Relax. Recharge. Reset.
WanderLove: Check out six ideas and more as you schedule a road trip in Highland County!
Highland County offers a wide variety of activities to experience elevated mountain living. Check out our annual events here. Check out just some of our offerings below. After just one visit, don’t be surprised by that feeling to return! Explore other opportunities, lodging, restaurants and more with our membership directory.
Barn Quilt Trail
What are those painted wooden quilt blocks adorned on barns and houses in Highland County? They are barn quilts! Beginning in 2011, Highland County was the first county in Virginia to have its very own Barn Quilt Trail. With interesting names like “Five Reds,” “Colaw Apple,” or “Jacob’s Ladder,” each barn quilt tells a story, usually with significant special meaning about the owner, nature, family, business or design. When you follow the Highland County Barn Quilt Trail, you’ll wind your way through our back roads with a purpose. Can you spot them all?
Virginia Maple Syrup Trail
Visit local Highland County Sugar Camps for a tour and taste of delicious maple syrup, get your passport stamped at each one, and receive a free gift!
*** Please note that the Virginia Maple Syrup Trail Passport Program is ending on March 31, 2024! Passports must be received by March 31, 2024 to be honored. No giveaways will be supplied after March 31, 2024. Physical passports will not be distributed after December 31, 2023. ***
Sounding Knob Fire Tower
Over 100 steps up the Sounding Knob Fire Tower will give you a lasting memory of one of the best views in Virginia, and maybe even some wobbly legs! Restored by the generosity of Skip Jones and Steve Good in 2017, the tower sits just 1.3 miles up Sounding Knob Road from Rt. 250. Open year-round from sunrise to sunset! Follow the tower on Instagram and tag photos with #soundingknobfiretower!
Tol'able David Celebration
Tol'able David is a 1921 silent film that was filmed in Highland County. Many Highland County residents appeared in the movie as extras. Awarded a "Medal of Honor" in 1921 by Photoplay Magazine, the movie was a major box office success, regarded by critics and viewers as one of the classics of the silent film era. Enjoy a relaxing country experience with a self-guided driving brochure to view filming locations, many that look the same over a century later, or catch a specialty screening
Primitive camping is available on the Highland WMA with more information at dwr.virginia.gov/wma/highland/. In addition, The Shaw's Fork Campground in the North River Ranger District on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests operates on a first-come, first-served basis for camping from April 1st - December 15th. Vault toilets are available at this campsite on the eastern part of Highland County. Full details at www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/gwj/recarea/?recid=73951. Finally, the Allegheny MotoCamp is a campground just a few miles south of Monterey.
Charles Pinckney Jones House Museum
Built in 1850 and beautifully restored, come view this museum on Main Street in Monterey with the history, furniture, and artifacts of an impactful Highland County family. Relax on the front porch or stroll through the amazing garden space. The museum is typically open March through October on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with other times by appointment.
Fishing is a great way to get away! Highland County offers three rivers for public fishing: the Bullpasture, the Potomac and Laurel Fork. Favorites like rainbow, brown and brook trout swim the pure mountain streams.
Get off the road and lace up your boots for some hiking in the clean mountain air of Highland County. The Virginia Western Highland’s Trail Guide highlights four of Highland County’s hikes of varying difficulty. The Highland Wildlife Management Area (WMA) also provides over 14,000 acres for hiking, birding, primitive camping, and more: dwr.virginia.gov/wma/highland/. Check out a feature in Blue Ridge Outdoors about hiking in Highland by clicking here. The Facebook Group "Hike Highland" is also a resource for hiking ideas, directions, and photos in the area. The Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club has regional group hikes as another great resource.
Hunting is a favorite pastime in Highland County in our rural, unspoiled mountains. Whitetail deer, black bear, Eastern wild turkey, grouse and more can be found on private lands, George Washington and Jefferson National Forest and Highland Wildlife Management Areas. Check with the Department of Wildlife Resources for regulations and season.
Monterey Swimming Pool
Open from June to August, enjoy those summer days with the Highland County Recreation Commission pool, located next to the Highland County Public School complex in Monterey.
Highland County's quiet, winding roads welcome motorcyclists from around the country. Check out our Sweet Rides Brochure featuring local motorcycle routes. For a longer adventure, the Mid Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route travels through the eastern portion of Highland County in Section 3. Need a place to camp? The Allegheny MotoCamp is a campground for motorcyclists just a few miles south of Monterey. No matter where you go, enjoy the freedom and solitude our mountains have to offer!
The Highland County Museum
The Highland Historical Society runs a beautiful museum known as The Highland County Museum at The Mansion House that served as a hospital during the Battle of McDowell in May of 1862. Located at 161 Mansion House Road in McDowell, you can learn more about the significance of the Battle of McDowell during the Civil War with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Orientation Center, get acquainted with local ancestors and the formation of the county, and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1921 classic silent movie filmed in Highland County, Tol’able David. The museum is typically open March through October on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with other times by appointment.
Veterans Memorial and Walk of Honor
Dedicated in 2007, the The Highland Veterans Memorial and Walk of Honor honors Veterans from all branches of service. Visitors can stop, reflect and pay tribute with the commemorative engraved bricks, flags and plaques, located at the Monterey Courthouse Lawn at 165 West Main Street. Ceremonies are typically held on the closest Saturdays to Memorial Day and Veterans Day each year, sponsored by a local Ruritan Club or Monterey Lions Club.
Take a stroll through our small towns and rural countryside to clear your mind. Specifically, enjoy the Highland County Community Trail in Monterey for an easy loop to walk or bike.
- Artisan Trail Network: Handcrafted and locally-grown in Alleghany, Bath, Craig and Highland Counties
- Bike the Valley: Shenandoah Valley's Ride Guide
- Civil War Trails: Civil War Trails® has been working with communities since 1994 to share their stories and connect visitors with small towns and big stories across a network that now spans six states. There are four interpretive signs in Highland County to explore.
- Faces of Farmers: Faces of Farmers is a project of The Highland Center created to help unite customers with producers in a whole new way. By telling our farmers' stories, it aims to help market farms in the Allegheny Highlands region of Virginia and West Virginia and help customers learn more about their food.
- Fields of Gold: Regional agritourism program designed to collectively market and promote the Shenandoah Valley’s agritourism sites and activities
- Highland County Local Food Resource Guide: In 2021, Allegheny Mountain Institute partnered with 12 Highland County organizations and institutions to establish a community food coalition committed to increasing food security in Highland County. Community Fellow Jamie took the lead on the coalition’s first major project: a local food resource guide designed to better connect Highland County residents with available food and related programming! The guide includes information on local markets, emergency food and food assistance programs, and home gardening resources. Pick up your local food resource guide at various locations in Highland County, including the Visitor Center at The Highland Center in Monterey. Download a printable pdf version by clicking the link below.
Local Food Resource Guide (print version)
- Highland Wildlife Management Area (WMA): Highland Wildlife Management Area’s three separate tracts of land—Jack Mountain, Bullpasture Mountain and Little Doe Hill—comprise a total of 14,283 acres for hiking, birding, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, trapping and primitive camping.
Check out this video about the WMA at www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCzj5g9gRtA.
- Shenandoah at War Visitor's Guide: Downloadable guide to the Shenandoah Valley's Civil War Story - McDowell Battlefield information in Highland County begins on page 36 of the Visitor Guide (section 2 of the download).
- The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike National Scenic Byway is an historic highway from Staunton, Virginia across West Virginia to the Ohio River. Enjoy outdoor recreation, historic sites, unique shopping, arts and entertainment, railroading, and more. Follow US 250, US 33 and WV 47 to enjoy what this National Scenic Byway has to offer!
- Virginia's Western Highlands: 4-county travel guide and information, including Alleghany, Bath, Craig and Highland Counties