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Discover Virginia's Goshen Pass and Maury River

While we stayed at the Sugar Tree Inn, a bed and breakfast just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, we were curious to explore Goshen Pass, as it was the name of our room. When we expressed interest, our innkeepers quickly pulled out a map and offered directions.

We traveled down Virginia Highway 56 through the tiny community of Vesuvius. At U.S. Highway 11 in Steele's Tavern, we made a left and then a quick right onto State Road 606. Along the way, we drove by Cyrus McCormick's historic site (with a promise to return), under busy Interstate 81 and wound our way through the quaint village of Raphine. We ambled past rolling hills, farms, cows, sheep and a lone groundhog. At Buffalo Springs Herb Farm (NOW CLOSED), we stopped to explore their different gardens: heirloom, medieval, celestial, Mediterranean, fragrance, medicinal, kitchen and thyme and took a quick peek at neighboring Wade's Mill.

Back in the car, we headed westward to historic Brownsburg, where we stopped briefly to take photos of its flag-lined street. At Highway 39, we began to follow the Maury River, which is located entirely within Rockbridge County. Here, the terrain began to change. The sound of the river was inviting, so we soon pulled over to take photos. Fortunately, we found a footpath to the water's edge. The river seemed low because of the large number of exposed boulders, but it remained forceful none-the-less.

As we drove toward the pass, the road began to climb and within a brief period of time, we discovered why. Goshen Pass is a 3.7-mile long gorge that was created millions of years ago by the Maury River. The vista is breathtaking. While trout fishing is popular, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries explains that high water occurs during cold months, making the Maury River quite popular among whitewater canoeists and kayakers. Beware though, Devil's Kitchen at Goshen Pass offers 100-yards of Class IV rapids.

Back down Highway 39, we stopped in Rockbridge Baths to walk across the Maury River on a Virginia Department of Transportation swinging bridge. Here, two water enthusiasts prepared to put in their canoes for a journey down the Maury, while a Soggy Bottom Boys recording played "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow." They were headed to the Alone Mills Road takeout, as they claimed this stretch of the river is one of the Top 10 in Virginia. A little post-trip research showed this water trip includes Class II and III rapids and cliff views.

Time for lunch and then back to Sugar Tree Inn for a little rocking on the porch and a nap.

55 Kennedy-Wade's Mill
Raphine, VA 24472
(800) 290-1400

Highway 56
Steeles Tavern, VA 24476
(800) 377-2197

Photos: Goshen Pass and Cyrus McCormick - ©Flying Compass, Inc. All rights reserved.