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Best Hiking in Virginia: Roaring Run Furnace

Updated on May 16, 2016
Roaring Run Furnace
Roaring Run Furnace

In a state like Virginia, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of options that an able bodied hiker has. With easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park, the options can seem almost limitless and even overwhelming at times. You can find almost any distance, difficulty or view to fit your mood. You can find great hikes next to local lodges and hotels such as the Peaks of Otter, rock scrambles such as Old Rag, and even wild ponies at Mt. Rogers. There are so many great places to feel under your boots, that it can be easy to forget about the smaller ones that offer just as much, without the crowds and without the fees. So, if you ever find yourself looking for a peaceful day trip with swimming holes, natural water slides, a bit of history, and lot of weekday seclusion, then give Roaring Run a try in the western part of the state. While most people identify this area with Appalachian Trail, and big hikes like McAfee’s Knob and Tinker Cliffs, it’s easy to get wrapped up and forget that fun can be found on a smaller scaled just thirty minutes away in Botetourt County.

Roaring Run was once an industrialized Iron Furnace dating to 1832 and was registered with the National Register of Historical Places in 1983. It’s located just outside of Eagle Rock, in Botetourt County just north of Roanoke Virginia. The trail head, located just off the wide parking lot, will present you with two options. The first will take you through the old Iron Furnaces and to a short loop hike that will pass by numerous waterfalls and swimming holes up to the falls themselves. The second is a much longer loop trail that will take you up the local mountain side and is perfect for trail running or those looking for a much more strenuous adventure.

Taking the more traditional path, you will find numerous opportunities to explore several of the old furnaces that are still in good condition almost two hundred years later. You will pass by them first before starting up several short switch backs with minimal elevation gain and crossing over Craig’s Creek several times until you will eventually be granted access to a beautiful set of falls. Along the way you will pass two perfect swimming holes with natural rock slides into them. Given the seclusion of the area, on a good summer weekday, you may well have them to yourself as you pass by. The water is cold, but the ability to take in the sun in peace makes the effort worth it.

At just over a mile into the hike, you will be brought to the Roaring Run Falls, where you will have plenty of room to take them in. there is ample space on the rocks leading to them to lay out and soak up the sun for a bit, and even more opportunities for some wonderful pictures. On the return trip you will continue to have great views of streams and several opportunities to cast a line and do a bit of fishing if you’ve decided to pack a pole.

Overall this is one of the shorter hikes in the area, and while it might not have breathtaking views or exciting scrambles, it’s worth every effort to get to this small local recreational area in Jefferson National Forest. It’s the perfect place for a family day trip or a great trail run. It is quite popular with the locals during the hottest days of summer, but in the fall and winter, you will most likely not see that many on either the shorter falls trail or the longer mountain loop through the area.

Swimming hole and rock slide
Swimming hole and rock slide

Difficulty

This is a local recreational area in Jefferson National Forest and is perfect for anyone of any skill level. The trail is well marked, well used, and well kept up. It is a beautiful and easy walk in the woods for a little over an hour of trails and doesn’t require a great deal of experience or fitness. It should be rated as a very easy trail.

Difficulty

1 star for Difficulty

Directions

Located in Botetourt Country Virginia, about thirty minutes from Roanoke, this is one of the more secluded trails in this area. It’s fairly easy to find, if you’re willing to travel a little out of the way. From interstate 81 take exit 250 and go north on route 220. You will take a left at Eagle Rock onto route 615 and stay on it for 5.5 miles before turning right onto 621, the entrance to Roaring Run Furnace Recreational Area will be on the left in one mile.

A markerRoaring Run Furnace, Eagle Rock, VA 24085 -
Roaring Run Furnace, Eagle Rock, VA 24085, USA
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Nearby Hikes

From here you are in between the beauty and challenge of the Appalachian trail southward on 220, to locations such as McAfee’s Knob or you can continue northward on 220 to Douthat State Park which presents Blue Suck falls and a wonderful recreational area that’s perfect for hiking, and has gained popularity for mountain biking.

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