Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway

The Big Walker Scenic Byway is one of our favorite drives through the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. The route takes travelers on a 16-mile journey through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the area. The byway is named after Big Walker Mountain, which is one of the highest peaks in the region.

The drive begins in Wytheville and follows Route 52 through the heart of the mountain range. Along the way, visitors will be treated to stunning views of the surrounding countryside, including rolling hills, dense forests, and sparkling streams. The road is well-maintained and offers plenty of opportunities to pull over and take in the scenery.big walker mountain


The Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway is located in southwestern Virginia, in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. The road starts in Wytheville and ends in Bland, passing through the Jefferson National Forest along the way. The road is easily accessible from Interstate 77 and is a popular destination for tourists.

It is further North than the Great Smoky Mountain and Cherokee National Forest area, but can be a nice drive to hit if you are going from there up to the Shenandoah area, meandering along the Blue Ridge Parkway.


The Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway is 16-miles long. The road is a two-lane highway that winds through the forest, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The drive takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, but visitors are encouraged to take their time and enjoy the scenery along the way. You are not going to be speeding on this drive.

Overall, the Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway is a must-see destination for anyone visiting southwestern Virginia. With its stunning views and well-maintained road, it’s the perfect place to take a leisurely drive and enjoy the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.

Notable Sights Along the Drive

The Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway is a beautiful drive that offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Along the way, there are several notable sights that visitors should take the time to explore.

walker mountain sign byway
Courtesy: Scenicbeauty-va.com

Lookout Points

There are several lookout points along the drive that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. One of the most popular is the Big Walker Lookout, which offers a panoramic view of the mountains and valleys below. Another great option is the Hanging Rock Overlook, which provides a stunning view of the Appalachian Mountains.

Recreational Activities

For those who enjoy outdoor activities, the Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway offers plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore. There are several really good hiking trails in the area, including the Big Walker Mountain Trail and the Appalachian Trail.

You are also within an hour from many other really good trails like the Virginia Creeper Trail to the southwest.

Visitors can also go fishing in the nearby streams and rivers. If you have your fly fishing gear along, try Cripple Creek or the East or West Fork Dry Run area for trout. Fishing pressure in this area isn’t too bad, and on a good day you should catch a few.

Nearby Landmarks

You can make a longer drive of it by stopping at a few of the local landmarks that are worth a visit while exploring the Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway. One of the most popular is the New River Trail State Park, which has more than 50 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails and is generally accessible all year-round. Another great option is the Shot Tower Historical State Park, which features a 75-foot tall tower that was used to make ammunition during the Civil War.

You will find plenty of other Civil War history in this area, including the town of Wytheville itself. The Battle of Wytheville took place in July of 1863, and there are many landmarks marking the Union’s approach to Wytheville and key battle sites itself.  It was a strategic battle in that it allowed the Union to cut of key supply lines for the Confederates.civil war

The Tunnel

One of the most unique features of the Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway is the 600-foot long tunnel that visitors must pass through. The tunnel was built in the 1930s and is a popular spot for taking photos and enjoying the unique experience of driving through a mountain. If you want some serious tunnels, though, you will see them nearby on Interstate 77. Both the Big Walker tunnel and East River Mountain tunnels are impressive engineering feats, but obviously you would never want to stop your vehicle on an interstate to admire them.

Travel Information

Best Time to Visit

The Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway is a beautiful drive that can be enjoyed year-round. However, the best time to visit is during the fall season when the leaves change colors, creating a breathtaking view. The peak season for fall foliage usually occurs in mid-October, but the colors can be seen from late September to early November.

If driving in the winter, you will want to be sure that conditions are good before veering onto the byway.  After a fresh coating of snow or slush, nearby Interstate 77 will probably be in much better shape than the Byway, but it doesn’t compare to the Byway’s scenery and slower pace.

Road Conditions

The road conditions on the Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway vary depending on the time of year. During the winter months, the road can be icy and snow-covered, so it is important to check the weather conditions before embarking on the drive. During the spring and summer months, the road is usually clear and easy to navigate.wytheville va

Biking on Big Walker Mountain Byway?

I see some people attempting to road bike on the Byway, but I suggest cyclists don’t. The shoulders are not wide at all, and there are often guardrails near the road. Plus, on many of the twists and turns, cars can’t see you until the very end.

Instead, try a different type of cycling. There are actually lots of mountain bike trails in the Wytheville area. A good bike shop like Hilltop Cycle can get you setup on a bike and point you in the direction of some safe trails.

Where to Stay?

When we have passed through the area, it has been part of a longer trip so we often don’t stay nearby. But from our exploring the area, there are a few places we would definitely like to try.

Nestled amidst the lush greenery and majestic peaks, you’ll find the charming Mountain Lake Lodge. This rustic retreat offers more than just a place to stay—it’s an experience in itself. Imagine waking up to the crisp mountain air, with stunning views of the surrounding wilderness right outside your window. Whether you prefer a cozy cabin or a room in the main lodge, the Lodge has good options for most travelers. It is probably the best choice if you want a place to have some downtime in addition to exploring the area.

Then, at the end (or the start, depending on which direction you are driving) is the delightful town of Wytheville, just a stone’s throw away from the scenic byway. You have the option of a couple historic hotels like the Bolling Wilson, chain hotels like a Country Inn or Hampton Inn, or a number of smaller AirBnBs or Bed and Breakfasts.

Dining Options and Local Cuisine

Visitors to the Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway can enjoy a variety of dining options, including local cuisine. Don’t forget to sample some of the mouthwatering southern cuisine at one of the town’s charming eateries. Perhaps my favorite find is the Graze on Main, which offers farm-to-table dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Another great option is the Log House 1776 Restaurant, which serves traditional American cuisine in a cozy log cabin setting. Visitors can also find several cafes and coffee shops along the route for a quick bite or a hot drink.  In our estimation, the area is best known for its southern cooking – fried chicken, sweet potato pie, and biscuits and gravy are things you might want to try while you are there.

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