Located high up in the sky at 1,959 elevation feet, the views from Betsy Bell Wilderness Park are simply amazing. From these great heights you can see unmatched views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and into Waynesboro. Gifted to Virginia as a representation of the past brave souls who fought hard to preserve the state, there’s a feeling like no other that fills Betsy Bell Wilderness Park. Naturally preserved, little of this park has been altered by man, making for a truly authentic adventure in the mountains of Virginia.
In 1941 Charles Catlett gifted this amazing piece of property to the state of Virginia as a place that should forever be preserved for the good of the public. This gift was meant to be a reminder of all of those who fought on Virginia’s soil, oftentimes losing their own lives in the name of furthering the advancement of this historically rich and lovely State. Catlett’s generous gift came with a number of other requests, all of which are still regarded today—including that once every year the City Council comes and visits the site in remembrance of the gift. Catlett also requested that the natural lay of the land remain unspoiled and that the wooden cross that is cut out of the woods be preserved.
Betsey Bell Activities
Besides gasping over the unmatched views visible from every angle, there are a number of other activities to enjoy after making the steep drive up to the top of Betsy Bell Wilderness Park. For starters, all of the sightseeing might leave you hungry, so bring a picnic to enjoy at one of the tables set up throughout the park. In order to secure one of the few picnic tables available, try planning your feast outside of the typical lunch hours.
While the overlook sites offer the best snapshot views, there are winding trails to explore that also offer views out over the land. Runners, hikers, and nature enthusiasts can all unite over this one location, which offers something for everyone—including glimpses at a world of wildlife living in the foliage. Some are even lucky enough to catch sight of the notorious deer herd that lives along the slopes of the mountainside. Bike riders will also get a thrill out of the unimproved terrain throughout the park. While unsuitable for vehicles to travel along, experienced bike riders will find the journey through uncut trails rather exciting.
The Ride Up
Getting to the peak, where the lookout is located, requires some careful driving and a semi-powerful vehicle. The road up is maintained annually but is narrow and experiences patches of loose gravel that can cause unprepared vehicles and drivers a hard time. The hill is also rather steep and long, causing smaller cars or vehicles that have a low clearance difficulty in reaching the top; a four-wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended for worry-free traveling.
Views For Miles
In 1995 another 20 acres was graciously given to the city, allowing this breathtaking park to expand even further. Travel to the top where the views are amazing and regular activities become special adventures to never forget. Bring a bike, some hiking boots, or simply lace up your running sneakers. No matter how you plan to conquer Betsey Bell Park you won’t be disappointed.
To plan your trip and learn more about what this park has to offer, check out the unofficial webpage here.