Giles County, known as “Virginia’s Mountain Playground™” is a mountainous area sharing the natural beauty of its neighboring state of West Virginia. Giles County has a lot to offer when it comes to outdoor adventure whether it be hiking on the Appalachian Trail or boating the New River. You may also find a lot in the small-town atmosphere of the communities of Giles County.
What to Do in Giles County
Recreation and Nature
Giles County is a mountainous area allowing people to explore and play. There are many options for hiking especially the Appalachian Trail, a trail measuring over 2,000 miles running from Maine to Georgia. The New River Water Trail offers canoeing and kayaking on one of the world’s oldest rivers.
Hiking in Giles County may lead to extraordinary sites of nature. One trail leads to the gorgeous Cascades Waterfalls and Barney’s Wall, which has an overlook of a mountainous rock formation. The Appalachian Trail leads to overlooks Angel’s Rest and Kelly’s Knob. Mill Creek Nature Park and Jefferson National Forest offers a lot of scenery and activity for anyone feeling adventurous.
If you are wanting to add to the outdoor experience by camping, there are plenty of camping options in Giles County. Some are close by to outdoor adventure opportunities.
Arts and Heritage
There are many historical sites to check out in the county including Virginia’s remaining covered bridges, the county courthouse, and many others. The oldest remaining brick house—The Andrew Johnston House—in the county, once owned by one of Pearisburg’s earliest residents houses a museum dedicated to 19th century life.
Art and music are a part of the heritage of Giles County. The River Sculpture Walking Trail in Pearisburg features sculptures from local artists. You may also find several art studios and galleries, and festivals with live music bring communities together.
Two movies have been filmed in Giles County. Principle filming for Dirty Dancing (1987) was shot at Mountain Lake in Pembroke. It’s filming location is open to the public with a self-guided tour. A most recent film, Wish You Well (2012) was filmed in various places throughout the county including some of its communities.
Dining and Shopping
Enjoy local dining in the mountainous communities of Giles County. The sophisticated Palisades Restaurant is a favorite establishment in the county. Enjoy the original trinkets made by local artisans and other gifts found in local shops throughout Giles County. Be sure to check out the outfitters that sell whatever you need for your outdoor adventures, such as Tangent Outfitters close by to the Cascade Falls.
History & Heritage
Andrew Johnston House Museum
This historical house, built by Colonel Andrew Johnston is both a museum and the location for Giles County Historical Society. Once owned by the Johnston family of Giles County, it is the oldest brick house in the county still standing. The interior of the house remains its 19th century atmosphere.
Giles County has few of Virginia’s covered bridges, a historical type of bridge not commonly seen. The three bridges in Giles County include Link Farm Bridge, Sinking Creek Bridge, and Reynold’s Farm Bridge.
Giles County Web Directory
The Time of Your Life
Filming Location of Dirty Dancing
The Academy Award® winning 1987 film Dirty Dancing, a romance about two summer lovers at a mountain hotel resort was filmed at Mountain Lake Lodge located in Pembroke. The resort is always accepting guests and the public is able to visit to see many of the iconic structures seen in the film including Kellerman’s hotel, the gazebo overlooking the lake, and “Baby” Houseman’s cottage. The area also includes a self-guided tour of places where scenes were filmed, an exhibition of Dirty Dancing photographs and newspaper clippings, and a gift shop selling exclusive Dirty Dancing filming location merchandise.
Mountain Lake is a naturally dried lake which is unique for a body of water. Nearby is the Mountain Lake Biological Station of the University of Virginia. Mountain Lake Lodge is a historic hotel resort offering a lot for its guests to do including a swimming pool and restaurant. It is a popular venue for weddings.