The Great Smoky Mountains

May 19, 2023

Written by Katy Ward, Assistant Director of Outdoor Adventure

The semester has come to an end. Some of you are heading home to a far-off state while some of you may be staying local. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park in America! There are several reasons for this and they are all reasons that you should make you want to visit this summer!

It’s easy to get to, the park is within one day’s drive of 2/3 of the nation’s population!
It’s free to visit and always will be!
It has a MASSIVE amount of wildlife and is full of American history!

Now that I’ve convinced you to visit, what can you do there? How do you know where to go for each activity? Well, I have created a list with helpful resources to use when planning different trips to the  Great Smoky Mountains.
As most National Parks do, the GSM Park offers several camping options. From backcountry sites to group front-country sites, you can stay at the park in whatever avenue you desire. You can find all options here.
Open year round, Cades Cove Campground offers plenty of sites. You can reserve yours at . Once you arrive at your … Read More

April is for CAMPING!

April 7, 2023

Written by Mike Ellsworth, Director of Outdoor Recreation

It finally feels like spring!  The weather is getting warmer and the campsite is calling!  At Outdoor Recreation, we want to help everyone get outside. We truly believe that nature can provide a special peace and rest from the day-to-day grinding. It can be an immersive experience that helps you cope with the stress and anxiety that often comes with the college experience. We also know that it can be intimidating for beginners and hard to plan even for the experienced camper. So, we’ve got lots of options to make it easier.
Camp with us
If you are new to camping and don’t know where to go, let us do the planning. Each spring we take a trip to Grayson Highlands State Park. This Virginia State Park provides excellent camping and unforgettable experiences within the Mount Rogers area. Mount Rogers is Virginia’s highest peak and the park provides beautiful mountain trails, waterfalls and “alpine-like” overlooks. The park also contains within its boundaries one of the last remaining herds of wild horses in the nation.
We provide the food, gear, travel and the experiences! All you need to do is show up and we will do the rest. … Read More

Why You Should Play Disc Golf

November 11, 2022

Written by Jake Hilbish, Liberty Mountain Facilities Coordinator

I play disc golf for a lot of reasons. I mean, there are TONS of excuses to get out on one of the three disc golf courses at Liberty University. It’s affordable, it’s fun, and it’s a challenging sport to master. It can be relaxing, help you connect with friends and family, and makes a great tool to network with new people. The community is awesome and is made up of really great people. It can help you get fit, it’s easy to learn, and absolutely anyone can play it. Have I persuaded you yet?
Disc golf is a healthy recreational activity with a low entry barrier. Unlike traditional golf, there are no golf carts on most courses so you walk the whole time. Most courses in the local area are about 5,000-6,000 feet long. If you’re looking to get those steps in, this is a great way to do it. It is also a great way to care for your mental health and find peace. The sport allows me to go into nature and shift my focus away from the daily grind. I have spoken with many other players who feel the same way, … Read More

Virginia Summer Adventures Bucketlist

April 29, 2022

Written by Katy Ward, Assistant Director of Outdoor Adventure

It’s getting to be that time…time to make some summer plans! Lucky for you, we are located in a state absolutely full of adventure – there’s something to suit everyone’s fancy! We believe that everyone is capable of venturing out and trying something new. Hopefully, with the help of this list, you will find something that catches your attention and plan your own trip. Let’s jump in!
Devil’s Marbleyard
This hike is an absolute blast! After a short 1-mile hike, you find yourself at the base of an 8-acre rock scramble. From the bottom, you can’t even see the top peak. What makes this adventure fun is you get to pick how you climb, and if you do not feel like climbing there’s a trail that follows the rocks to the top. This climb is the perfect mixture of rock climbing/bouldering, hiking, and sightseeing. It can be as easy or as technical as you want it to be. There are no set paths; you create your path the whole way up! On the way down, you can choose to climb your way back to the trail, or you can take the parallel trail back down.
A couple … Read More

2021 National Park Adventures

February 18, 2022

Written by Sid Williamson, Hydaway Outdoor Center Manager

During the past year, I have had the privilege of seeing multiple national parks on separate occasions. The first trip was out West back in the spring with one of my friends, Abby. The second trip involved visiting Alaska on a mission trip with my small group leaders. The last trip was spent in the Smokies during Thanksgiving Break with two of my friends. I’ve dreamed of visiting national parks since I was a child, so it was cool to see how the Lord has allowed that desire to come true, especially in this past year. It’s also neat to see how the Lord has provided me with educational development through my job at Hydaway Outdoor Center; I have learned the importance of Leave-No-Trace Principles, which were a large factor in all the national parks I visited. These seven principles include thoroughly planning out your trip, traveling and camping on durable surfaces, properly disposing of waste, leaving what you find, respecting wildlife, minimizing the impacts of campfires, and being mindful of others.
Out West
Abby and I decided on flying into Las Vegas, picking up a rental car, and venturing out to the Grand Canyon for … Read More

Winter Camping is for Everyone

December 2, 2021

Written by Mike Ellsworth, Outdoor Recreation Director

Let’s face it…some of us are not crazy about this cold weather rolling in. We long for the days of beach vacations, river trips, and summertime campfires. But these winter months don’t have to put a damper on your outdoor trips. Some of my most memorable camping trips were cold weather trips. They do require a bit more planning and preparation, but they can create much more rewarding and unique experiences.
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Brush up on your knowledge of hypothermia and frostbite. Being able to catch these injuries early and treat them appropriately will be crucial in you having an enjoyable time camping.
Pack Correctly
Winter camping can be a little more problematic to pack for. Think warm, insulated, quick-drying materials for everything. If you haven’t eliminated cotton from your outdoor wardrobe yet, this is the trip to do it. Think fabrics like wool or polyester — these wick away moisture that will sap heat from your body.
Having a cozy and comfortable “home away from home” will be your lifesaver. Check out the temp rating on your sleeping bag and be sure that your tent is sturdy enough to handle the winter winds. Don’t forget the sleeping … Read More

Hiking & Lake Hopping During the Pandemic

September 24, 2021

Written by Sid Williamson, Hydaway Outdoor Center Manager

Last year, I got the chance to go on several hiking/camping trips with other staff members from the Hydaway Outdoor Center. We did a lot of hikes in the Amherst, Virginia area including Cole Mountain, The Priest (my personal favorite), Spy Rock, and Mount Pleasant. We also did a day trip to the Natural Bridge area where we hiked up the boulder rocks in Devil’s Marbleyard. So, I thought I’d share a little bit about my experience with you to help you plan your next trip!
Bring the Right Gear
When we would go on overnight camping trips, we would checkout gear from the Hydaway Outfitter. There is a detailed list of the equipment students can rent for a weekly, daily, or weekend rate available on the Campus Recreation website. The main items my friends and I would checkout included hiking backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and 2-man or 4-man tents. I recommend taking one of those sizes as opposed to the 6-man tents that are available because they can be very heavy for the person hiking with them in their hiking packs. Even though most of the weight should be felt on a person’s hips, … Read More

Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip

September 2, 2021

Written by Maria Campanella, Assistant Director of Hydaway
Here in Lynchburg, the Blue Ridge Mountains are right in our backyard. For those of you who love to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, this is an extended weekend trip along the Ridge region with ideas of things to do along the way, places to camp, and overlooks that are worth the stop.At this point, everyone knows about the Blue Ridge Parkway and the beauty of it at every time of year. It really is one of the gems of living

Camping Spots
The Peaks of Otter Campground is located at Mile Marker 85.6 along the parkway. They allow tent camping here from the months of May to September, so right around the corner! It is only $20 a night and the campsites have picnic tables, fire rings, and on-site bathrooms. When coming from Bedford, you can follow route 43 to the parkway and the campground is on the left — right before you reach the parkway. You can reserve your spot here.
Sherando Lake Group Camp is another great place in the Blue Ridge Mountains to camp when on the Parkway. It is a bit pricier at $50 a night, but the campsites are bigger, there … Read More

Three Diverse Waterfall Hikes for the Weekend

August 6, 2021

Written by Carter Brackman, Hydaway Outfitter Manager

Do you ever have the itch to get outside, to feel the fresh air flow through your lungs? Virginia is the place that can provide a solution to that problem. Virginia is loaded with hundreds of different hiking trails, from the coast of Virginia Beach to the mountains of Shenandoah.
It is one of our goals to provide a diverse grouping of trips so that every person has the opportunity to experience the outdoors in a positive way — each person is made uniquely by the Creator, and there are certain outdoor activities that may not appeal to everyone. The same can be said of hiking. There are hikes for all different types of people. So, if you’ve been dying to get on a trail but couldn’t figure out which one to pick, we have some recommendations for you!
Saint Mary’s Waterfall
Saint Mary’s Waterfall is one of the most beautiful, well-mapped hikes in Virginia. It is an easy hike with very little elevation gain. The trail is located in Raphine, VA which is about an hour and a half drive from Lynchburg. It makes for a great one-day trip. The trail itself begins just off of Saint Mary … Read More

Meet Your Inner Road Tripper

July 12, 2021

Written by Adam Faber, Hydaway Outfitter Manager

As the school year comes to a close and the campus empties, many of you might be asking, what next? A year hindered by quarantines and hardships of COVID-19, maybe hitting the open road (in a safe way, of course) might be the highlight of your year. If you like exciting new experiences and traveling, then a road trip might be for you. The Hydaway Outdoor Center staff is always willing to lend a helping hand with your trip planning needs, whether it’s a short road trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway or cross country to the beaches of California. 
Choose Your Destination
One of the most important parts of planning a road trip is choosing your destination and the route you want to take. Think about your road-tripping style. Would you rather hop in a car and take the back roads with unplanned or planned pitstops, or do you prefer the detailed itinerary filled with guided tours and new people? Are you interested in hitting historical landmarks, touring California beaches, tasting popular bites in big cities, or are you looking to strap on your hiking shoes and walk through national parks? Everything is up to you, and that is … Read More