With strong rains only hours behind, the river far below the Mill Mountain overlook ran deep and muddy, but stayed within its banks. (Note the recently installed guide to area mountains at the overlook.)
On a rainy day we stayed close to home, and started out carrying umbrellas along the greenway beside the swollen, Werther's-colored Roanoke River as it sped along beside us, fed by small streams rushing into it with the heavy rains of the night before and earlier in the day. Chunks of log, old basketballs and random trash bobbed along in the muddy rush toward Smith Mountain Lake, along with one big-rodent-looking animal.
We turned around at the end of the current section of the greenway and headed back to our starting point, watching more junk roll past us in the river.
Back at the lot, we put on the packs and started up the mountain as the rain lessened; by the time we were halfway up, we got to put the umbrellas away. Still, aside from one man walking two or three dogs, we had the greenway and the Star Trail to ourselves, as we did the pavilion atop the mountain, where there was no rain, but the wind turned a damp, relatively mild day into a cold blustery one as we ate lunch.
The 1.6 miles down, as often happens on a cold day going down, was over in pretty much no time, with the umbrellas opened a time or two and then put away again.
From the Mill Mountain Star Trail parking lot: along Roanoke River Greenway to water treatment plant and back, up Star Trail and back. About 6 miles.
How to get there: From Jefferson Street in Roanoke, east on Walnut, and then left onto Piedmont and then quickly right onto Riverland to the parking lot.