Blue Ridge Pky, Big Island, VA 24526 – Get Directions
Nice View from Bridge
The James River is one of the most accessible places to get on Virginia's Blue Ridge Parkway because it is the lowest elevation on the Parkway. Just north of the James River Visitor Center are some parking areas and trailheads for hiking along Otter Creek. I wish that we had had enough time to take a walk along the creek for a bit - it looked like a beautiful area.
The Visitor Center itself was still closed for the season when we visited. The building looked pretty tiny though. We couldn't find open bathrooms of any type in this area during the off season.
We ended up only getting out of the car to stretch our legs for a bit. We walked down to the bridge and watched some turtles in the river for a few minutes. There were lots of swallows under the car bridge that runs directly over the pedestrian bridge; so we watched the birds flying about as well. We didn't even make it all the way across the bridge to the reconstructed canal lock before my kids needed to find a bathroom. There is also a nature trail on the same side of the bridge as the visitor center.
The bridge is pretty impressive and there are plenty of kid-friendly nature trails. This is one of the nicer stops along Virginia's Blue Ridge Parkway.
Fun with the Family
Picnic tables are located downhill from the center. Otter Creek (mile 60.8) has a campground with sites for forty-two tents and twenty-six trailers and a restaurant. From the center, hike the half-mile Trail of Trees and the easy James River Trail that leads to the restored Kanawha Canal Lock. In the summer there are guided lock tours, as well as the James River Batteau Festival. This area is not wheelchair accessible.