Adventure Us: Carvins Cove

Adventure #9: Carvins Cove

Occasionally you find places that are fun for everyone from the youngest kids to the most hardcore enthusiasts. Carvins Cove is one of those unique places. 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. Most importantly, however, it is one of our kids’ favorite places to spend a weekend afternoon.

Activities abound here – even for those who can’t ride double black diamond trails and only wish they owned horses. There are plentiful picnic facilities and grills where you can enjoy a meal and the view over the water. From multiple piers or anywhere along the shore, you can fish the well-stocked reservoir. Interesting adventures await down the fire road, which follows the woods along the shore for a while before striking off into the mountains. Exploring along it, we’ve seen copperheads, skinks, deer, and other wildlife. Cutting down to the water’s edge, our kids have found interesting shale deposits containing many fossil prints, and enjoyed rambling the shore and skipping rocks.

But probably the best adventures we’ve had are on the reservoir itself. For a small hourly fee, you can rent kayaks or paddle boats and life jackets, and set out across the water. We paddled across the reservoir and explored the far shore – exciting times for the kids! (Note: due to Covid precautions, boats cannot currently be rented.)

It’s remarkable to have this kind of multi-faceted outdoor treasure so close by! Enjoy the beauty of the mountain panorama and the relaxation of the water, and share it with your family! 

On your way home (unless you caught your dinner in the reservoir), stop by one of the outstanding Hollins area restaurants, such as Hollywood’s or the Veranda Bistro.  If you came from the Bennett Springs direction, the renowned Home Place Restaurant is only a 10 minute drive up Route 311.

Name: 9644 Reservoir Road, Roanoke, VA 24019 (Recreation area and boat landing)

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

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Cristy Carr

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