Top Wintertime Activities at the Cabin

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Living in the city offers a variety of activities to enjoy at any given moment even in the winter. However, noisy traffic and the constant hustle and bustle of people can get old and monotonous.

For our friends in nearby cities, such as Richmond, Roanoke, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, and Washington DC, Blue Grass Cabin can provide a quick and inexpensive vacation to the hills of Highland County, where families can leave dirty, snow-slush streets for solitude, bonding time, and relaxation.

Reserve your winter or holiday stay at Blue Grass Cabin, which includes three bedrooms, two baths, a full kitchen and dining area, an outside deck, covered front porch, and a cozy family gathering area complete with a plush couch, recliner, and warm, stone fireplace. (View our full list of amenities here!)

To add to your stay, here is a list of 10 fun, snowy-day activity suggestions. Just stock up on some food items and a few supplies before you hit the road!

PLAY A BOARD GAME Monopoly, Clue, Trivial Pursuit… Pack some of your favorite family games, stop at the store to purchase your favorite snacks, slip on the cozy, comfy pajamas, and enjoy a family game night!

WATCH A CHRISTMAS MOVIE Could anything be better than watching a Christmas classic by the fire while sipping hot cocoa and cuddling in a big snuggly blanket? Hop on Netflix, and watch White Christmas. Or find Holiday Inn, The Christmas Story, or Prancer!

CREATE WINTER CRAFTS Set up Santa’s Workshop at the dining table. (Just make sure to lay a protective cover on the tabletop!) Create fun, handmade Christmas ornaments, sparkling pine cones, penguins from egg cartons, or your own customized snow globe. Here’s a link for more ideas!

A WALK IN THE WOODS Hugging the cabin is a beautiful forest where families can explore and learn about nature. Take a camera, photograph different birds or trees, then bring the images back to the cabin where you can research your findings!

ICE SKATING AT THE HOMESTEAD For around $15 to $25 per person (depending on the time of day and age of the individual), your family can make memories by gliding on the ice at the historic Omni Homestead resort, located in Hot Springs, Virginia, which is an approximate 45-minute drive from the cabin.

RELAX WITH A COLORING BOOK Even though grown-ups might act skeptical about adult coloring books, you know they’d love them. Besides, it’s supposed to relieve stress, right? Grab a coloring book, some warm cider, and enjoy creating with the family! (A very personal keepsake for the scrapbooks!)

WINTER SPORTS AT SNOWSHOE Skiing, snowboarding, shopping, good restaurants, and more are laid out for families to peruse and enjoy at this mountain-top resort. Snowshoe, which is about 45 minutes away, also holds special events including concerts. Check out their website for more details!

BAKING PROJECTS Have you ever built a Gingerbread house? If not, your vacation at the cabin is a great place to start. Just stop at the store and pick up the ingredients on your way in. Decorative, seasonal sugar cookies are also a fun project – a treat to savor during that Christmas movie!

SNOW FUN Usually in January or February, you can find snow on the ground in Highland County. If so, let your imagination guide you! Build a snowman version of your family. OR! Each member of the group can build their own snow fort. Then… let the snowball fight commence! (Remember, there’s a warm fireplace and homemade hot chocolate inside afterwards!)

INDOOR CAMP OUT If there’s no snow on the ground, no worries! The weather is always right for an indoor fort made of blankets, chairs, and pillows! Set up camp in the living room or bedrooms, grab a story book (or coloring book!), and enjoy!

Living Room cropped
Relax in Front of our Cozy Fireplace

Four Free Fall Activities

Traveling on a budget is sometimes hard, but Blue Grass Cabin guests can easily have a memorable and relaxing time in Highland County with these free-to-inexpensive activities:

Barn Quilt
Photo Courtesy: Highland County Chamber of Commerce

BARN QUILT SELF-GUIDED TOUR: With over 50 barn quilts in Highland County (and only 36 listed on the self-guided brochure), our mountain paradise is home to the first barn quilt tour in Virginia. “What’s a barn quilt?” you may ask. This unique piece of artistry, which decorates country barns, is a hand-painted square featuring a pattern similar to a quilt square. The first barn quilt trail began in 2001 with Donna Sue Groves of Adams County, Ohio. Today, Highland County is one of the thousands of communities nationwide that participates in this newer tourism and heritage trend. A majority of squares featured on the Highland County Barn Quilt Tour were created by local barn quilt artist Margie Boesch of Highland Barn Quilts while others were created by local residents. Take a look at this online brochure from HighlandCounty.org to see the variety of shapes and colors you can find along the trail. It can be a learning experience for kids or even a kind-of scavenger hunt for all ages!

 

 

rainbow-trout-117482_960_720VIRGINIA TROUT COMPANY: Whether you’re a child or adult, feeding the fish at the Virginia Trout Company is a sight to see. For a very small charge (maybe a couple quarters), the attendants will give visitors fish food. Toss a handful in the water, and watch the raceways come to life! Even if its a cold day, the raceways are only a few steps away from the parking lot, so it’s a good opportunity for travelers to stretch their legs. Plus, one can always purchase a box of frozen whole trout or fillets for dinner. During warm weather visits, ask the attendants to see the source of the water, where the stream begins. They will provide direction to a hidden area behind the raceways. There, visitors can experience a mini-oasis where the spring spills out from directly underneath the mountain.

 

 

Highland County
Photo Credit: Highland County Chamber of Commerce

SCENIC DRIVING SELF-GUIDED TOUR: Another Highland County self-guided tour includes a Scenic Driving option that points drivers through the beautiful Bullpasture, Cowpasture, and Blue Grass valleys. Explorers will also pass through Big Valley, Back Creek, and Doe Hill – all of which are little corners of Highland County that are even less-populated and showcase true country and remote living. Additionally, the McDowell Battlefield Drive holds something for history buffs as it highlights the Highland County Museum & Heritage Center, Sugar Tree Country Store, the historic and cannonball-hit McDowell Presbyterian Church, as well as Sitlington Hill and the McDowell Battlefield, itself. Click here to download the online brochure through HighlandCounty.org!

 

 

 

HHS_Museum_smallHIGHLAND COUNTY MUSEUM & HERITAGE CENTER: As mentioned above, this educational stop is part of the Scenic Driving tour; however its also a great stand-alone attraction. Enter the museum through the massive door of what is locally-known as the “Mansion House,” which was originally owned by George Washington Hull. Believed to be the first large brick home in the village, the house served as a hospital during the Battle of McDowell in 1862. Around the turn of the century, the Bradshaw family operated the Mansion House Hotel, which catered to those traversing the historic Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike. Today, it houses the McDowell Battlefield Orientation Center as well as other exhibits that feature local history as well as civil war info. It is also home to the Highland Historical Society – a group of volunteers and one employee, who passionately document Highland County’s history.

 

IMG_5777BONUS TIP! If a getaway where you stay tucked away sounds ideal, Blue Grass Cabin is fully-equipped with a full kitchen and features a spacious back deck for warmer days as well as a cozy fireplace with a nearby comfy couch where you can curl up in a large blanket with a good book, your favorite movie, or settle in for a Netflix binge.

Navigate over to our Rates & Reservations page to plan your trip!

Planning Tips for Hands & Harvest

Highland Farmers Market
Customers line-up to snag their ag goodies at the Highland Farmers’ Market (Photo Credit: The Highland Center)

Every year on the second full weekend in October, the Highland County Hands & Harvest Festival celebrates the culmination of the area’s agricultural production season with maple sugar camps, farm tours, apple butter, the Highland Farmers’ Market, maple doughnuts, local honey, local cider, and more. On Friday – Sunday, October 11-13, 2019, visitors can traverse throughout the county and experience farm life amidst the vibrant, autumnal, rolling hills that lovingly embrace the fields and farmlands of Highland County.

Even though Highland County is one of the smallest counties in Virginia, there is still a lot of ground to cover. Here are a few notes to help you plan your Hands & Harvest trip:

 

New festival attractions this year include:

 

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The Little Switzerland Cloggers perform Saturday at 1 pm! (Photo Credit: Sundance Studio & Productions.)

In addition to new live entertainment listed above, festival goer’s can enjoy these returning favorites:

Additional Fun Festival Activities:

  • FRIDAY APPLE PEEL & COOK: At Laurel Fork Sapsuckers Sugar Camp
  • HARVEST TRAIL: A self-guided farm tour throughout Highland County. (Visit the Hands & Harvest webpage to download a digital map!)
  • ANNUAL HANDS & HARVEST ROD RUN: A car show at the Blue Grass Ruritan Club
  • FAIR LAWN FARM: Learn about old-time traditions on an charming, historic, family farm
Fair Lawn Farm
Fair Lawn Farm owner Tim Duff shows young visitors how to peel an apple. (Photo Credit: Fair Lawn Farm)

Returning Favorites:

For more detailed festival information, visit the Highland County Chamber of Commerce website or call (540) 468-2550. We hope to see you at Hands & Harvest!

5 Fall Area Day Trips

For explorers longing to see a variety of sites in one trip, Highland County, Virginia, is a perfect home base. In an easy one to two-hour drive, travelers can ride historic railways, view naturally growing Venus Flytraps, learn about the search for extraterrestrial activity, and explore 460-million year old caverns.

Here is just a sampling of day trips where one can achieve adventure while staying at our Blue Grass Cabin. (And the potential fall colors in these locations is just an added bonus!)

Day Trip #1: Cranberry Glades

Cranberry Glades Botanical Area photo credit Pocahontas County CVB
Photo Credit: Pocahontas County CVB

This protected botanical area, known as Cranberry Glades, is the largest collection of bogs in West Virginia and is home to extremely rare plants for this part of the United States, such as carnivorous or insect-eating plants. Over 10,000 years ago, climate and glacial changes made way for several species of unique plant life to migrate from Canada and the northern U.S. and take root in this unique, 750-acre property. Two boardwalks allow visitors to traverse through the bogs and view these plants in their natural habitat. Visitors may also spot wildlife, such as the American Black Bear, West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel, Red-tailed Hawk, American Bald Eagle, Coyote, Cooper Hawk, Screech Owl, and White-tailed Deer.

 

 

 

Day Trip #2: Seneca Caverns

Seneca Caverns Fairyland Photo Credit Dorothy Stephenson
“Fairyland” Photo by Dorothy Stephenson/Life’s A Dance

In about an hour’s drive through scenic, country back roads, travelers can discover the attractions at Seneca Caverns. Drive up around noon, and pack a lunch to enjoy under the picnic shelter or dine in Asbury’s Restaurant, a log-cabin eatery located next door to the cavern’s entrance. (The caverns and the restaurant share a parking lot, so you can walk from one to the other.) However, before you enjoy lunch, reserve your spot on the next cave tour at the Seneca Caverns Visitor Center. Then, get some food in your belly and walk it off during the one-hour tour that takes explorers 165 feet below the earth’s surface to see stalagmites, stalactites, fairies, devils, Chief Bald Eagle, and Princess Snow Bird. Some NFL teams even make a special appearance, too!

 

 

Day Trip #3: Greenbank Observatory

Greenbank Observatory Photo Credit West Virginia Tourism
Photo Credit: West Virginia Tourism

Visit the Greenbank Observatory to see the world’s largest steerable telescope, which weighs 17 million pounds and has a surface that could hold two entire football fields! Even though the famous telescope is so massive, it can be directed with an accuracy of one arcsecond – the equivalent to the width of a human hair seen from 34 feet away. Learn about the fascinating world of radio astronomy from the pioneer instruments of the 1950’s to today’s most modern technology. Visitors can also take a SETI tour, which offers exciting and comprehensive info on the on-going search for extraterrestrial life. On the Behind-the-Scenes High Tech Tour, one can visit telescope control rooms and engineering labs normally off limits to the public. Not to mention there are walking trails, a gift shop, a cafe, star parties, and Star Lab Sundays – a planetarium event offered every Sunday at 2 pm.

 

Day Trip #4: Cass Scenic Railroad

Cass Scenic Railroad photo credit Train Wizard Productions-Pocahontas County
Photo Credit: Train Wizard Productions & Pocahontas County CVB

Built in 1901 to haul lumber to the mill in Cass, West Virginia, Cass Scenic Railroad is now a state park where visitors can experience the same Shay locomotives used in Cass during the time of the railway’s creation. Home to the world’s largest fleet of geared Shay locomotives (six to be exact!), the legendary turn-of-the-century class C-80 Shay #5 has been making the trek up Cheat Mountain for nearly 100 years, which makes it one of the oldest engines in continuous services and the second oldest Shay in existence. From September 24 through October 27, the train will depart the station at 12 pm Tuesday through Sunday for riders to enjoy a relaxing and scenic ride up the mountain. (View their website for additional seasonal hours.) The approximate 22-mile trip lasts around 4.5 hours and climbs to an elevation of 4,842 feet to Bald Knob, the third highest point in West Virginia.

 

 

Day Trip #5: Blackwater Falls

Blackwater Falls Photo Credit WV State Parks
Photo Credit: West Virginia State Parks

Explore one of the most photographed attractions in West Virginia – Blackwater Falls. This 57-foot cascade is tinted by tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. A short walk on a well-maintained path will lead visitors to several viewing platforms where the falls can be enjoyed year-round. (Other landmarks, such as Elakala Falls, Lindy Point, Pendleton Lake, and Pendleton Point Overlook, are also located nearby if you want to add more sites to your trip!) And if your geocaching enthusiast (or even if you’re a first-time geocacher), there are plenty of hidden cache sites to search for. The park also offers more than 20 miles of hiking trails for the warmer months as well as cold-weather activities including cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and is home to the longest sled run on the East Coast. Not to mention, this site is a photographer’s paradise during any season!

 

Of course, at the end of any day-trip adventures, you can settle in at your home-away-from-home, the Blue Grass Cabin. Comfortable beds, a soft couch, a fireplace, and a back deck offer the relaxation opportunities you need after a big day of exploration!

Family Fun at the Highland Fair!

County Fair (Calendar of Events)
Photo Credit: Highland County Fair

The Highland County Fair means many different things to many different folks in our majestic, mountain community: the end of Summer, the culmination of livestock projects, nostalgia, family tradition, celebration, relaxation, volunteerism, you name it…

This year, 2019 marks 68 years of our community pulling together to host one of our iconic events – the Highland County Fair. Locals volunteer to work food stands, drive golf carts to pick-up and deliver parking guests to the fairgrounds, serve on committees, help and encourage youth, and so much more. Some even volunteer throughout the entire year just to see this annual goal through to fruition. It is at the heart of our community.

221 HC Fair HS 09
Photo Credit: Kathy Cobb Photography

On Saturday, August 24, the annual Highland County Fair will kick off with the Highland County Horse Show, a portion of the festivities that elders the Fair’s 68 year history. English and Western riders from around the community and the region bring their equine friends to the fairgrounds and compete in classes, such as Cloverleaf Barrels, Youth Horsemanship, Over Fences, and Pleasure and Gaited classes. (In yesteryears, the Horse Show was the main event of the Fair and took place on Saturday. It began around 9 am, took a break for lunch and dinner, and in some years, lasted until close to or after midnight!)

Festivities continue on Wednesday with the Fair Parade, the Demolition Derby on Thursday, the Tractor and Diesel Truck Pull on Friday, and the Truck Pull on Saturday. Other favorites including the Hog & Cattle Show (Wednesday), the Goat & Sheep Show (Thursday), the Kiddie Show, Sheep Costume Contest & Obstacle Course, and the Little Switzerland Cloggers show (Friday), and the Dog Show, Cornhole Tournament, and Bluegrass Show (Saturday) will be back.

In addition to the aforementioned event staples are NEW ATTRACTIONS this year including:

To see a full Schedule of Events, CLICK HERE!

 

Early 2016 Fair pics 017
Photo Credit: Highland County Fair

Of note for families, Wednesday night is “Family Night” and offers a reduced rate of $6.00 for “Ride All Night” wristbands, and on Saturday, there is a matinee ride time from 1 – 5 pm when wristbands are only $10. (Normally, “Ride-All-Night” wristbands are $15 each.)

Of course, one can always have fun at the Fair on a modest budget by taking in the arts & crafts, baked goods, educational, sewing, and photography exhibits in the Elementary Gym, enjoying the free live entertainment throughout the fairgrounds, AND one can spend a mere 25 cents per card on games of Bingo. (The latter is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat multiple times throughout the evening!) And of course, you can enjoy yummy fair food, such as chicken patties, hamburgers, steak subs, ice cream, onion rings, and french fries, while enjoying the attractions.

Also, if you plan to attend multiple nights of the Fair, purchase a Season Ticket for $25. You can buy this ticket at the gate during the event or at any pre-sale locations, which include Blue Grass Mercantile, Brightway Exxon, Fast Break, Lightner’s Electrical, Stonewall Grocery, and Rexrode’s Country Store. Season Tickets went on sale August 7. (Regular daily admission is $10 for ages 15 and up. Kids under 15 are free!)

But… as an adult… we have to say the best thing about the Highland County Fair is the opportunity to turn into a kid again! Come out to the 2019 Highland County Fair, grab some cotton candy, ride the Ferris Wheel, and take in one of the oldest small county fairs in the state of Virginia!

Highland Hiking Trails and Tips

Highland County offers gorgeous views on hiking trails; however the lack of cell service on the more remote trails can be a bit intimidating. Rest assured. Pre-planning and safe hiking practices can lower the risk of potential issues and reduce your worry during excursions.

Here are a few pieces of advice for anyone planning a trail adventure:

  • Communication: Be sure to tell someone where you are going, when you will leave, and when you will return. It can be someone you’re staying with, a friend in the area, or (at the very least) a family member or friend back home, who can track you. In addition to supplying them with the where’s and when’s of the hike, also give them the number of the Highland County Sheriff’s Office (540-468-2210) to report any issues that may arise. (Take it one step further – Leave the same info taped to the inside of your car window in case a law enforcement officer or fellow traveler stops to check on you.)
  • Beware of Wildlife: Critters, large and small, are always a possibility when hiking, and Highland County is no exception. Stay aware of your surrounds, pay attention to the trail in front of you, and look where you plan to step. Additionally, hikers should thoroughly check themselves afterwards for ticks.
  • Remember the Survival Rules of Three: A human can last three weeks without food, three days without water, and three hours without shelter. (FYI: Hypothermia can kill in less than an hour if you are wet and the temperature drops below 40 degrees!)

    Steves Safety Kit
    Sample Survival Safety Kit
  • Carry The Proper Supplies: Whether you’re planning a short or long hike, ALWAYS be prepared with a sufficient amount of supplies. You’re in luck because Steve Pullinger, an owner of Blue Grass Cabin, is a survival specialist. Here is his hiking supplies packing list, all of which should easily fit in a small backpack or large fanny pack:
    • Cell Phone – Service is a bit sketchy, but sometimes you can get lucky.
    • Pepper Spray or a pistol – For protection from aggressive wildlife.
    • Walking Staff – For climbing and assistance.
    • A Map – For obvious reasons. 🙂
    • Survival Blanket and Rain Poncho – To use for shelter and warmth.
    • Sawyer Mini-Straw – To filter drinking water.
    • Fire – Two lighters, a pack of matches, and a roll of 0000 steel wool for tinder will ensure warmth.
    • Food – Carry a couple protein bars and some GORP.
    • Super Glue – It fixes so many things and can be used as backwoods wound care.
    • Other Helpful Items – A leatherman tool, paracord or similar cordage, a small AAA flashlight, an extra pair of glasses (if needed), and any medications needed.

     

HIKE #1: MCDOWELL BATTLEFIELD TRAIL

Photo Credit: Winifred Stephenson/Hike Highland
Photo Credit: Winifred Stephenson/Hike Highland

Take a trail through history when you hike the same grounds the Civil War soldiers did during the Battle of McDowell. This approximate two-mile hike is an easy to moderate excursion that will take hikers to the top of Sitlington Hill for an expansive view. There’s not much shade on this hike so be prepared with necessary sunscreen, water, and other provisions and protection.

Trailhead: From Monterey, travel east on Rt. 250 over Jack Mountain heading towards McDowell. Pass through the town of McDowell, and continue another two miles (approximately) to the parking lot and trailhead, which is located at the start up Shaw’s Ridge. (Still on Rt. 250 east).

Additional Tip: Stop in the Highland County Museum before your hike to learn more about the historic happenings that took place on the hill.

 

 

 

HIKE #2: LAUREL FORK PROPOSED WILDERNESS AREA

Laurel Fork Photo Credit Todd Frye
A view from Laurel Fork Trail, which can be accessed via the Locust Spring and Buck Run Trails. Photo Credit: Todd Frye

Laurel Fork is definitely a remote location; however with some of the most diverse scenery and old growth forests in the state of Virginia, it’s something all nature lovers should see. At approximately 4,000 feet, this adventure offers a cool break from high temperatures of other locales. And for the advanced hiker and adventurer, trails within the Laurel Fork area can be combined for a multi-day backpacking excursion. (Definitely exercise good communication if you decide on the backpacking option!)

Trailhead: From Monterey, travel west of town on Rt. 250 over Monterey and Allegheny mountains. A short distance past the Virginia/West Virginia border, turn right onto WV28. Then, turn right onto FR106 and travel .4 miles, left onto FR60 for .3 miles, right onto FR142 for .2 miles, and finally, park at the Locust Spring Picnic Area. You will see the trail head for the Locust Spring Run Trail at the bottom right of the picnic area.

For more detailed information, we recommend visiting the Laurel Fork profile on HikingUpward.com.

 

HIKE #3: HIGHLAND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA

Highland WMA2
Photo Credit: Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

Approximately three to four miles east when traveling on Route 250 out of Monterey is a pull off on the right at the top of Jack Mountain. Upon further inspection, you will see a gravel road, which leads to the Highland Wildlife Management Area. (Click on the link for usage fees!) When you travel this road (AKA: Sounding Knob Road), you’ll find a small piece of the larger 14,000+ acre area that includes diverse habitats, a plethora of wildlife, and a variety of views – an area where you can customize the length and features of your hike! As always, be aware of wildlife such as snakes, bear, fox, and more. These critters are usually fairly elusive but are present, nonetheless.

Trailhead: From Monterey, travel east on Rt 250 up Jack Mountain and look for a gravel pull off area labeled “Sounding Knob Road” at the top of the mountain. Drive in, decide on a hiking area, find a parking spot, and enjoy!

For more info, visit the Highland Wildlife Management Area profile on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

OTHER HIKES

For other hiking recommendations, contact the Highland County Chamber of Commerce or check out the “Hike Highland” Facebook group page, which was created by a local resident.

MOUNTAIN THERAPY & REJUVENATION

Living Room cropped
Relax in Front of our Cozy Fireplace

Highland County is healing. Those who live here, visit here, and (most importantly) RECOVER here, can’t deny it. If you’re at a point in your life where you feel stuck, uninspired, or just plain, old burnt out, a getaway to the refreshing, wide open spaces of Highland County can be invigorating, uplifting, and sometimes even lift-changing.

At Blue Grass Cabin, we can offer you a tranquil getaway to calm down, collect yourself, cool off, take a break, kick your boots off, put your feet up, or whatever relaxation phrase is right for you. Additionally, we recommend these local activities or services that will aid in your restorative, mountain therapy:

 

HEART & SOUL MASSAGE

Massage picOf course, the go-to when it comes to rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation is massage therapy. Licensed Massage Therapist Nicole Frye at Heart & Soul Massage in Monterey can quickly tell just what your body and mind (and heart and soul!) need to be repaired. Therapeutic massage, deep-tissue massage, hot stone massage, and Reiki are just a few services she offers. However, one huge thing Nicole gives to each and every client is her open ears, full attention, and compassion. She can tell what you need almost from the moment you walk through the door. With her years of experience and knowledge, she will, no doubt, leave you feeling much lighter, less knotted, and refreshed when you leave. (Just make sure to drink plenty of water afterwards! Also, plan for some post-massage nap time, too, just in case!)

To book an appointment, call Heart and Soul Massage at (540) 292-0568.

 

EMERALD MOUNTAIN SANCTUARY

Emerald Mountain SanctuaryOriginally from Germany, retired clinical psychologist Annette Naber now lives at her Emerald Mountain Sanctuary, a 58-acre farm home that consists of pastures, forests, and a few small ponds. Given her professional history, desire to empower women, and passion for helping others, Annette along with her husband, Dan, have opened their little slice of Highland heaven to guests as a retreat and small conference center. Together, the couple offers workshops in self-care, stress management, life simplification, forest bathing, nature walks, journaling for self-therapy, backyard foraging, individual and group coaching sessions, and Yoga classes.

If you’re feeling lost with no direction, Annette is an absolute treasure that will provide valuable insight to experiences and methodology that could greatly help you gain significant clarity.

For more info on her services, visit the Emerald Mountain Sanctuary website!

HOT TIP: For the motorcycle enthusiasts out there, Annette’s husband, Dan, also owns and operates Allegheny Motorcycle Tours, which offers guided rides throughout Highland County and surrounding areas! He is in the process of building a motorcycle campground, which should be open to the public in spring of 2020.

 

MONTEREY WALKING TRAIL

Monterey Walking TrailMany come to Highland County for outdoor recreation. While there are several hiking trails in the area, most options are remote and out of cell service range. For those who just want a quick, relaxing stroll, check out the Monterey Walking Trail, which loops through the charming town and past our LOVEworks sign. (One can park at the Highland Pool Complex to start walking. The entrance to the complex can be found off Route 220 heading south out of Monterey.) The trail is equal parts nature, community, and quiet neighborhood and offers an approximate mile to mile-and-a-half stroll.

Once you’re done walking the loop, step through the rest of the town. Shop through thrift stores and flower and gift shops. Stop by the Walk of Honor and pay respects to Highland County’s veterans, and take in the view of our historic courthouse. (History Factoid: The current courthouse building is the second structure which was rebuilt after a fire JUMPED THE STREET(!!!) from a two-story store, which was formally situated on the current Summit Community Bank lot.)

 

YOGA AT SUNDANCE STUDIOS

Yoga 4Have you ever had a pain in the neck? Like an actual, serious, legit pain in your neck? Or your back? Hips?? As we all probably know, stress can physically manifest itself throughout our bodies. Yoga is a tool that can absolutely help with that!

No, it’s not about being flexible or finding inner peace (although it doesn’t hurt that either). It’s about postures and movement that will allow your muscles to loosen. It’s also about incorporating proper breathing techniques, which, let us tell you, can help stress and physical health tremendously. What’s more, this class, located at Sundance Studios & Productions, is for all levels – beginner, intermediate, or advanced.

Instructor Sage Tanguay starts each session by checking in with her class to determine what specific needs they have that day. She, then, progresses the customized lesson to her clients’ needs. As a result, her students are able to clear their minds, use their breath to relax, and walk away from her class feeling light and refreshed.

For a complete class schedule, visit the Sundance Studios & Productions website.

 

SELF-GUIDED BARN QUILT TOUR

Barn QuiltImagine… Crusing along the back roads of Highland County with a kind-of treasure map. What are you in search of? Colorful, locally-created barn quilts. Like bright blooms popping from a green garden, these delightful pieces of artwork are creatively scattered throughout the countryside for travelers to enjoy on the first and largest barn quilt tour in Virginia (to our knowledge).

How to find them? Stop by the Highland Visitor Center on Spruce Street in Monterey or download the online brochure to find these vibrant treasures throughout the county.

Not only can you enjoy local artwork, but you can also experience Highland County’s scenic back roads and spectacular views while doing it!

Six Picks for Locally-Sourced Foods

Our beloved Blue Grass Cabin features a fully-furnished kitchen perfect for meal prep. With its open concept, one can prepare a locally-sourced meal in the kitchen while visiting with family and friends who may be perched at the adjacent dining room table or kicking it back on the couch.

Now the question is: In a county so plentiful with local foods, where is the best place to find the succulent selections? Pick one (or a combination of!) our six picks for locally-sourced food and find all you need for a homegrown meal while you’re visiting our Blue Grass Cabin!

 

1) HIGHLAND FARMERS’ MARKET
Highland Farmers Market

The Highland Farmers’ Market opens in late-May and runs through mid-October. (Usually the last market of the season is Hands & Harvest weekend.) So that means, on Friday evenings from 3:30 to 6:00 pm, you can drive to The Highland Center on Spruce Street in Monterey to shop a selection of seasonal produce, meats, baked goods, maple syrup, and other locally-raised and locally-made foods. (And sometimes there’s even an arts and crafts vendor or two sprinkled in!)

To stay up-to-date with Highland Farmers’ Market news, follow them on their Facebook page, which also features the occasional fun giveaway or a delicious recipe!

 

2) BIG FISH CIDER CO.

Big Fish CiderBig Fish Cider Co. is a microcidery located on Spruce Street in Monterey, Virginia. (If you get lost in the complex town of Monterey, just look for the BIG trout behind the Monterey Courthouse!) Local Cidermaker Kirk Billingsley and his crew create uniquely-flavored ciders using locally-grown apples and traditional techniques. Additionally, their cider is available in a range of off-dry to semi-sweet blends and seasonal offerings. (One of our favorites is Church Hill Blush!)

The Big Fish Tasting Room is open Fridays from 4:00 to 7:00 pm and Saturdays from 2:00 to 7:00 pm. Stop by and see which selection tickles your taste buds the most! (And if you happen to be free on a Friday, visit between 5:00 and 7:00 pm. There’s usually a jam session featuring local bands and musicians!)

 

 

 

3) THE CURLY MAPLE

The Curly MapleIn the mood for a sweet treat? The Curly Maple has you covered! In addition to carrying locally-sourced products, such as meats and maple syrup, this former general store turned coffee shop/eatery/grocery stop is also home to one of the county’s most beloved bakers – Melissa Moyers, who is famous county-wide for her culinary talents.

On any given day, you can handpick your favorites from a selection of cookies, cakes, and candies. Recent creations are presented with rustic elegance in an old antique display, which was donated by Dorothy Colaw Shepherd, a cherished 92-year-old lady who visits the establishment for coffee every morning. (Sit down and talk with her. She doesn’t know a stranger, and she can tell some great Highland County stories! As do her compadres that sit with her! )

 

 

4) VIRGINIA TROUT COMPANY

Virginia Trout CompanyOne thing Highland County is know for besides that iconic maple syrup is their delectable Allegheny Mountain Trout, which is available at the Virginia Trout Company on route 220 north approximately 4-5 miles from Monterey. Here you will find a selection of whole, filleted, or smoked trout that you can bring back to Blue Grass Cabin and pop in the oven or throw on the grill.

While you’re there, gander at the fish swimming in ponds fed by a natural stream that flows right out from under the mountain. This is a great activity for kids and families! You can even feed the fish or toss in a line and catch your own! (Just bring your own pole.) The guys at the Virginia Trout Company will even clean your catch for you!

 

 

5) ALLEGHANY MEATS MARKET

Alleghany MeatsAlleghany Meats is located just a couple miles north of the Virginia Trout Company. So you can get your fish and meats in two close, conveniently-located locations! Customers can visit the facility and market from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and shop a rotating stock of frozen beef, bison, hog, goat, and lamb from local producers. You can call ahead to see what’s in stock and even place an order for pick-up.

Established in 2012, Alleghany Meats is a USDA-inspected, Animal Welfare Approved, value-added slaughter and processing facility that bridges a gap between local meat producers and their customers. This facility works with local meat producers to offer the finest quality USDA-inspected and custom meat processing options, including smoked products. For more info about Alleghany Meats, visit their website!

 

6) SUGAR TREE COUNTRY STORE

Sugar Tree Country StoreSugar Tree Country Store and Sugar House is a small retail and wholesale store located just off route 250 in the village of McDowell. Owned and operated by Glenn and Fern Heatwole and family, the store stocks a variety of pure maple products, jellies, honey, candles, hand-crafted toys, baskets, pottery, and many other products (including homemade Apple Butter!) If you love old general stores, this is a great one to explore!

The Heatwoles gather “sugar water” from local sugar maple trees growing at elevations of 3,000 to 4,000 feet. After collection, they bring the “water,” or sap to the sugar house, which is located behind the store, for boiling and syrup creation. Want to know more about the process? Ask them! They love answering maple questions! (Just don’t plan your visit on a Sunday as they close to observe a day of rest and spend time with their family.)

An Extra Tip! Sugar Tree Country Store is located next to the Highland Historical Society! Visit two attractions in one trip!