Gail in front of what looks like a classic Appalachian mountain sinkhole along the Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail.
I'm not sure we'd ever walked this gentle old favorite clockwise, and so on this day we set off to the right and down toward the little stretch on Va. 672 before the loop stays mostly woodsy the rest of the way.
We also took a detour onto the Nature Trail for the first time, allowing us to pause for lunch in an open, sunny-when-it-was-out spot at the table of our choice in the trailer-camping section of Roanoke Mountain Campground (which, given its location, might be more accurately named the Chestnut Ridge Campground).
At this time of year, you see into both Southeast Roanoke and South Roanoke – to look at everything from trailers and old cars to fancy, hill-perched homes and new cars – through the bare trees, making the walk seem much closer to civilization than it does in the green months. And at any time of year, you cross Mill Mountain Parkway twice, adding to the in-town feel of a walk that's just 10 minutes from downtown Roanoke.
Hike: December 11, 2011
Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Roanoke. 5.4 miles.
How to get there: From Walnut Avenue in Roanoke onto Mill Mountain Parkway to parking on left near Roanoke Mountain Campground entrance.