Bent Mountain Falls
Bent Mountain Falls looks bigger when flanked by ice; Kurt's hair looks slightly less gray when mostly covered with a headband.
On a cold January day, you can have the pretty Bottom Creek Gorge Preserve to yourself. At least we did on this day, until we were back at the car and another couple was about to start in.
The feeling of isolation is abetted some by the ruins of the old homesteads and other structures, far more visible when there are no leaves to hide them. You can convince yourself of a mildly ghostly context if you care to try a little.
The winter version of the trek's highlight – the 200-foot Bent Mountain Falls – is fuller too, as the ice around the slender falls itself makes it look a bit bigger than it really is.
As cold as it was – just above 30 – we planned to skip lunch in the woods and eat on the way home. At the sunny viewpoint for the falls where we usually eat, The Day Hiker got all uncharacteristic from her usual worries over the cold and said we shoulda brought lunch after all.
Trails of the Bottom Creek Gorge Nature Preserve. 5 miles
How to get there: U.S. 221 south from Roanoke to a right on Va. 644 and then Va. 669 to the short entranceway to the small parking area.