I recently stumbled on Smith Mountain Lake Community Park in Franklin County, Virginia. Let me tell you, it’s a gem.
My original plan was to explore more hiking trails at Smith Mountain Lake State Park. Unfortunately, the state park was closed for a managed deer hunt.
So, I drove 35 minutes to the other side of the lake to the community park, which is home to three scenic hiking trails with water views.
An easy 2.0-mile hike takes you around the perimeter of this 37-acre community park, which sits at the back of the Montego Bay neighborhood.
|Elevation Gain||79 feet|
|Terrain||Mostly dirt trails|
|Driving Directions||Click Here|
There are easy-going nature trails at Smith Mountain Lake Community Park that reward visitors with beautiful lake and mountain views.
The three trails are the North Shore Trail, South Shore Trail and Picnic Point Trail. There are no blazes, but the trails are well-maintained and easy to follow.
As you enter the park, I recommend that you drive past the swimming beach, all the way to the last parking lot, which is adjacent to a children’s playground.
At the back of the lot you’ll see the trailhead and a gravel trail that leads down to a handicap accessible fishing pier on the lake and a picnic shelter.
Before you reach the pier, you’ll see the start of the South Shore Trail (on the left) and the North Shore Trail (on the right).
South Shore Trail
I suggest beginning on the South Shore Trail, which more closely follows the lake. From the start, you’ll be steps from gently-lapping Smith Mountain Lake.
As you continue on, you’ll have opportunities to walk out onto a sandy beach in some places along this nature trail.
At the 0.2-mile mark, you can veer right to continue on the South Shore Trail, which meanders along the edge of the peninsula for another 0.6-miles.
However, I think you won’t want to miss the Picnic Point Trail, so stay left at the fork to walk amongst deciduous trees and coastal pines to Picnic Point.
Picnic Point Trail
At the 0.4-mile mark, you’ll reach a fork in the trail. It’s a loop, so you can go in either direction. I opted to go left for a clockwise loop at Picnic Point.
At the tip, there is a picnic table with views across Smith Mountain Lake. I was there in late afternoon and the shimmering lake was breathtaking.
Bring a bag lunch or a snack, then sit and stay awhile to savor the views. When you’re ready, continue walking. Close the loop at the 0.6-mile mark.
Turn left to get back on the South Shore Trail. You’ll pass a second picnic table at the 0.8 mile mark, then you’ll arrive at the seasonal community beach.
The sandy park beach is open daily from late-May through early-August, then on weekends from early-August through early-September.
Entry to the park is free, but there is a charge of $3 per person (ages 3+) to swim at the beach. Beach access is only allowed when lifeguards are on duty.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach, though dogs are welcome at all other sections of the community park.
Walk around the perimeter of the beach. You’ll pass a bench and a kayak or canoe launch, then reach the end of the trail at the 1.3-mile mark.
North Shore Trail
Cross over the main park road (Park Way Avenue) to connect with the North Shore Trail on the other side.
The North Shore Trail is more forested and you are unable to walk out to the shoreline like you can on the South Shore Trail.
A relaxing bench with north-facing views across the lake turns up alongside the trail at the 1.6-mile mark.
Along the North Shore Trail, look for signs naming trees, including the Eastern white pine, black oak, Eastern hemlock and Virginia pine.
This trail ends at the 1.9-mile mark. From here, you can either turn right to walk up the gravel path to the parking lot or turn left for the fishing pier.
If you opt to turn right, your hike ends at the 2.0-mile mark. In the parking lot, there also restrooms and porta-potties.
Accessible Fishing Pier
The 150-foot-long fishing pier is beautiful. As you walk to the end, you’ll note four benches that are covered, then two picnic tables at the end of the pier.
Among the fish you may catch in Smith Mountain Lake are largemouth and smallmouth bass, striped bass, bluegill, crappie, carp and yellow perch.
It’s also a lovely spot to take in views across the lake, including Picnic Point, which is just west of the partially covered handicap accessible fishing pier.
Adjacent to the pier is Dillon Shelter, a covered picnic shelter with four picnic tables, a grill and a trash can.
This 2.0-mile hike took me less than one hour, including time spent savoring views across Smith Mountain Lake, one of the state’s largest freshwater lakes.
Smith Mountain Lake Community Park is managed by Franklin County Parks & Recreation. The address is 1482 Park Way Avenue in Moneta, Virginia.
This family oriented community park opened in June 2007. It’s a wonderful destination for hiking, beach-going and enjoying family recreation.
This park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. The beach is open seasonally to visitors from 10 am to 6 pm.
Alcoholic beverages are not permitted at Smith Mountain Lake Community Park. There are also no boat, tube or float rentals at this park.