The landmark Sand Mountain has taken on an additional identity, with free camping, hiking and biking.
Sand mountain is visible from anywhere in Wytheville, rising 3,721 feet against the south end of town. Its ridges seem protective, like a snuggling mother animal. Now, with the town’s development of 1,800-acre Crystal Springs Recreation Area, hikers and mountain bikers have a new, scenic way to explore the mountain’s flanks and summit.
The 180-degree view from High Rocks cliffs is one of the best around. Not only Big Walker Mountain and the purpling ridges toward West Virginia, but the whole town is visible, spread out in all the detail of a model train diorama. Black vultures swirl above the valley riding thermals from their roost in the cliffs.
The 4.5-mile trail to High Rocks is the most recent of the 13 miles of easy to moderate trails Wytheville has blazed on old reservoir property. Partnering with Wythe-Bland and Blue Ridge Parkway foundations, the town also developed a series of short interactive trails with brochures and signage featuring critters and flora in the area. Kids are encouraged to borrow TrackSacks of field guides, magnifying glasses and other tools of identification at the town recreation center. Visitors can log on to the Kids in Parks website, register, answer a few questions about their visit and receive prizes.
Three picnic areas, two pit toilets, five primitive campsites, and a two-foot waterfall are scattered along the trail up Venrick’s Run. Camping is free, but campers should register by calling the Wytheville Recreation Center at 276-223-3378.