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Smart View [MP 154.5]

destination-smart-viewSmart View recreation area extends from the Blue Ridge Plateau down to the fringing foothills. The name “Smart” was borrowed from a post office that used to be located nearby and it does apply to the scenery. Far reaching, mistily green and peaceful, it is “a right smart view” in the namesake vernacular of the region

Smart View offers several hiking trails and picnic areas (with rest rooms and drinking water) coupled with excellent views of the Virginia Piedmont. Various trails meander through moist deciduous woodlands, hardwood forests and open fields. The overlook is just north of the picnic area and you can access the picnic area from the Smart View Loop Trail that is just to the right of the overlook sign.

Smart View Loop Trail offers meadows with a deep stream drainage, several primitive bridges, a mild rock climb, a visit to a 1890 cabin (Trail’s Cabin, owned by the Trail family) and a pleasant walk through scenic forests. Along the trail you can find giant-sized sassafras, redbud, grapevines and a nice blackberry patch you’ll find ripening in the summer. The main loop is a three mile hike. You can create shorter hikes of 2.1 or 1.6 miles by utilizing a connector trail.

Trail’s Cabin was built in the 1890’s of rough hewn logs. The cabin was inhabited until 1925 when it was stripped of flooring and used as a barn. A spring flowed from beneath a nearby poplar that supplied water to both the house and the farm animals. Just above the spring, Mrs. Trail tended her garden plot. Tucked into the mountain vastness, the Trails lived in relative solitude but who would tire of the spectacular view just outside? In fact, on a clear day you can see Philpott Lake 1000 feet below. The cabin is typical of the one room pioneer cabins of the era, but in forested areas across the country very few of these remain making this site significant. It is also a scenic spot for viewing dogwood blooms in early May. [1]

This site is a great place for birding during spring migration, but summer also is productive with breeders such as hooded, Kentucky, and black-and white warblers, Acadian and great-crested flycatchers, blue-gray gnatcatcher, yellow-throated and red-eyed vireos, chipping sparrow, brown thrasher, and scarlet tanager. The big lure for most birders to this site is the breeding population of cerulean warbler. Moist forest floors lend themselves to other critters, as well. Look for red eft, the bright orange terrestrial form of the red-spotted newt, as well as eastern box turtle, and several species of colorful millipedes. Eastern chipmunk, red squirrel, red fox, and white-tailed deer are common throughout. Also watch for wild turkey roaming through these woods. [2]

[1] Blue Ridge Parkway Guide Volume 1: Rockfish Gap to Grandfather Mountain, William G. Lord, “Smart View Recreation Area”
[2] Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Side MSL01: Smart View Recreational Area, Blue Ridge Parkway”

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