my head, a huge hawk flew over without making a sound. Nothing but the splash of my paddle as it entered the water could be heard until a short section of mildly churning rapids transported me to calmer waters. I saw two turtles sunbathing on a big rock just before the pullout and waved to them as if we were old pals.

The following day I decided to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway. One of the most visited routes in the National Park System, drivers can stop whenever they like to take in the breathtaking scenery. There are deer, bears, and other wildlife can be seen along the Blue Ridge Parkway's 469 miles of winding through woodlands and overhanging cliffs. There are approximately 200 hiking routes and lookouts with breathtaking views of the valley. The landscape is beautiful all through the year, changing from green and blue to scarlet and gold in the fall. When snow covers the trees and makes driving unsafe, the parkway is closed to cars but remains open to walkers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers who enjoy having the trail to themselves.

The Lexington region is where the Appalachian Trail meets the Blue Ridge Parkway. Only around 25% of hikers who try a thru-hike each year are successful, despite the fact that the entire trail is 2,190 miles long. I didn't attempt it because it would require resources I didn't have at the time. But I did walk a little bit of the course.

The Appalachian Trail's Green Tunnel moniker is both fitting and common. After only a few feet, I was completely surrounded by twigs and foliage. Serious hikers can either build up tents in the wilderness next to the trail or use one of the shelters that have been set up. Personally, a sample would have been sufficient, so I headed back to the car.

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