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Montgomery County

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New Trail System and Park Elevate Montgomery County’s Mountain Biking Scene

The not-so-secret is that Montgomery County is home to some of the finest mountain biking trails on the East Coast. At least the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) seems to think so. For years, riders have come to Blacksburg and Christiansburg to explore trails throughout the region, like those at Pandapas Pond, the Poverty Creek Trail System, and even the newer mountain biking skills park.

The routes available to riders just lengthened by about five miles thanks to development of the McDonald Hollow Trail System, the first in the new Brush Mountain Park. A total of seven trails are part of a stack-looped system that work their way to the peak of Brush Mountain and give riders opportunities to vary or extend their routes. The trails naturally become more challenging as elevation increases, with the half-mile Blunderbuss trail being the greatest test. The black diamond Blunderbuss descends some 240-feet from the trailhead along narrow switchbacks with jumps and optional gaps. 

A variety of intermediate and easy routes are abundant to ensure the trail system accommodates riders of all skill levels. Additional trails, as part of a second phase, are being planned, and include extending the popular Huckleberry Trail to the McDonald Hollow parking lot to allow for longer rides with even more types of terrain.

Access the McDonald Hollow Trail System via Meadowbrook Drive at Glade Road. This is a fortuitous location as just down the street on Glade Road, Rising Silo Brewery awaits to refresh riders with a pint or two of locally crafted brews.

Users of the trail are kindly reminded to leave no trace, use only open trails and refrain from riding on muddy trails to preserve the quality of the system. 

Home Grown Flavors of Montgomery County

Local agriculture has been a defining feature of the New River Valley for decades, and the quality of proteins, produce and other treats has only improved over time thanks to influences ranging from Virginia Tech’s agricultural thought leadership to local farmers who have remained dedicated to their trade. Fortunately, you don’t have to forage very far to get your hands – and taste buds – on Montgomery County’s agricultural bounty, as there are several farmers markets and “u-pick” locations open to the public.

Blacksburg Farmers Market

Every week, the region’s farmers and makers gather to showcase regional produce, baked goods, meat, eggs, handmade goods and even locally made honey at the Blacksburg Farmers Market. All of the farms are located within 50 miles of downtown Blacksburg, ensuring only the freshest, local flavors are on sale. In addition to all the great food, the Blacksburg Farmers Market plays host to talented local musical acts from spring through fall that add an element of liveliness to this agricultural celebration. The market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from spring through fall, and on Saturdays during the winter months.

Christiansburg Farmers Market

Just a short drive from Blacksburg, the Christiansburg Farmers Market is open every Thursday from May through October and showcases even more of the New River Valley’s locally grown and made produce, flowers, baked goods and more. And if all of that shopping makes you hungry, visit one of the on-site food trucks to taste some of that local flavor from our talented chefs.

Christiansburg Farmers Market

Three Birds Berry Farm

Spend some time on the farm foraging for sweet and succulent raspberries, blueberries and blackberries at Three Birds Berry Farms, just 7 miles from Downtown Blacksburg. All crops are pesticide free and organically fertilized, and you can fill up a pint with your hand-selected berries for just $3 (plus $1 for a reusable container). Once you have your bounty, check out their website ( to check out their “berry care guides,” which provide great recipes you can make at home.

Sinkland Farms Pumpkin Festival

What agricultural region would be complete without a massive festival celebrating it? Sinkland Farms is home to one of the region’s longest standing agritourism events, the annual Pumpkin Festival. Over a 6-week period each fall, visitors are treated to a variety of events on Sinkland Farms celebrating the region’s deep agricultural roots. Live music, kids’ activities, agricultural demonstrations and, of course, giant pumpkins make this one of the most cherished events of the year.

Sinkland Farms Hay Ride

Hethwood Market

A grocery store, carry-out restaurant and caterer, Hethwood Market in Blacksburg brings the flavor of farms to you through foods crafted with locally sourced ingredients. Try something new like wild boar meat sticks or something more familiar like The Hokie Griller – a seasoned, grilled chicken breast on a Kaiser roll with all your favorite toppings. In addition to prepared foods, you can also pick up locally made dairy products, baking supplies and snacks. Be sure to try the kettle corn! 

Hethwood Market also operates a farm stand in nearby Riner that serves barbecue meals to-go every Thursday, including pork, chicken, baked beans and mac-and-cheese. A portion of the proceeds from these meals goes to the United Way of the New River Valley.

Go to Town! in Blacksburg

One of Montgomery County’s two largest towns – Blacksburg – is internationally known for Virginia Tech and is indeed a quintessential college town. But, Blacksburg offers so much more to New River Valley visitors than higher education. Here are 10 must-experience Blacksburg locales for your next visit to Montgomery County. Go to Town!

Black Hen & Bar Blue

With a rich agricultural history, Montgomery County and Blacksburg have no shortages of delicious, farm-to-table foods and talented chefs. Black Hen & Bar Blue and its beloved culinary artist, Chef T, bring out the vibrant flavor of the region with sophisticated yet approachable dishes. Be sure to try the seared scallops and risotto, which contains mascarpone and a few other unique ingredients we’re not allowed to share. Go to Town! attempting to identify all the flavors in this rich dish, but be sure to save room for dessert.

Blacksburg Farmer’s Market

Taste your way through the flavors of Montgomery County and stop by the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market, open every Wednesday and Saturday, where local growers and makers sell their wares to the local community and restaurants. Depending on the season, you can take home flowers, meats, eggs, produce, baked goods, honey, handmade goods and more. All of the farms participating in the market are located within a 50-mile radius of Blacksburg, and use unique growing methods to lengthen the Appalachian growing season. As Southerners, they’re all of course very friendly so feel free to ask them about their growing processes as part of your agritourism experience. 

Top of the Stairs

Top of the Stairs, or TOTS as the locals call it, is a beloved Hokie hangout featuring indoor and open air dining overlooking one of the main thoroughfares of the Virginia Tech campus. In addition to the iconic neon Virginia Tech flag (which lights up the night sky after gameday), TOTS is locally known for a drink called The Rail, which answers the question, “What would it taste like if you mix all the liquors together in one drink?” Give it a shot and you’ll find it tastes remarkably better with each sip. Plus, the TOTS team might just make you an honorary Hokie.

Pandapas Pond and Poverty Creek Trail System

If mountain biking or hiking through nature is how you like to Go to Town!, be sure to check out Pandapas Pond, located in Jefferson National Forest. Claimed as some of the best mountain biking trails on the East Coast, mountain bikers can kick up mud over 19 trails and more than 30 miles of terrain. Trails are suitable for all skill levels from greenhorns to shredders, while rough rock gardens, switchbacks and grueling vertical climbs await all comers. The pond itself sits on the Eastern Continental Divide and treats visitors to a serene vista of rhododendron, dragonflies, turtles, songbirds, and waterfowl. 

If you’d prefer a more leisurely ride or hike, Poverty Creek Trail is the main multi-use trail at Pandapas Pond that features more gently rolling slopes across a 7.1 mile one-way trail, perfect for hiking, running, horseback riding, mountain biking, or just enjoying a picnic at the Pandapas Pond day area. 

Beliveau Farm Winery

With a desire to grow grapes and make wine, Yvan and Joyce Beliveau purchased land that had been overgrown with brush, along with the 1900’s farmhouse-turned-barn that sat upon it, in 2001. By 2009, the first grapes were planted and the first wine was produced in 2011. Beliveau Farm Winery officially opened in 2012 and a brewery was added in 2019 to produce gluten-free beers – currently Virginia’s only gluten-free brewery. While the variety of wines available, from the “Destiny” vidal blanc to the “Sweet Surrender” concord, are enough to impress any aficionado, more impressive is the 165 scenic acres of picnic areas, hiking trails and lavender fields that add the perfect touch of ambiance to your glass.

The Lyric Theatre

Blacksburg’s Lyric Theatre, originally opened in 1930 and the focus of major restorations throughout the years, is famous for being one of Virginia’s first cinemas to show sound pictures. Adorned with original 1930s tapestries, replica lanterns and the fully restored lobby and auditorium, today the Lyric Theatre is a hub for movies, concerts and performances. The Lyric Theatre is also home to some of the best popcorn in Montgomery County, so grab a bag and enjoy (we like it better with extra butter). 

Lyric Theatre

Moon Hollow Brewing

Moon Hollow Brewing Company boasts an inviting venue where people from all walks of life can connect over fresh, local brews. Named for the small plot of land behind the brewery space, the brewery treats patrons to a variety of locally influenced flavors, from a grapefruit ginger sour to a traditional Hefeweizen. While Moon Hollow does not have its own kitchen (yet), local food trucks are often on site in case you get the munchies. The brewery also is part of the Old Prices Fork School Revitalization Project, which is transforming the unoccupied school into a center for housing, retail, and food and beverage locations.

Moss Arts Center

Virginia Tech’s Moss Arts Center (known locally as the MAC) is a thriving community of art and inspiration, where visitors have meaningful experiences enjoying arts of the highest caliber in all its forms. In addition to hosting exhibitions and performances from globally and locally celebrated artists, the MAC treats visitors to hands-on experiences, workshops with visiting artists, lectures and symposia, master classes, community celebrations and more. Inside of the MAC is The Cube, a one-of-a-kind black box theater used for research, performances and visual art. 

New River Junction

The New River – one of the world’s oldest rivers – plays a significant role to Blacksburg, Montgomery County and surrounding areas, and the best way to explore this meandering waterway is to just jump right in and Go to Town! New River Junction is a family-owned campground and recreational park which offers access to the wide, shallow riffles and clear, warm waters of the ancient New River. Visitors can rent tubes (and a cooler) for the whole group and simply relax as they float down nearly one mile of calm water. For those seeking a bit more adventure, there is an optional 200 yards of exhilarating rapids at the end of the float.

Blacksburg Wine Lab

If you like wine but feel intimidated by the traditional tasting rooms, stop by Blacksburg Wine Lab for a more approachable wine experience perfect for beginners. Owners John Boyer and Katie Pritchard have created Blacksburg Wine Lab to treat wine amateurs and connoisseurs alike to an experience of tasting high-quality, lesser-known wines with a focus on educating clients on the science and flavors of wines. Blacksburg Wine Lab also serves a menu of foods ranging from appetizers to tinned seafoods to pair perfectly with your wine flights.

Go to Town! in Christiansburg

Christiansburg is one of Virginia’s largest towns and offers visitors an authentic New River Valley experience at a relaxed pace. The peaceful streets of the downtown are reminiscent of simpler times, yet under this quaint veneer of Christiansburg lies a bustling community with a rich history and vibrant culture just waiting to be explored. Here are 9 ways you can Go to Town! in Christiansburg during your next visit to Montgomery County and the New River Valley.  

Starlite Drive-In

After the sun sets, treat the family to a classic movie-watching experience at Starlite Drive-In. The theater has been entertaining locals since 1953 with new and favorite films of the past, like Grease and ET as well as concert performances from some of the country’s most well-known musicians. And if searching for unique pieces of Americana is your thing, the drive-in is the site of a local flea market every Saturday in the summer months.

Starlite Theater

Wonder Universe Children’s Museum

Wonder Universe: A Children’s Museum is all about letting kids have fun, burn off a bit of energy and play while learning about topics ranging from arts to the environment. Given Montgomery County’s agricultural history, the museum’s “Farm to Table” exhibit lets kids plant, harvest and buy or sell produce, then prepare a fresh meal in the farm kitchen. Oh, and in case you have any upcoming visits to the dentist, the “Dental Office” exhibit lets children take on the roles of both patient and dentist, helping them understand what it takes to have healthy, pearly white chompers.

Huckleberry Trail

The Huckleberry Trail connects Christiansburg with neighboring Blacksburg and is part of the nation’s rail-to-trail system, making the 15-mile trek perfect for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and abilities, whether walking, running or cycling. Montgomery County residents feel strongly about preserving and protecting environmental treasures like the Huckleberry Trail, so your visit to the trail is just one way you can explore like a local by enjoying one of their most cherished sites.

Photo by Austin Hodges

Christiansburg Institute

Established in 1866, the Christiansburg Institute was the first southwestern Virginia high school to educate formerly enslaved people. For 100 years, the Institute served African Americans across the state of Virginia. Today, Christiansburg Institute honors the Institute’s 100-year legacy of African-American education and empowerment through storytelling, community outreach and education, and historic preservation. The Edgar A. Long building is the last remaining structure from the original 185-acre Christiansburg Institute campus, and is currently under renovation to include a multi-platform museum exhibit showcasing Christiansburg Institute’s material and cultural history, and African American history throughout the South.

Additionally, Christiansburg Institute has revived the ECHO newspaper, originally published by the students of the Institute’s print shop, to serve as its own official newsletter. The online newsletter can be viewed on Christiansburg Institute’s website.

Photo by Sarah Hauser

Montgomery Museum of Art & History

The Montgomery Museum of Art & History is located in Christiansburg on East Main Street. The museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of Montgomery County and the region as well as promoting art by regional artists. As the region’s steward of art and history, the museum takes great pride in inspiring and educating through cultural programming. Additionally, the institution facilitates important community conversations by offering a forum for dialogue across differences and brings the community together using art and history.

Dude’s Drive-In

Treat yourself to a nostalgic dining experience with a visit to Dude’s Drive-In. Dude’s beckons visitors with the promise of all the authentic roadside grill flavor they can handle, complete with the formidable size of the Dude Burger, which challenges the best of appetites. Dude’s staff takes your order and brings your food right to the driver’s side window, just like the classic drive-in diners of earlier times. If you’re worried about the upholstery in the family truckster, just pull up a seat at one of the picnic benches or take your food to go.

Crimper’s Climbing Gym

Crimper’s Climbing Gym is the place to learn, practice, train, and perform the sport of indoor climbing, perfect in case you happen to catch a rainy day, or just want to try something new and exciting! From bouldering to top roping, Crimper’s offers a large variety of routes, making it the perfect gym for beginners and experienced climbers alike!

It’s Game Time at NRV SuperBowl

It’s Game Time at the NRV Super Bowl is a place where you and your children will get giddy with excitement (no matter what age) to bowl, play arcade games, spin out on Spin Zone bumper cars, enjoy a game of laser tag, or even try your hand at axe throwing!


Montgomery County’s History Highlights

With Virginia’s Jamestown Settlement – the nation’s first – just to the east, you might expect that Montgomery County boasts a rich history dating back to the country’s earliest years. You would be correct. In the mid-1650s, Abraham Wood was the first European-American to explore the New River Valley and the area that would later become Montgomery County.

To discuss all that happened in the region since then is far too much to cover in this brief article, so here are five significant events in the history of Montgomery County to get you started on your journey through the past of the New River Valley. Go to Town!

Mary Draper Ingles

In 1755, Mary Draper Ingles and her family embraced relatively peaceful days on their Draper’s Meadow homestead, what is now present-day Blacksburg. Although the French and Indian War raged throughout the American frontier, the Draper’s Meadow community lived in somewhat harmony with the Native Americans who frequently passed through the region. 

However, that all changed one day in July when many members of the settlement were killed and Mary, along with her family, were captured by the Shawnee and taken hundreds of miles into the wilderness.

Mary somehow mustered tremendous strength and courage and escaped her captors. Alone in the wilderness, Mary trekked through Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia with her only guide being memory and significant waterways before ultimately returning home to the New River Valley.

Today, Montgomery County visitors can trace her footsteps by visiting the nearby Mary Draper Ingles Trail, a collection of sights and experiences throughout the region that honor Mary’s courageous journey. 

Sisters in Black

One of the more notable tales in the history of Montgomery County is that of the Sisters in Black. The abridged version of the story goes that Martha Wardlaw inherited what had been a prestigious local school, Montgomery Female College, from her ailing sister and relocated to Christiansburg with her other sisters and family members to tend to the school. 

The sisters dressed in all black, often scaring the students as other bizarre events began to unfold. The sisters’ nephew, John Snead – who had a sizable insurance policy – first fell off a train travelling from his home in Tennessee to Christiansburg. Later, as if the train incident weren’t enough, John nearly drowned after falling into a cistern. But just weeks later, John died in a bizarre fire as his room was ablaze, and his bedclothes soaked in kerosene. 

The sisters were never charged for their suspected crime. Well, not in Virginia anyway.

Christiansburg Industrial Institute

Established in 1866, Christiansburg Industrial Institute was the first southwestern Virginia high school to educate formerly enslaved peoples. For 100 years, the Institute served African Americans across the state of Virginia. 

Today, Christiansburg Institute honors the Institute’s 100-year legacy of African American education and empowerment through storytelling, community outreach and education, and historic preservation. The Edgar A. Long building is the last remaining structure from the original 185-acre Christiansburg Institute campus, and is currently under renovation to include a multi-platform museum exhibit showcasing Christiansburg Institute’s material and cultural history, and African American history throughout the South.

Additionally, Christiansburg Institute has revived the ECHO newspaper, originally published by the students of the Institute’s print shop, to serve as its own official newsletter. The online newsletter can be viewed on Christiansburg Institute’s website.

Lewis Miller

A local folk artist from the 1800s who is revered for his sketches and paintings that visually captured everyday events throughout history, Lewis Miller is one of the most noteworthy artists associated with the New River Valley. Miller was first recognized by historians for his depictions of everyday life and insight into local culture and customs. However, the art community later began to celebrate Miller’s work as well.

Visitors can observe many of his works with a stop at the Montgomery Museum of Art and History in Christiansburg. In addition to Lewis’ works, the museum features exhibits detailing the history of Christiansburg. The museum also is home to an extensive library of historic books, newspapers and photos that all help to tell the story of the New River Valley.

The Preston Family and Virginia Tech

Perhaps no greater family has made a more significant impact on the New River Valley than the Prestons, given their association with the establishment of Virginia Tech. 

The Preston and Olin Institute, a Methodist academy for boys, was established in 1851 in Blacksburg. The Institute was named after Stephen Olin, a minister and former president of Randolph-Macon College, and Colonel William Ballard Preston, a well-known Montgomery County businessman, farmer and politician. Later in 1872, the Institute was financially struggling and was subsequently purchased by the Virginia General Assembly under the Morrill Act of 1862. The same year, the Commonwealth acquired 250 acres of land from the adjacent Solitude Farm from Robert Taylor Preston, son of Virginia Governor James Patton Preston.  

With this swath of land, including the house and several buildings that sat upon it, the Commonwealth formed the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, now known as Virginia Tech, and the first student enrolled on October 1, 1872.

Today, visitors can visit the original Preston family home – now a museum house – at Historic Smithfield, just outside the Virginia Tech campus.
If you would like to learn more about the rich history of Montgomery County and the New River Valley, check out Virginia’s Montgomery County published by the Montgomery Museum of Art and History – a 700-page collection of essays, photos and insights dedicated to the region’s past. Or Go to Town! and explore Montgomery County history first-hand with a visit to the New River Valley.