Column by Stan Horst
Many of us dream of finding the perfect place to live, Stan Horst found that perfect place when he moved to Central Virginia 20 years ago where he runs Cabin Creekwood, a vacation rental business near Waynesboro with his wife Debbie. Stan say he will never grow tired of the variety of things to do in the Shenandoah Valley and Virginia native Debbie agrees.
The Horsts freely share favorite attractions, restaurants and views with the many visitors who vacation in the area and are able to recommend activities for nature lovers, outdoors sportsmen and Civil War buffs alike.
People who enjoy outdoor activities will find themselves faced with hard decisions on what to do first. Hiking is a must in an area with the natural beauty of the Shenandoah Valley. Just two miles from Cabin Creekwood you can access the famous Appalachian Trail that winds through the forest and crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway in several places. Take a short stroll through the woods or choose to make a day of it and you’ll be qualified to say “I hiked the Appalachian Trail”.
For incredible views, a favorite is the Spy Rock Trail near Montebello. According to legend, Confederate Soldiers used Spy Rock as a lookout for Union Troops, and visitors marveling at the 360 degree views can understand why.
The Humpback Rocks Trail begins at the south end of the Humpback Gap parking area and provides access to Humpback Rocks (1 mile), Humpback Mountain (2 miles) and the Humpback Rocks picnic area (3.9 miles) – a perfect place to rest for lunch. Continuing on, hikers reach a strenuous 700 foot climb and are rewarded with panoramic views of the Shenandoah Valley.
For serious hikers, the Challenging Fortune’s Cove Preserve hike leads to stunning mountain views. Located in 29,000 acres of forest habitat, this 5.5 mile trail winds through rocky glades that are home to rare plants. Wildlife is abundant in this forest, including black bear, bobcat, white-tail deer, red fox, raccoon, and numerous species of birds. The climb is around 1500 feet and completing the loop will be about a six hour hike for those in good physical condition.
Jeep trails are about 30 minutes from Cabin Creekwood. Shoe Creek Jeep Trail is a four mile trail in the George Washington National Forest while Stony Run Jeep Trail is a twelve mile trail with very steep and rocky sections providing plenty of excitement.
Vacationing families with children will find keeping the small ones entertained is not a problem. Sherando Lake offers a sand beach just a mile from Cabin Creekwood and any parent knows the fascination children have with playing in creeks or tossing rocks into the water. Other kid friendly destinations include:
· The Gypsy Express at Gypsy Hill Park. For more than 50 years the Gypsy Express has carried children and their dreams. Open from the first Saturday in May through the end of October, tickets are only $1.
· The Harrisonburg Children’s Museum. This not-for-profit organization offers a place for parents and children (ages 2-12) to explore and learn together with hands-on activities, arts, culture, science and technology activities.
· The Doll House at P. Buckley Moss Museum. Even if you aren’t a fan of Moss’ art, this little known attraction is worth a visit as the incredibly detailed doll house is fascinating. You can spend a bit of time exploring the detail and many rooms – and see how many mice you can find!
· The Pioneer Farm is a free exhibit located along the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 5.8. Visitors can view life as it was during the frontier days at this reconstructed farm devoted to settlers of Virginia. During the summer costumed actors explain what life was like and demonstrate various activities of the day.
· Grand Caverns. Operated by a regional park authority, Grand Caverns is less commercial and more natural than many other cavern attractions. Visit Cathedral Hall which is one of the largest rooms of any cavern in the East and soars over 70 feet high. With massive columns and rare “shield” formations, Grand Caverns was visited by both Confederate and Union Soldiers during the Civil War and is only 30 minutes from Cabin Creekwood in the town of Grottoes.
· Montebello Fish Hatchery. Feed the fish and see trout being raised in a mountain stream. It’s a great place for a picnic, too.
· Star B Stables offers hour-long trail rides in the Shenandoah Valley with very gentle horses that even young children will enjoy. The trail winds through woodlands and open pastures and through a creek and provides you with the scenery that Valley is known for.
· Pick your own apples and pumpkins in October at Dickie Brothers Orchard. Orchards are dense in the area with Drumheller’s Orchard, Flippin-Seaman, Inc and Mountain Cove Orchards and offer almost any variety of apples you can think of.
Picnic sites were mentioned above for a reason. With so much natural beauty, a picnic lunch is an obvious choice for solving the hunger pangs caused by a morning spent hiking or boating or visiting area attractions. Resting by a waterfall or at a table provided on an overlook you’ll find a carryout lunch or peanut butter sandwich just tastes better in the fresh air.
For dinner you might try barbecue at the Mill Street Grill (succulent baby back ribs) or the Blue Ridge Pig where both pork and beef is slow roasted on site for a succulent barbecue. South River Grill is the place to go if you are not in a hurry. The object here is to slow down, relax and have a dining experience instead of rushing through the meal. South River offers fresh seafood, hand-cut Angus steak and homemade soups and breads and is worth the time taken to enjoy the feast.
In downtown Waynesboro, an unexpected delight is the Ming Chinese Garden restaurant. From the outside you would not expect the dining experience that awaits you. One of the Horst’s favorite eateries is Vito’s Italian Restaurant with authentic Italian food, a pleasant atmosphere and good prices.
If you are visiting Waynesboro museums you might stop for lunch at The Purple Foot. This lunch- only restaurant was opened in 1978 and boasts an outdoor patio with fountain. The Purple Foot is also a wine and gift shop offering a variety of local and international wines and unusual gifts.
Visit Cabin Creekwood on your next vacation. You may find yourself declaring as many others do that these are the best cabin rentals in virginia! Do some research and plan your activities or do as Stan and Debbie Horst recommend – just come and plan day by day. If you have not spent some time in the Shenandoah Valley you don’t know what you’ve been missing!
About the Author:
Cabin Creekwood owners and operators Stan and Debbie Horst have been welcoming visitors to their Virginia Blue Ridge Mountain cabins since 1995. In the true spirit of Southern hospitality, Stan shares comprehensive, knowledgeable information about activities and attractions in the surrounding area. Stan and Debbie with son Kendall and daughter Jordan know where to find the best of everything in Central Virginia.