Fall is one of my favorite times of year. I love feeling the change in the air, the crisp coolness replacing the warm humidity, breaking out my flannel shirt or sweater, and watching the leaves show their true colors. There are a lot of great places to see the fall colors right here in the Lynchburg area. Below, I am going to share some of my favorite spots to see the foliage and link to some more information about the best times to go. You can choose to make it a quick trip or spend the better part of a day, driving, hiking, and taking pictures!
WHEN TO GO
Although the Fall leaves are not as bright here as they are in colder climates, the Lynchburg Area has some beautiful views of the foliage. The best times usually run from mid to late October. You can get regular updates on this year’s conditions here.
If you are interested in taking pictures of the views, consider going in the early morning to catch the beautiful sunrise colors sweeping over the mountains.
The first quick spot on the my list is Candler’s Mountain. There are a number of spot’s that are part of Liberty University’s campus where you can stop and see the view. One place with easy access is the Snowflex Lower Parking lot. Take Candler’s Mountain Road to the Snowflex and pull into the parking lot. This will give you a nice view without taking a lot of time. You can also see the leaves near Liberty’s Medical School Entrance, or if you want to take a hike, you can walk to the Monogram on the hill for a good view!
The second quick spot is the view from Riverside Park’s Stone Overlook. You can enjoy the history of the park as well as the view of the James River. The Stove Overlook gives you a beautiful view and provides easy access. You can also go for a hike on the Alpine Trail for more views, but this can take a little longer and requires good hiking shoes. Check out the map of the park and trails before you go.
There are a few secret quick spots around town where you can get a good view too, but I’ll leave that for you to discover!
The third quick spot would have to be Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a wonderful resource here in Lynchburg. People come from all over to explore the parkway, but we can get there in just a few minutes! After exploring the Parkway over the years, I have a favorite portion for taking in the most views in the shortest amount of time. The path goes from the Big Island Entrance on 501 to the Peaks of Otter in Bedford. The distance on the actual parkway is only about 22 miles, but allow plenty of time to stop at the overlooks or hike some trails.
The trip starts by heading North up 501 just past Big Island. Here you will enter the Parkway and turn right, crossing the bridge over the James River. Stop at the James River Visitors Center and get some information on the Blue Ridge Parkway; there are also restrooms here. If you walk just past the Visitors Center there’s a trail that crosses the river to the other side. My kids love the foot bridge and the chance to see look over the water and maybe even see a turtle. This is a great spot for pictures!
Next, keep driving down the parkway for a minute and check out the Otter Falls and Otter Lake. It is really easy to get to and worth the few minutes it takes. Once you are ready, head back the way you came and drive over the James again. It’s just over 20 miles to the Peaks of Otter, but there are a lot of trails and scenic overlooks along the way. Stop as much or as little as you like. The elevations and views going this direction from Lynchburg are, in my opinion, better than heading towards Charlottesville.
Take your time, stop often, and make your way to the Peaks of Otter. Once you get there, if you are up for a hike, the views from Sharp Top are gorgeous!
There is also a shuttle that can take you there for a fee. The Visitors Center can give you more information about the hike to Sharp Top or other activities like camping, the nearby lodge, hiking trails, etc. My kids and I enjoy the neat wildlife displays inside as well.
You have two choices when you get finished at Peaks of Otter. You can either go back the way you came or head into Bedford via 43. If you choose to go into Bedford, consider stopping at one of the apple orchard’s or the D-Day Memorial while you are there. Taking 460 from Bedford will quickly take you back to Lynchburg.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for upcoming events, local deals, what's new in Lynchburg, and of course more weekly content such as this!