Outside photo of building with red roof and a background of trees
May 16 2024

New Giles County Trail Center at Mountain Lake Lodge

New Giles County Trail Center at Mountain Lake Lodge, Gateway to Magnificent Southwest Virginia Outdoors, Opens to Visitors


PEMBROKE, VA (May 7, 2024) – A ribbon-cutting ceremony with stakeholders and regional partners will be held on May 10 to herald the grand opening of The Giles County Trail Center – the gateway to numerous attractions and outdoor experiences across the New River Valley and Southwest Virginia. The region’s best in-class hub, located on the grounds of historic Mountain Lake Lodge and near the Appalachian Trail, will directly connect visitors, hikers and the community to Giles County and 20 miles of trails, natural beauty and cultural activities. In addition, a new four-mile loop trail to Bald Knob will make the highest point in the New River Valley readily accessible to hikers of all skill levels and allow public access to trails.

The nearly 3,000 square-foot Trail Center has been specially designed to help visitors plan their day and discover Giles County’s many attractions and hundreds of miles of trails. It features spacious outdoor decks, interior gathering space, public and ADA restrooms, changing rooms, exhibit areas and public parking. Trail maps, itineraries and brochures, along with videos on multiple oversized screens showcasing the area are available.

According to Giles County Administrator Chris McKlarney, the Trail Center is being dedicated in memory of local leader and Giles County native Mark Collins, an avid hiker and longtime advocate of the project.

“The Giles County Trail Center was designed to be a place where guests can be immersed in the outdoor adventure and amenities found throughout our region,” said McKlarney. “Given the remote nature of this area and tremendous increase in number of day users over the past few years, creating adequate facilities to accommodate this growth was necessary.”

McKlarney pointed to such amenities as the Mountain Lake Wilderness area, UVA Mountain Lake Biological Station, Glen Alton Farm, Wind Rocks, section hiking on the Appalachian Trail, the Cascades Falls, Barney’s Wall, White Rocks Campground, Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory, and the trail system at Mountain Lake including a new trail to Bald Knob, and the trail head at the Trail Center.

“The Giles County Trail Center stands as a remarkable asset for both the New River Valley and broader Southwest Virginia region, fostering connections and educational opportunities for visitors like never before,” said Kim Davis, Executive Director of Friends of Southwest Virginia, which served as the fiscal agent and assisted with project management. “We take pride in the visionary leaders who brought this project to fruition through partnership, and resulting in a state-of-the-art center.”

The Trail Center is a $1.2 million project funded through a 2016 Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant with funding administered by Giles County, Giles County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), Friends of Southwest Virginia, Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

Building Specialists, Inc. (BSI) of the Roanoke Valley transformed an existing structure into the new Trail Center creating stunning timber-framed canopies, an open layout, and a spacious interior public and gathering space. Founded in 1974, BSI is a Class A General Contractor and has spearheaded more than 3,200 construction projects – several in Giles County and at Mountain Lake Lodge – including the historic Grandin Theater. In 2005, BSI was chosen by ABC TV Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to construct a home in Blacksburg, VA.

“It has been an honor to be back working at Mountain Lake Lodge and teaming with Giles County on this project. Turning an existing 30-year-old structure into a modern facility associated with the Appalachian Trail and promoting tourism in Giles County was a thrilling opportunity for Building Specialists,” commented Darrell White, BSI Project Manager.

“The Giles County Trail Center is a centerpiece for the miles of gorgeous hiking trails, scenery and activity-filled days that adventure-lovers come here to enjoy,” said Heidi Stone, president and CEO of Mountain Lake Lodge. “We are excited to welcome visitors for a seamless experience exploring the area’s natural beauty, then relaxing afterwards for casual dining, drinks with friends, and unwinding in a truly magical setting.”

The land and building provided for the project are part of a partnership with Giles County, Mountain Lake Lodge and the property’s owner, the Mary Moody Northen Endowment. Mountain Lake Lodge is where the iconic Dirty Dancing (known as “Kellerman’s Mountain House” in the movie) was filmed 37 years ago, and is still the place “to have the time of your life” mixing modern amenities with eateries, shops, activities and traditional family fun. For reservations, visit https://www.mtnlakelodge.com or call 540-626-7121.

The Giles County Trail Center – located at 2125 Doe Creek Rd., Pembroke, VA 24136 – is open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to dusk. For information, visit VirginiasMtnPlayground.com or contact the Giles County Visitor Center at 540-921-2079.

Outside photo of building with red roof and a background of trees

Amenities, information and inspiration await those who love the great outdoors as the new Giles County Trail Center opens to visitors.

Coverage of the May 10th Ribbon Cutting:

Photos from the May 10th Ribbon Cutting:

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