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We all know the type. That friend who loves everything outdoors but still balks at the thought of sleeping under the stars with nothing more than a sheet of nylon offering protection from things that go bump in the night. Fortunately, for those outdoor lovers who still prefer boutique hotels to nights in the backcountry, there is a happy compromise—glamping.
I’m exploring one of Virginia’s most pristine paddling destinations—and one of the Blue Ridge’s best-kept secrets—Philpott Lake. A sanctuary of serenity stretching into Franklin, Henry, and Patrick counties, the 3,000-acre lake was created more than a half-century ago, part of a government effort to prevent flooding and provide hydropower. Following bouts of severe flooding throughout the first half of the 20th century, including a flood on the Smith River in 1937 that put the town of Bassett underwater, Congress authorized the construction of the Philpott Dam in 1944. The Army Corps of Engineers set to work on the dam in 1948, and both dam and powerhouse were completed in 1953, making 2018 the 65th anniversary of the creation of Philpott Lake.
Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains just 30 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Philpott Lake is an idyllic place for fishing. The 3,000-acre lake offers anglers a consummate slice of serenity and a number of highly sought species of fish, from the deep-dwelling walleye to the largemouth bass lurking along the craggy shoreline.
Philpott Lake is a natural sanctuary in Southwest Virginia that provides a locals and visitors alike a welcome escape from the everyday workings of modern life. This sprawling lake region offers not only the quiet beauty of time on the water, but is surrounded by almost 20,000 acres of pristine wilderness with the Blue Ridge Mountains rising up in the distance. The setting makes for the perfect place to enjoy a day (or more!) of boating, fishing, and swimming, all while taking in the scenic vistas unique to this part of the state.
Framed by the undulating foothills of the Blue Ridge, Southwest Virginia’s Philpott Lake is an idyllic escape, teeming with outdoor adventures. Located just outside Martinsville, Virginia, the sprawling 3,000-acre lake is cradled by 7,000 acres of mixed hardwood forests—it feels like a slice of pristine wilderness. But the lake’s proximity to Martinsville also means there are plenty of ways to pair outdoor exploits and cultural excursions, all while savoring the serene Blue Ridge backdrop. Here are seven unique ways to make the most of a trip to this scenic section of Virginia.