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James River & Otter Creek, MP 60-63.8

Recreational opportunities here include hiking, camping, picnicking and fishing. An accessible fishing pier on Otter Lake provides opportunities for visitors with impaired mobility to fish for warm water species. A pedestrian walkway connects the James River Visitor Center with restored Battery Creek Lock from the Kanawha Canal.

James River is the Parkway’s the lowest elevation (650 feet above sea level) and a historic transportation route through the mountains, represents a major geological (water gap) and cultural component of the Blue Ridge section of Virginia.

The 3.5-mile Otter Creek Trail follows the creek from the Otter Creek Campground down to the James River Visitor Center. The trail can also be accessed from overlooks at MP 61.4, 62.5 and 63.1. At the visitor center, the James River Canal Trail will take you to the restored James River and Kanawha Canal Lock that was built between 1845-51. When completed the canal had 90 locks and went from Richmond to Buchanan, Virginia.

Area hikes include: Trail of Trees, Otter Creek, Otter Lake Loop and James River Canal Trails. View map of James River & Otter Creek Area

What to Do and See

  • Hike one of the many nearby trails
  • View the restored Battery Creek Lock
  • Stop by the James River Visitor Center, MP 63.8
  • Enjoy a picnic at the picnic area
  • Camp at Otter Creek Campground, MP 60.8
  • Go fishing from the pier on Otter Lake, which is handicap-accessible
  • Eat at Otter Creek Restaurant (currently closed)

Check the operating hours and seasons for all visitor centers, campgrounds, and concessions when planning your visit.  

Highlights & Happenings

  • Craggy Gardens, MP 364
  • For generations, visitors have headed for the Craggies in June, typically the prime time for viewing the pink and purple blooms of Catawba rhododendrons that blanket much of the area.
  • Blue Ridge Music Center
  • The Blue Ridge Music Center is a state-of-the-art performing arts facility built to preserve and promote the historic music of Virginia and the Blue Ridge.
  • Mount Pisgah, MP 408
  • Mount Pisgah’s spectacular views, hiking trails, picnic area, campground, lodge, restaurant, and country store make this area a popular destination for visitors along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Doughton Park, MP 240
  • The Brinegar Cabin, craft demonstrations, and diverse hiking options and make Doughton Park a must-experience destination along the Parkway.
  • Folk Art Center, Milepost 382
  • Open year round, the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway showcases the finest in traditional and contemporary craft of the Southern Appalachians.
  • James River & Otter Creek, MP 60-63.8
  • At the lowest elevation along the Parkway, visitors can hike, camp, fish, have a picnic, and see restored Battery Creek Lock from the Kanawha Canal.
  • Moses H. Cone Park, MP 294
  • Today the manor and the entire estate are one of the most heavily used areas along the Parkway and home to the Parkway Craft Center. Carriage roads are popular for hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing, especially by residents of the Boon
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Directory & Travel Planner
  • The 68th edition of the Blue Ridge Parkway Directory & Travel Planner is your ultimate source for planning a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Hiking Trails
  • A journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway offers motorists spectacular views of Southern Appalachia’s diverse beauty for 469.1 uninterrupted miles.
  • Blooms & Wildlife Watching
  • Don't forget your cameras and binoculars when visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway! Learn when and where to see blooms along your journey.
  • What To Do
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is more than a road – it is a beautiful journey that entices visitors to explore a 469-mile gateway to America’s rich cultural heritage.
  • Nearby Accommodations
  • Explore the quaint towns and vibrant cities that the Blue Ridge Parkway weaves through, and a variety of lodging choices.
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