Virginia is home to breathtaking beauty and exquisite scenery. Blessed with many gorgeous natural sites to explore, Virginia offers a gracious blend of rich culture, eye-catching scenery, and enjoyable outdoor activities. This is precisely why it is one of the perfect places to go overlanding.

While it is possible to go overlanding anywhere you want in the world, only a few places offer the fulfillment of driving in a state as blessed with beauty as Virginia. To help you experience spectacular views and unforgettable overlanding adventures in Virginia, here is a list of the best places to go overlanding in Virginia.

 

Exploring The Outdoors Of Virginia

Virginia is a southeastern state in the U.S.A. and is considered one of the 13 original colonies in the country. Widely revered for being the home and largest producer of oysters (the state farmed a whopping 3.5 million oysters in 2019), Virginia is also famous for the delicious Virginia Brunswick stew and gorgeous places like the Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive. Whatever ingredients offer tourists a fun and memorable vacation in the state, Virginia has it all. This is why it comes as no surprise that Virginia is one of the best places to experience overlanding at its finest.

Virginia is blessed with everything from plains to mountains and plateaus. Its diverse scenery makes it one of the best places to enjoy a fascinating trip, undoubtedly one of the best that anyone can enjoy in the United States.


Are you interested in exploring the state of Virginia on wheels? Here are some of the best overlanding trails in the state.

An truck in the woods.

1. Spearhead Trails (Mountain View)

A glance at Spearhead Trails will show why it is referred to as a world-class destination.

Spearhead Trails is one of Virginia's most exciting diverse-use spots. This multi-use system of trails is primarily designed for ATV riders. However, because any capable vehicle used for overlanding or otherwise (do you need an off-road capable vehicle for your adventures? Check out our list of ten best cheap overland vehicles!), you can navigate the trails without problems.

Spearhead Trails is located in Coeburn. It is a network of ATVs, hiking, horseback riding, and biking trails with stunning mountain views of the area. 

The best thing- or one of the best things, as Spearhead Trails is filled with fascinating views- is the network of trails that come in varying degrees of difficulty. This system of trails offers a mix of easy and challenging routes so that there is a trail for every person, from easy dirt paths to heart-pounding ATV routes with twists and turns.

With more than 118 miles of trails enveloped with trees on either side and 20 miles of Single Track, there are many lands to explore at Spearhead Trails. Couple this with the trails’ diverse flora and fauna, and it is easy to see that Spearhead Trails offers one of the best overlanding experiences in Virginia.

Spearhead Trails is open year-round. This means you can experience the beauty of these mountain-side trails in all seasons. While this is great, it is essential to know that you will need a permit to use all trails.

 

2. Potts Mountain Jeep Trail

Potts Mountain Jeep Trail is also known as Forest Road 5036. It is located in Jefferson National Forest, near Paint Bank.

Overlanding is the act of seeing the world on on-road or off-road terrains. Next on our list is a trail that offers the off-road-terrain overlanding experience.

Although Potts Mountain Jeep Trail is popularly used as an off-roading route, a particularly challenging one at that, it is also fit for an overlanding experience. If you crave a little overlapping trip that will get your heart pounding and adrenaline levels up, Potts Mountain Jeep Trail is your best bet.

Potts Mountain Jeep Trail is a 24-kilometer point-to-point trail near Paint Bank, Virginia. Although it takes an average of 8 hours to complete the course, depending on how fast you're going, Potts Mountain Jeep Trail offers an unbeatable challenging overlanding experience, Virginia-style.

Potts Mountain Jeep Trail is deeply rutted in some areas and rocky in many other parts. To navigate this trail without any problem, we recommend taking the journey with a 4x4 high-clearance vehicle. This will increase your chances of completing the trail and avoiding unpleasant vehicle-related sticky situations.

If you are new to the overlanding scene, we recommend not visiting Potts Mountain Jeep Trail.

 

3. Peter’s Mill Run OHV Trail

Peter’s Mill Run OHV Trail (check out this trail on the official USDA website!) might not be a particularly long overlanding route, but it offers the close experience with nature that many overlanders crave.

Also fondly called Tasker’s Gap, Peter’s Mill Run OHV Trail is located near Fort Valley. It is a peaceful 13-kilometer trail that experiences little traffic.

Peter’s Mill Run OHV Trail might be short, but it is also moderately challenging. We recommend this trail only if you have quite an experience navigating relatively rocky routes. Due to how challenging the trails are for regular vehicles, we also recommend visiting the trail with a high-clearance vehicle. However, seeing that only the first few kilometers on the trail are rocky, if you are experienced enough, you can take the risk with any regular 4x4 vehicle.

Peter’s Mill Run OHV Trail is a blend of various terrains and scenery, from rocky roads blanketed by few trees to more accessible dirt roads flagged by trees on both sides. 

The trail can be added from three parking areas in the area. Going north to south on the trail means going down the hilly road. Flipping it around and going south to north means going up the hill, which is fun to some.

Regardless of your route, driving through Peter’s Mill Run OHV Trail is a fun Overlanding experience to enjoy. The trail is open from early April - early January, and you will require a permit to use it.

 

4. Coal Road

Coal Road is another short trail in the Old Dominion State. However, unlike Peter’s Mill Run OHV Trail, this trail is very easy to navigate and can be traveled using any road-legal vehicle.

Coal Road measures about 23 kilometers with an estimated elevation of about 637 feet. It is open all season and makes the perfect short overlanding solo or family trip. In fact, you can travel on Coal Road as a detour to other challenging trails.

Coal Road is like one of those short and sweet stories you read, those you will never end. It features a mostly-raved point-to-point route with little to no obstacles along the way. The only evident problem you may encounter on this trail is the presence of potholes, but even these are minor problems.

While traveling on Coal Road, you will see hiking and biking trailheads. These roads can get very busy with hikers and bikers, but the area is still relatively peaceful. Without any problem, you can explore Coal Road in under two hours, regardless of the level of activity on the road.

From Coal Road, you can easily access Bald Mountain Jeep Trail and Turkey Pen Trail. However, unlike Coal Road, both trails are seasonal.

 

5. Mid-Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route

Mid-Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route might not be solely located in Virginia, but part of the trail is situated in the state, and this deserves a part on our list.

Also called The Mid-Atlantic BDR, the Mid-Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route is a scenic, multi-use route that combines various terrains like dirt, gravel, and paved roads in remote locations. Measuring about 1740 kilometers, this trail meanders through Virginia (where it kicks off from Damascus) and Pennsylvania, starting from Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland before ending in Pennsylvania. 

Traveling on the Mid-Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route will take you through the breathtaking Appalachian Mountains, peaceful farming landscapes, and dense but beautiful forests. By combining a system of forest roads and country lanes, the Mid-Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route helps overlanders experience the beauty of nature in Virginia (and outside).

In an interesting blend of dirt and pavement, while traversing various scenery, the Mid-Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route takes overlanders through nine sections of adventure. It offers the perfect trail to remain busy compared to much shorter trails constructed to the state's borders.

If you are traveling to The Mid-Atlantic BDR, make sure you do so between early spring and late fall. Although the trail is also open outside this duration, it becomes quite challenging to ride when it starts to snow.

Nature in Virginia

6. Flagpole Knob

Flagpole Knob is one of the many trails in the George Washington National Forest. It measures about 21 kilometers with an elevation of 1330 feet. 

Flagpole Knob is nestled on the border between Virginia and West Virginia. It can be accessed from Switzer Lake Road, Union Springs or Briery Branch Gap, all which offer interesting sceneries to explore.

Because this trail is mostly dirt roads with little obstacles, it is one of the easiest trails you can travel on in Virginia. Flagpole Knob offers a panoramic view of the mountains in the area, combined with the majestic wooded areas and the beautiful streams in the area. 

Although Flagpole Knob is relatively easy to navigate, it is essential to keep the trail’s condition in mind. With more than 12 miles of road and more than a thousand feet of elevation, it is important to go prepared. This means traveling the route with a 4x4 vehicle with high clearance. This will ensure that you can find your way around steep areas and narrow trails without any problem.

Flagpole Knob is open in all seasons. However, to be on the safe side, it will be best to check ahead for the road conditions if you plan to visit in the fall or winter.

 

7. Reddish Knob Spur

Reddish Knob Spur is located in Dayton, North River. It can be easily accessed from Flagpole Knob. All you have to do is return 5 kilometers to the intersection with FR 924. Afterwards, continue going south past the intersection for about 3.2 kilometers until you arrive at a forked road. Take the left path and continue driving about 0.6b kilometers.

Reddish knob is a 31.2-kilometer-long trail with an elevation of about 1300 feet. It is a multi-use trail, making it not only fit for overlanders looking to enjoy a scenic adventure but also hikers and bird-watchers that crave the ultimate outdoor experience.

Although not many people know this, all parts of the Reddish Knob trail is a collection of George Washington National Forest backroads except the northern 4 kilometers. The roads are mostly gravel and dirt roads, with only a few tricky and challenging rutty parts. This makes the trail easy to navigate with any 4x4 vehicle.

On Reddish Knob, you will find amazing views of the area in ridge-line views, panoramic views of the forest, and various interesting wildlife, including the red-tailed hawks in the area.

 

8. Pocahontas OHV Trail

Pocahontas OHV Trail Virginia is not to be confused with the Pocahontas Trail System in West Virginia. While they bear the same name, they are two very different trail routes. Regardless, they both offer unique and fun adventures.

Pocahontas OHV Trail system is a system of about 120 kilometers of trail system.  A newly established trail system in Virginia, Pocahontas OHV Trail is open to ATVs, UTVs, and other off-road-capable 4x4 vehicles with high clearance.

The trails cater to all experience levels, from newbie overlanders to experienced adventurers looking for a challenging trail to add to their list of explored routes. Pocahontas OHV Trail system is a blend of easy dirt roads, challenging muddy tracks, elevated ledges, and everything in between. While the terrains are a huge part of the overlanding experience that this trail system offers, the scenery is a cherry on top as the system offers a wide view of spectacular views of the hills and mountains. 

Although Pocahontas OHV Trail is open to the public for use, it is essential to have a permit before venturing on any of the trails in the trail system. The permit prices range from 30 to 60 dollars.

Pocahontas OHV Trail, like many other trail systems, is guarded by regulations that help to maintain safety and orderliness. The trail is open in all seasons from sunrise to sunset.

 

9. Savage River State Forest

This Virginia state forest has a network of more than 54,000 acres of terrains of varying challenges. These terrains are multi-use and are open to everyone, including hunters, motorists, mountain bikers, and hikers. 

All trails in the Savage River State Forest offer a peacefully quiet experience with nature, especially because the areas do not experience high traffic. With every change in season, you experience a whole new burst of colors and experiences. In every season you visit the Savage River State Forest Trails, you enjoy a delightfully unique experience.

Some of the trails in Savage River State Forest include Meadow Mountain Trail, Monroe Run Trail, Negro Mountain Trail, and Backpacker Loop 24. Each trail varies from 7.4 kilometers to more than 38 kilometers.

 

10. Big Levels 4×4 Trail – Blue Ridge OHV Route

Big Levels to the Blue Ridge OHV Route is a 27.4-kilometer point-to-point trail near Stuarts Draft. The trail’s north entrance is on Coal Road while the south entrance can be accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway. As a point-to-point trail, the Big Levels to the Blue Ridge OHV Route can be run from either direction without any problem.

Being a trail with some narrow paths, hairpin switchbacks, obstacles in various areas, water runoff, and an elevation that increases when driving from north to south, Big Levels to the Blue Ridge OHV Route is classified as a moderately challenging route. To travel this route, you will need a 4x4-capable vehicle.

 

Seeing Virginia On Wheels 

Virginia is undoubtedly one of the most exciting places you can explore in the United States of America. With vast land area and diverse scenery, it is easy to see why anyone will love to travel the various trails in Virginia.

Regardless of the trails you travel on, it is essential to remain prepared for each trip. Don't forget your basic overland gear on your quest for adventure. Always remember to practice the Leave No Trace Principles and stay safe wherever you go.

Are you looking for other interesting trails to explore in the USA? Check out the best overland routes and trails in the Midwest.

December 28, 2022 — Russ Hennings