This is THE weekend for all the leaf watchers and Parkway drivers in Virginia. We had plenty of rain this year, so I'm guessing that is why this is shaping up to be a very colorful event. Not only is this the best weekend for the colors, the weather in Virginia is forecast to be absolutely perfect. All of this combined, I would venture to guess the Blue Ridge Parkway will be pretty crowded. If you want to avoid some of the crowds and and just take a lazy ride and still see some beautiful country, there are several alternatives. One of which is through some back roads of Franklin County. I ride up through this way occasionally just because the country is so pretty. From the Roanoke area, if you drive south on 220 and south of the Parkway entrance there you will travel through the small town of Boones Mill. There is not a lot there, but it is a very neat little town. If you continue south just a few miles and follow these directions you can make a nice day drive out of this loop...
- Turn west onto Rt. 739 (Bethlehem Road) on the north side of the Shell Station. As you travel along Rt 739, Cahas Mountain is on the right. Near Fairmont Baptist Church Rt. 739 turns right, but you should stay on Bethlehem Rd., which is now Rt. 643.
- At Callaway Road (Rt 641) turn right. The Blue Ridge Mountains can be seen in the background as you drive to Callaway.
- At the A & A Market in Callaway, stay on Callaway Rd, which now is Rt. 602.
- At 0.2 miles, turn left onto Rt. 642 (Foothills Rd.) at the Piedmont Presbyterian Church.
- Follow Foothills Road until it intersects with Five Mile Mountain Rd. (Rt.748)
- Turn right onto Five Mile Mountain Rd. (Rt. 748). The Blue Ridge Mountains can be seen in the background.
- At Rt. 640 (Turner’s Creek Rd.), you have the option of (1) turning left and traveling to Ferrum or (2) staying on Five Mile Mountain Road (now Rt. 640), which will take you into Floyd County.
- At Ferrum you can visit the Blue Ridge Institute and/or Ferrum College, both of which are located on Rt. 40 to the left of the intersection of Turner’s Creek Rd. and Rt. 40. Note, at the Phoebe Needles Center, Turner’s Creek Road changes to Rt. 748. From Ferrum, take Rt. 40 east to Rocky Mount and Rt. 220 north back to Boones Mill to complete the loop or take a ride on Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, The Crooked Road, on Rt. 40 west.
- You can pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway off Rt. 640, approximately 1.5 miles from the Floyd/Franklin county line. Left (south) on the Parkway goes to Maybry’s Mill and points south, and right goes back to Roanoke.