Adventure Us: Carvins Cove – Hollins Tinker Creek Greenway

Carvins Cove, the nationally acclaimed conservation area adjoining Roanoke’s fresh water reservoir, is a gift that keeps on giving. Renowned for its 60+ miles of trails, Carvins Cove Natural Reserve draws mountain bikers and horseback riders from across the country. Its 12,500 acres of forest and mountain win it the prize of the largest conservation area in Virginia; with the 630-acre reservoir that supplies 10 million gallons of fresh water a day to the Roanoke community, it is also the second largest municipal park in the country. It’s overlooked by McAfee’s Knob and traversed by the Appalachian Trail. And thanks to its size, there’s always more of it to see. With that in mind, we recently set out to explore a new-to-us corner of the massive reserve: the Tinker Creek Greenway. 

This 5 mile round trip trail heads left out of the reservoir parking lot if you’re facing the lake (that’s south or a little southwest, if you’re good at directions) and climbs along the edge of the reservoir, tops the ridge, then drops down through forested mountainside and meadow to the other trailhead behind the campus of Hollins College. Along the way, it offers magnificent views of the reservoir below and the mountains beyond – especially in winter when the leaves are off the trees. Be on the lookout for wildlife… or alternatively, bring your own wildlife with you in the form of kids and dogs! Our kids had a wonderful time climbing the gentle slopes, scrambling on the interesting tree formations, and exploring along the water’s edge.

On a winter’s day, when you are looking for an excuse to turn off the news and get some fresh air, the Tinker Creek Greenway gives you a perfect adventure for the whole family! If the weather allows it, pack a lunch, and stop and enjoy a picnic and a view of the water either at the crest of the ridge, or at the picnic areas near the Carvins Cove boat launch. Be aware that for those starting from the Carvins Cove side, with the turn of the year, the Carvins Cove fee schedule has changed from $3 per adult to $7 per vehicle. Also, on the Hollins side, the trail passes through private property, so be respectful and stay on the trail.

Come enjoy another facet of one of the area’s (and the nation’s) most extensive, versatile, and beautiful outdoor treasures! If it’s too cold for a picnic, stop by one of the outstanding Hollins area restaurants on your way home, such as Hollywood’s or the Veranda Bistro.

Name: Tinker Creek Greenway, 9644 Reservoir Road, Roanoke, VA 24019 (Carvins Cove Recreation area and boat landing); 8375 Plantation Road, Roanoke, VA 24018 (Hollins trailhead)

Time from Roanoke: 10 – 25 minutes

Activity Options: Trails, fishing. picnicking, hiking, biking, horseback riding, beautiful views

Nearby Food: many Hollins area restaurants, including Hollywood’s Restaurant and Bakery, Veranda Bistro, Lews, Alejandros, Harbor Inn Seafood

Nearby Attractions: Hollins University, Walrond Park

More Adventure Us

Cristy Carr

Cristy and her family keep busy writing, tutoring, homeschooling, homesteading, and adventuring in the beautiful Appalachian mountains.
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