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Carvin’s Cove Natural Reserve by Craig Simonds

        Carvin’s Cove Natural Reserve is a municipal park near Roanoke.  Carvin’s Cove is less than eight miles from downtown Roanoke, and it is directly off of 1-81 so it is a convenient drive for those that live in the area.  The area that it covers is massive, and there are a wide variety of activities in which people can participate.            One of the most impressive facts about Carvin’s Cove is simply its size.  Carvin’s Cove is, in total, 12,700 acres making it the second largest municipal park in the country. Even more impressive, is that 11,363 acres of the area are protected by a conservation easement, which is the largest in Virginia’s history (www.roanokeoutside.com).  This was a two-part process, with 6,185 acres being placed under easement in 2008 and the rest, consisting of 5,178 acres, being placed under easement in 2009.  The land itself is owned by the City of Roanoke, but the easement is co-held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and the Western Virginia Land Trust (www.roaonkeoutside.com).            With all of this land, Carvin’s Cove has a lot of space for a variety of outdoor activities.  There are more than 60 miles of trails, which can be used for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.  The trails at Carvin’s Cove are beautiful and extensive.  These trails are considered to be the premiere mountain biking locations in the Roanoke Valley.  With so many miles of trails, you have a real choice in the type of mountain biking in which you want to participate.  There are many low-lying, flat sections of trails, as well as a variety of steep inclines and descents.  There is also a seven-mile fire road around it.            Carvin’s Cove borders about 14 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and can be viewed from McAfee’s Knob.  It is important to note that people cannot swim or camp on the property.  The park is open from 6:30 AM to 9:30 PM with a 2$ day pass (20$ annually).  It is also one of the largest water suppliers to Roanoke and Botetourt.             There is an 800-acre lake, which can be used for boating.  The lake is limited to 10 horsepower boats.  People that wish to rent boats from Carvin’s Cove can chose from a variety of row boats, two or four person paddleboats, and kayaks.  Specific information can be found on the website.  Not only is Carvin’s Cove a great place to ride around in a boat, but it is also a very popular place to fish in the Roanoke Valley.  One can fish off of boats, off the docks, or along the bank of the reservoir.             Beyond Carvin’s Cove impressive statistics, it is simply a beautiful place to visit.  The 800-acre reservoir is a crescent shape that is wonderful to view from above.  When you look at the water, you see reflections of the trees lining the bank and the mountains that line the horizon.  The trails are well kept, and one can view a variety of wildlife and plant life.  Like many other places in Virginia, the beauty does not diminish in any season; there are sights to appreciate year round in Carvin’s Cove.             Carvin’s Cove is a great place to go with friends or family.  The number of activities that are available to people visiting cannot be overstated.  In truth, it is worth the drive to simply get a look at the reservoir and meander around on a trail.