Adventure Us: Fenwick Mines
Sometimes lesser known places hold a special kind of charm. Tucked away in the wilderness beyond New Castle, Fenwick Mines offers a unique set of attractions: hiking, swimming, picnicking, wildlife, a beautiful waterfall, a unique landscape, historical interest, and restful seclusion.
Fenwick Mines Day Use Area has a history that dates back 130 years to a time when mining was still common in the western Virginia mountains. From 1890 until 1926, Fenwick was a small mining community, home to a few hundred miners and their families. Over its brief existence, Fenwick produced thousands of tons of iron ore a year, hauled away to Covington and beyond by a spur of the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad. After only a few decades, however, the mine closed, unable to compete with the larger iron and coal operations of Pennsylvania. Today, the mine, the town, and the railroad are all gone, and nature has re-established its dominance. A short scenic ¾ mile hike takes you through the woods, across a marsh, and past a small pond. As you cross the marsh on the boardwalk, be on the lookout for all kinds of wildlife. In the spring and summer, we’ve seen nesting geese, turtles, and countless salamanders in and around the water. A little further up the trail, the pond provides a good fishing opportunity.
Just up the road from the wetland area, Fenwick Mines shows off another of its attractions: the Mill Creek waterfall. One of the most picturesque in the area, the waterfall tumbles in steps to a natural pool encircled by rock walls. The pool is a perfect place for wading, swimming, relaxing, and even getting a natural foot massage from the minnows.
Once you’ve had your fill of enjoying the water, return to the main parking area, where the spacious recreational area provides opportunities for grilling, picnicking, corn hole, horseshoes, or volleyball. For the more dedicated hikers or bikers, turning left (away from the main parking area) leads you north toward Lignite along the old railroad grade, now a forest road.
Bring your family and enjoy the many attractions and adventures of Fenwick Mines!
Name: Fenwick Mines Day Use Area, State Route 685 near New Castle, VA 24127
Time from Roanoke: ~45 minutes
Activity Options: Trails, Fishing, Swimming, Picnicking, History
Nearby Food: Pine Top Restaurant, Bibo’s Pizzeria, other convenience stores in New CastleNearby Attractions: Lignite (ghost town near Oriskany), Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing
Other Adventure Us Posts:
- Adventure Us: Roanoke area day trips, Part I
- Adventure Us: Roanoke’s Ice Cream Adventures
- Adventure Us: Grayson Highlands State Park
- Adventure Us: Snowflex
- Adventure Us: Addy Grace Playground