The layout of this book follows nature's arrangement of the mountains. The goal was to provide easy access to information on various sites and attrac-tions, while letting the story of western Virginia unfold in sequence. The major divisions are Virginia's mountain provinces, taken from west to eastthe Plateau, the Valley and Ridge, and the Blue Ridge. A final chapter covers long trails and river valleys that ignore boundaries as they meander from one province into another. The 33.4-mile Virginia Creeper Trail, for instance, is about half in the Valley and Ridge, half in the Blue Ridge.
Generally, the book follows each province, in turn, from south to north. A visitor to Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge can glance at the table of contents or flip to the preceding and following chapters to see that Wintergreen and Sky Meadows State Park are nearby.
The book is broad in scopemore than a guide on where to go and what to do. Just as a cookbook and a recipe are the beginning of enjoying a meal, finding a state park or driving into a national forest is the beginning of adventure. What's special here? Can you see bears or bobcats? When is the hawk migration? What is this rock? Why the cedars? Are there waterfalls? Fossils? Caves? Good fishing?
We've loaded the chapters with extrasthe stuff of these venerable old hills. Tips a ranger, botanist, or biologist passed along. Discoveries made only after several visits to a park or preserve.
Feel free to personalize this guide with your own thoughts and observations. Mark it up, highlight the text, write in the margins, add notes: Push jewelweed leaves under watersilver! Photographed blurry upside-down reflection of full moon at Sherando Lake. Seven frogs identified by sound at Peaks of Otter. Our blessings.
The mountains smell good and the backroads beckon. We're shutting down the computer. Happy trails.
Deane and Garvey Winegar