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The town of Natural Bridge is named after the arch found here that is formed from
limestone over many years. The town is classed as an unincorporated community
and lies in Rockbridge County, 149 miles east of Virginia’s capital, Richmond.
The Natural Bridge State Park is a must-do, where you can take a walk with your pup along some of the six miles of trails and seek out the town’s namesake, a 15-foot tall limestone bridge carved out by Cedar Creek. Your dog is permitted here, but must be kept leashed and always clean up after him. There is a small admission fee per person, but once in, you have access to the beautiful forest, trails, the living history museum and gift shop on site. In season, you may be lucky enough to see the 30-foot Lace Falls in action!
Dining out with pup is no problem in Natural Bridge, with three
restaurants at the Natural Bridge Hotel and Conference Centre that allow your
dog to sit by you at one of the outdoor tables. The Red Fox Tavern offers up a
traditional menu and beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the
patio. The Colonial Dining Room is open for breakfast and dinner and
specialises in Southern delights and buffet-style eating. For something quick
to grab as you head out for the day, the Archway Deli has a selection of
sandwiches, salads, soup, pizza and baked goods ready for you.
There are also plenty of pet-friendly places to stay in Natural Bridge; C&O Caboose, Natural Bridge/Lexington KOA, Virginia Log Cabin, Virginia’s Natural Bridge Park and Historic Hotel, Relax Inn and Budget Inn to name a few. The Natural Bridge Animal Hospital is open six days a week, so help is not far away if your pup feels unwell.
so much to see and places to explore around Natural Bridge, you and your dog
are sure to have a pup-tastic time here!
The Chessie Nature Trail in nearby Buena Vista is a seven mile dog-friendly trail that runs northwest up to Lexington through farmland and forest areas. The trail follows the route of the old Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad and is one of 1600 rail-trails supported by the nation-wide Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Dogs are permitted, but keep your pup on a lead as there is lots of wildlife in the area, including larger animals such as cows and donkeys. Glen Maury Park is also in this area and worth a visit. The 315-acre site has wooded trails, playgrounds, picnic areas and often has special events planned. There is also a pet-friendly campground here, should you wish to make a weekend of it.
The Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden in
Lexington, just 13 miles north of Natural Bridge, is a great day out for you, your
pup and your whole family. The 15-acre nature
center and woodland garden is a beautiful place to wander around, take in the
sights of the surrounding mountains and admire the incredible selection of
plant life on show. There are also 26 species of butterflies identified here
and a friendly turtle family in the wetlands to meet. For a little trail walk,
head into the Pioneer Forest, or relax under the shade while the kids enjoy the
Children’s Play Trail. For a bit of fun, seek out the Fairy Forest or the Big
Chair for a family photo. Dogs are welcome throughout the garden, but must be
kept on a lead at all times.
Otter Creek Campground and Trail is 16 miles east of Natural Bridge in Bedford and another great pup-friendly place to get out into nature. The trails here are part of the 369 miles of hiking trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway through the mountains. It is a picturesque spot, but go prepared with plenty of food, water, appropriate clothing and pup paraphernalia such as a bowl, lead and clean up bags. The Otter Creek Trail is 3.5 miles long and runs from the campground to the James River Visitor’s Centre. It is a fairly easy hike and is close to the motorway. The shorter Otter Lake Loop Trail at just under one mile is another pleasant walk, as is the 0.4-mile Trail of Trees that extends from the Visit Centre and through a shaded stream drainage, or the 0.4-mile Canal Lock Trail that takes you along a bridge to the old Battery Creek Lock.
If you are looking for a great way to relax for
a while with your pup, head up to East Lexington and catch a movie with your
dog at Hull’s Drive In. A concession stand sells all your favourite movie
snacks, such as popcorn, donuts and soft drinks, as well as a selection of hot
food. Park up and watch the big screen from the comfort of your own car, with
your beloved furry travel companion by your side. This place loves dogs, and
will even give your pal a treat at the gate! Lexington Coffee Roasters is close
by if you wish to grab a hot drink before or after the show, with delicious
bagels and cookies also on offer. You can sit with your dog at one of the
outside tables here.
The Lake A. Willis Robertson Recreation Area is 21 miles north of Natural Bridge n Lexington, and a lovely place to visit or even camp for a few days with your pup. The property is set over 581 acres and includes a 26-acre fishing lake. There are eight miles of trails to enjoy here, including a pleasant 1.6-mile trail around the lake. Come prepared for a forest adventure here – pack bug spray, comfortable, sturdy shoes and enough food and water for you both during your trip. You will also need to bring your supply of clean up bags and keep your pet leashed so both him and the local wildlife stay safe.
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