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Category: Adventures

So you’re social distancing…

April 8, 2020

Written by Katy Ward


You have probably found that you have a lot more time on your hands then normal and may be getting a bit bored. The outdoors is a fantastic place to both social distance yourself and spend all that newfound time. Here are a couple of hikes that can be done on the Liberty Mountain Trail System. There are 50 square miles of trails to hike, of all different challenges. Choose the hike that best suits your goals for your afternoon, whatever they may be!


A Nice, Leisurely Stroll

If you are looking for something that you can do at your own pace and does not have much of an elevation change, there is a beautiful loop close to the Hydaway facility.

  • Begin following Falwell Rd. and walk about ¼ of a mile.
  • Turn right onto Raccoon Alley and hike its entirety
  • Once you reach the end of Raccoon Alley, you should be at Great Escape
  • Take a right onto Great Escape and walk until you reach Falwell Rd again.
  • Congratulations! You just completed a 2-mile loop!

A Brisk Trek

Interested in getting out for a little while, with a slight challenge? This hike will take your breath away with the beautiful creek that flows through and with the elevation changes.

  • Start at the Disc Golf Parking lot (the gravel lot on the left that is just before Hydaway’s gates) and travel down Lake Hydaway Rd.
  • Follow Lake Hydaway Rd. for about 0.5 miles and turn left onto Trail Too Far.
  • Trail Too Far is a beautiful trail that will take you over some bridges along a small stream and then a steady uphill climb to the towards Chaldlers Mountain Rd.  This will total up to be about 1.5 miles.
  • Once at the top, you will take a right back onto Lake Hydaway Rd. and follow that mountain road for 2.3 miles until you are back at the gravel lot where you started.
  • On only two trails you just completed almost 4.5 miles!

A Long, Diverse Journey

Looking for something that will take a couple of hours? Something that will give you lots to see and plenty of challenging climbs? This 9-mile hike takes you around the entire trail system and has plenty of good views.

  • Embark on the Hydaway end of Falwell Rd and follow until you see our campsites.
  • Once at the campsites, head right to find Great Escape. You will be on Great Escape for 2.5 miles.
  • When you reach the end of Great Escape, you will take a right onto Clearcut Rd. but only follow that for a very short time until you see A Walk in the Park on your left.
  • Turn left onto A Walk in the Park and hike that trail for 2 miles.
  • You should now have reached Dead End Alley, take a right and walk a short bit until you hit Flames Rd.
  • Turn left onto Flames Rd. This will take you up and down some fun hills and you will follow this road for 1.5 miles.
  • Flames Rd. turns into Monogram Rd. which will provide a beautiful view of Lynchburg and Liberty’s campus. Finishing out Monogram is 1 mile.
  • Once you have completed Monogram, you will be at the Snowflex facility. The little parking lot at the bottom of Snowflex is where you will turn left to find the gravel trail which is Falwell Rd.
  • Simply go around the gate and start the final leg of your journey.
  • Hike out Falwell Rd. until you are back at Hydaway.
  • You just achieved 9 miles for the day!

Create Your Own Hike!

Our trail map is available online for download, or you can pick up a copy at any trail kiosk. There are many too many trails to mention in one sitting, so get creative and explore what the Liberty Mountain Trail System has to offer! Find something that fits your needs, whether that is a relaxing walk or an intense uphill burn, our trail system can work for you.

Adventure is…

March 13, 2020

Written by Luke Whitmire


It is incredible to read and listen to the stories of outdoor adventurers that have been pushing the boundaries over the recent years. Names such as Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, and Colin O’Brady have become household names through their daring adventures and accomplishments in the outdoors. Why do their stories matter to us? Many of us will never accomplish what these professionals have, so what can we learn from them besides a cool story?

One of our values here at Outdoor Recreation is adventure. Adventure is a very vague word and can be used to describe everything from a daring new type of activity to a late-night run to Walmart with your friends, so let’s dig deeper into the word. Our department defines our adventure value by striving to use exciting undertakings to intentionally explore the people and places that surround us.

“We strive to use exciting undertakings to intentionally explore the people and places that surround us.”
-Outdoor Recreation Core Values-

It is important to recognize that this means that adventure is subjective to each person and will vary based on a person’s comfort levels. We see this often throughout our daily lives here at Outdoor Recreation. A great example is our zipline and high ropes course. Our zipline here gets many different reactions from many different people. To the experienced zipliner, our setup may not seem the most exciting, adventurous thing out there, and that’s okay. However, to someone who is afraid of heights and is uncomfortable with being suspended in the air, it can be extremely terrifying and adventurous! It is important to recognize that both of these experiences are valid and acceptable. If you are comfortable with it, seek something else out at a higher level that will be challenging for you! However, we must always remember not to look down on others based on what they are comfortable doing. We must always seek to challenge ourselves, whatever level we are at. The important thing is not the level activity you are doing, such as a calm paddle down the James River versus level four rapids, but the fact that you are seeking to challenge yourself and grow through adversity.


Adventure can teach you very important things. In order to challenge yourself and combat your fears, it requires self-discipline, to force yourself to continue through the fear and adversity. It requires the ability to set goals and persevere to follow through on those goals. These lessons can be applied in all areas of our lives. The area you want to challenge yourself in may not even be in the outdoors and it may not even be something you are afraid of! Maybe you want to be more consistent in exercising or maybe you want to read more. Whatever your goals may be, the self-discipline and goal accomplishing mindset that can be learned in the outdoors is applicable to you no matter where you go in life!That’s why we should pay attention to things like Collin O’Brady’s crossing of the Antarctic or Alex Honnold’s free solo climb of El Capitan.

What’s your El Capitan? What’s something that sounds absolutely crazy, yet is attainable through hard work and a willingness to push yourself? The best way to grow, both in the outdoors and in your everyday life, is to seek out adventure and to be uncomfortable. So, face that fear, go on that new trip, and seek out adventure every chance you get. Get uncomfortable.

Unexpected Joy | Caving

February 17, 2020

Written by Katy Ward

Have you ever unexpectedly found a new passion? Something that you had no idea existed but once you discovered it, you fell in love? I have.


In February 2018, Liberty University Outdoor Recreation facilitated its first caving trip. I had the privilege of being one of these initial participants to embark on this new adventure. When I first heard about the trip, it instantly caught my attention. I had been Free Climbing for a couple of years before and the thought of trying a new aspect of climbing (caving), piqued my interest. I was nervous for sure, did not really know what to expect, but was along for the ride nonetheless.


We pulled into this little gravel lot in the middle of nowhere Virginia, an empty field on one side and a small patch of woods on the other. It was here, where we meet our James River Grotto guides. They walk us through the process of getting geared up; helmets, headlamps, knee pads, dry bags, and snacks are necessities for the trip. We then walk down a small winding path to the cave entrance, to a literal hole in the ground. It’s at this point that I think to myself, “What did I get myself into?”


As we shimmy ourselves through this hole, the only light comes down on us from the entrance of the cave. We sit in the darkness for a few minutes to let our eyes and ears fully adjust to our surroundings. There is barely a sound, just the slight pattering from the rain drops outside. Then, we turn our headlamps on and find a massive room full of rock formations, large cracks and crevasses along the walls.  As my eyes adjusted, I found it all one color, an earthy brown, but all sorts of shades. I never thought the muddy brown of rock could look so beautiful.


Our guide take us through the cave, knowing the way from past explorations. We crawl and climb carefully through the muddy insides of the cave to a larger bedroom sized space nicknamed, the “Junction Room”.  This area offers multiple options of where to go next. One group goes up, spidering their way across two steep rock faces, another climbs down to a river that flows through the cave, and the rest of us stay to explore the “Junction Room” itself.


Off to one side, we found a section called “The Maze”. You have to hoist yourself up 8 feet onto a rock shelf, where you crawl down to find yourself walking through these captivating rock pillars.  We do not go too deep into the maze because it would be very easy to get lost without the ability to navigate the passageways.


After all meeting back in the “Junction Room”, our time in the cave is closing in and we are all amazed that four hours have passed. As we exit, crawling through the same hole in the ground, we find snow peacefully falling instead of rain and we all feel a little more at ease. The invigorating attitude of accomplishment from trying something new, beginning to wash over us.


This trip lit a spark in me. I fell in love with every aspect of caving. Each time I enter a cave, even if I have been there before, it looks different. There are new features to take in, sounds to hear, and open opportunities to explore God’s creation on a whole new level.


My first trip caving is a memory that I will always hold close to my heart and I hope that through Outdoor Recreation’s caving trips, others will be able to experience the same feelings.

Spring 2020 Trip Preview

January 13, 2020

Written by Tim Lewis


It’s the New Year and the spring semester is upon us! What’s on your adventure bucket list this year? We hope that you will find your niche on one of our diverse outdoor experiences listed below. Here at Outdoor Rec, we are passionate about connecting people to outdoor spaces while being mindful of stewardship and safety. We also love to cater to all ability and experience levels from complete beginners to seasoned enthusiasts. Our commitment to experimental education allows us to truly develop future outdoor enthusiasts and professionals.

This year we are excited to open all registrations on the first day of school, January 13th. We hope this will promote early registrations and allow participants to plan ahead and prepare for their adventures with us. Remember this semester to stop by one of our promo tables or the outfitter at Hydaway and ask us how we can meet your needs. We have a plethora of local outdoor advice, gear rentals, and ways to connect with Outdoor Recreation.

We hope to see you out there!

1/23 + 1/30 + 2/8 | Ski and Snowboard

Be sure to take advantage of our 3 Wintergreen Resort dates this semester! We will spend 2 Thursday nights (1/23 + 1/30) and 1 full day (2/8) up at the resort enjoying the powder. Snowflex will offer optional rentals and lessons before the trip and Outdoor Rec will provide transportation and snacks. Thursday nights: $25 + $5 rentals. Full day Saturday: $35 + $5 rentals.

2/22 | Caving

For this trip we will be exploring Crossroads Cave in Bath County, VA! The James River Grotto will lead us into the underground labyrinth of the cave and show us a new way to adventure. We will provide headlights, food, and transportation. All you need to bring is your sense of adventure and a change of clothes. Transportation, lunch, and instruction for only $10!

2/22 | Mountain Biking

We will be heading to Falling Creek Park in Bedford, VA for a fun day of mountain biking on trails and testing your skills on their obstacle course! This beautiful park offers a plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities and is a great location for both beginner and experienced bikers. Transportation, lunch, and instruction for only $10!

3/15-21 | SPRING BREAK

This year we will be traveling to Florida for a multi-day river camping trip along the Suwannee River! We will begin at Suwannee River State Park and paddle over 5 days to Troy Springs State Park, a total of 45 miles! We will stop each night at a new river camp or park and enjoy campfires, good times, and delicious food. We will be tent camping most nights on platforms and group sites along the river. We plan to have one full rest day in Lafayette Blue Springs State Park to swim/snorkel in the springs, hike, bike, as well as relax in the park. Hot showers and bathrooms will be available most nights along the river. We hope you will join us for this awesome adventure! Transportation, meals, gear, and instruction for only $250!

3/28 | Horseback Riding
Every semester we enjoy a trip to Reba Farm Inn & Saddle Soar in Bedford, VA. This privately owned farm offers students a unique chance to ride rescued and rehabilitated horses in a beautiful mountain setting. This unique Western riding experience also allows for a chance to run your horse and learn confidence in leading your horse on the trail. Transportation, lunch, and instruction for only $25!

3/28 | Sunrise Hike

Be the first to see the sunrise from beautiful Cole Mountain! This trip features a short hike to an open mountain meadow where eastern and western views can be observed. Transportation, breakfast, and instruction for only $10!

4/3-4 | Whitewater Rafting
Spring is New River season in West Virginia! Alpine Ministries provides us with expert instruction and facilitation down the Class III-V rapids and provides us with a delicious lunch and devotional on the river bank. Spots fill up quickly, so be sure to secure your spot as soon as possible! Transportation, breakfast/lunch, and instruction provided for only $60!

4/4 | Fly Fishing

Come enjoy a full day of professionally guided fly fishing on the Piney River at Rivenridge LodgeAngler’s Lane hosts LU each semester at this pristine lodge and teaches us how to cast, select the right flies, and catch beautiful native trout. This trip got me started in the sport years ago and it can for you as well. Transportation, lunch, and instruction for only $25!

4/8 | Moonlight Horseback Riding

We love it when we get to visit Reba Farm Inn & Saddle Soar twice in one semester! This time we are going at night to enjoy the full moon. Come enjoy a cool spring night ride followed by a bonfire and refreshments at the foot of the Peaks of Otter. Transportation, refreshments, and instruction for only $25!

4/18 + 4/25 | Kayaking

We are a river loving crew at Outdoor Rec! This classic paddle will take us to the Upper James River where we will paddle 6 miles from Buchanan to Arcadia. This classic trip features several Class I-II rapids and mountain views. Transportation, lunch, and instruction for only $10!

4/18 | Rock Climbing

This is the first year we have done an all-day rock climbing trip! This trip will take us to Wintergreen Mountain where we will sport climb with Urban Mountain Adventures! Transportation, lunch, and instruction for only $25!

4/24-26 | Spring Camping

There are few spots as beautiful as Grayson Highlands State Park! We will spend the weekend hiking Mount Rogers (VA’s highest point) and biking along the Virginia Creeper Trail. This trip boasts impressive Virginia scenery and wildlife all within 4 hours of Lynchburg. Transportation, meals, gear, and instruction for only $60!

5/2 | Senior Tubing

Graduating this May? Come out and enjoy a relaxing float trip down the Upper James River to wash away the stress of exams. We will certainly welcome all classmen levels on the river, though favor the seniors first for this trip! Transportation, lunch, and instruction for only $10!













Spend more time in nature

January 10, 2020

Written by Mike Ellsworth


New Year’s can be a wonderful time full of resolutions and goals.  Sadly, most of these attempts for personal betterment go unfulfilled.  Why does this so often happen?  Well, for me, it is because I am trying to do something in my life that I don’t like to do, to make an aspect of my life more positive.  For example, I want to sleep better at night, so I want to enforce a bedtime with no screens after a certain hour.  But, what often happens is that I want to stay up late to binge watch Big Bang Theory again…  So, I miss out on the opportunity for betterment.  I am trying to get positive effects with seemingly negative action.  What if you were able to seek positive effects with a positive action?

Well, I’ve got one for you.  Set up a New Year’s resolution right now to spend more time outdoors.  Being outside is fun, relaxing and great way to create new experiences for yourself.  I’ve been doing a lot of research lately and there are several studies out there proving that a simple positive action (15 minute hike through your wooded neighborhood) can create some amazingly positive effects in your life.

For hundreds of years, the outdoor enthusiast has known about these benefits.  People often use positive phrases like “it helps me de-stress or feel better”, “it really encourages me”, or “helps me to disconnect and clear my head” to describe their natural experiences.  More and more academic research is verifying those statements!  There is continual research being done that reinforces the idea that spending time in nature can be helpful in treating symptoms such as anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia and depression.

As little as 20 minutes spent in nature has been shown to help in the following areas:

Anxiety and Stress

The Great Outdoors Lab is a collaborative effort to demonstrate that nature can have clinical uses in the treatment of anxiety and stress disorders.  “We hope to make public lands part of a common healthcare prescription,” says Sierra Club Outdoors director Stacy Bare.  Stacy is an Iraq War veteran who has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The research alliance has been working with military groups to show how spending extended time in nature can help inspire awe and are trying to increase our understanding of how nature deeply affects our emotional and mental state.

Yuma University research Yoshifumi also is one of the scientists that has been working on studying the effects that nature can have to decrease stress levels.  His research has shown that just a 15 minute walk in the woods decreases cortisol (primary stress hormone) 16%, drops blood pressure 2% and lowers your heart rate 4%!  I can’t think of any over-the-counter medication with those kind of instant results.  It is no wonder that nature therapy is being used more and more as treatment and preventative medicine to help patients to unwind and process stressful experiences.

Insomnia and other Sleep Problems

There are several reasons why we struggle to get enough zzz’s on a nightly basis.  Whether your root is too much caffeine, excess amounts of screen time or struggles with anxiety; a simple trip into nature may act as a helpful cure.  These triggers all act against our circadian rhythm, or internal clock.  This makes it far more difficult for us to fall asleep, so we end up staring at the ceiling while our head sits on the pillow.

I don’t know about you, but when I go camping and we are sitting around the campfire telling stories and making jokes, eventually someone will stand up, rub their eyes and say “well…it’s getting late, I’m gunna head to bed”.  Then someone else unexpectedly looks up from their watch and exclaims that it is only 9:30pm!  Usually everyone laughs and it leads into another long conversation about the great nights of sleep we get while camping.

The data backs this up.  Even just a few nights in the woods, away from unnatural light, can set your internal clock back several hours.  Getting you right back into sync with the rising and the setting sun.  Your body begins to release melatonin naturally to help you slip into more restful nights.

Provides Opportunity for Positive Encouragement and Self-Reflection

It is no secret that the Japanese culture is into self-reflection and finding methods to seek peace in their lives.  We have all heard of Zen gardens, various meditation practices and different martial arts techniques focused on self-awareness and inner peace.  But the Japanese government has spent a lot of resources in a new path towards peace.  “Forest Bathing” or “shinrin-yoku” has been a regular practice in Japan for years.  It is becoming more and more popular. It is said that it “has the power to counter illnesses including cancer, strokes, gastric ulcers, depression, anxiety and stress.”  The Japanese government is so fully invested in these studies that they devoted 62 forests across Japan and are maintained and accredited by government entities.

As Christians, we understand that God created the heavens and the earth.  When we revel in his creation, we revel in his glory.  When we are comforted by nature, we are being comforted by Him.  I often think of this while I hike and spend time outdoors.  Whether it is the rushing of a West Virginia river, the smell of fresh rain or the pleasing bark from my dog as he rolls in the grass.  These are gifts that the Lord provides for me to enjoy, to help me know that I am loved, valued and cared for.  I also feel the awe of his might and power as I look up the trunk of an oak tree that has been standing for hundreds of years.  I feel that Christ-focused forest meditation points us to God and scripture is full of individuals seeking wilderness for rest and guidance, including Jesus himself.

So, how to do it?  That is important.  We can’t just expect to grab our keys, wallet and head outdoors.  You will get out what you put into your outdoor experiences.

  1. Be Proactive and plan time for nature
    At Outdoor Rec, we view adventure as an intentional exploration of the nature around us.  A beneficial outdoor experience requires planning and most important, intentionality.  As you head out on your next walk on Liberty Mountain, think about what you are doing, why you are doing it and be sure that you plan ahead and prepare to make the experience enjoyable.
  2. Truly disconnect from your technology
    Don’t just put in your headphones and turn on Spotify!  Turn your phone OFF.  Trust me, you can go off-grid for 90 minutes.  This is what truly helps with anxiety and stress.  It is a feeling of pure peace.  Knowing that no notification (app or human) is able to intrude on this time.  This should be a place for you and your thoughts.  Even music has a tendency to interfere with that.  There is a time and place for music and community.  But, there is also a time and place for silence and solitude.
  3. Use your senses
    Use all 5 senses as you walk.  Look at all the rocks, tree bark, leaves and plants.  Listen for the rustle of a squirrel or chirp of a bird.  Smell fragrances of nature and taste the fresh air.  Touch the trees and feel the grass with your toes.  Too often we only engage a few of our senses and miss out on unique moments of discovery.
  4. Tell your friends and share your experiences
    Share the joy.  Christians are built for community.  We should share our experiences with others.  Allow them their input and encourage others to participate.  Research new ways that you can experience nature and the wilderness that is all around us.

This semester, we are offering a new type of event.  On the first Monday of every month, our staff will meet up at Snowflex for a regular hike.  This hike will be focused on wellness.  They may include some materials for reflection, silent moments for prayer or just a time to get away and unwind during the week.  These “Wellness through Wilderness” hikes are a great opportunity for those who feel tired, alone or burned out.  Come visit with us, we want to encourage wellness in your life.

If you want to learn more about how spending time in nature is beneficial to your mental and physical health, be sure to read “The Nature Fix” by Florence Williams.  I am planning on reading it this month and it comes highly recommended.


Other Sources

Want to fix your sleep schedule? Go camping this weekend | Rachel Feltman

Getting back to nature: how forest bathing can make us feel better | Harriet Sherwood

Wilderness: The New Treatment for PTSD | Annette McGivney

Outdoor Activities for every Enneagram type

November 6, 2019

Written by Maria Campanella

As I’m sure anyone who attends Liberty University has noticed, the Enneagram is a constant topic of discussion. For those of you that don’t know, it is a set of nine personality types and meant to help people understand themselves and others better. The Enneagram Institute has far more information on each type, the correlation between all the types, and how to determine what number you are. It can be beneficial in relationships, the workplace, and to know yourself better to help you grow as a person.

The outdoors are more appealing to some types rather than others, but I feel that the Outdoor Recreation department has something to offer every enneagram type. Hopefully this will give you a better idea of what we do as a department and how you can utilize what we have available.


Type One – Ones have a very strong sense of right and wrong and strive for perfection. The Reformers are known for wanting to change the world, and they have goals and visions for how to make a difference. They are wise and discerning and, at their best, know what is best in every situation. Ones often like to have an escape and a way to “blow off steam” which is why I think that our trail races and trail running in general would be a beneficial thing for them to utilize at Hydaway. We have two races left this semester, the Valley View 5-miler and the Reindeer Run. We’ve also got two races set for the spring semester!

Type Two – Twos are the most generous and kind people you will meet. They are warm-hearted and driven to please others and love the people around them. They are titled The Helper because of their constant desire to help and love others. That being said, Hydaway can be a great escape and every two I have asked said that they just enjoy relaxing in and being in the presence of the outdoors, so the beach and lake would be a perfect relaxing escape for a two to soak in to the moment.

Type Three – Known as The Achiever, threes are competitively driven, and goal oriented.  They desire to impress others and to be admired. They are self-motivated and good at encouraging others. I think that threes have the potential to really enjoy our challenge course. The challenge course is very goal oriented and is a whole team activity. This would be a great time for a three to help encourage and motivate others on their team or in their workplace to do their best and achieve their goals as well.

Type Four – Type fours are individualistic, creative, and sensitive. They are known as The Individualist and like to have an identity different from everyone else. Fours appreciate beauty and their surroundings and tend to enjoy time to themselves to be alone with their emotions so Fours would really like our kayaks or paddleboards which provide time to themselves in nature and beauty – especially this time of year as nature begins to quiet. It gives a great opportunity to enjoy their surrounding and have time to think.


Type Five – The type five loves to learn. They are perceptive and innovative which is why they are titled The Investigator. The main desire of the five is to be competent and to be knowledgeable on useful things. Something that the investigator could definitely enjoy and find useful through our department is the NOLS Wilderness First Responder course. It happens every other spring semester, so it will be taking place this spring! It is a useful course that will provide you with an extreme amount of knowledge – learn more about what the course will teach you.



Type Six – The Loyalist; six’s are security oriented and stability craving. They are very trustworthy and loyal friends. They are worrisome and suspicious, so they crave reassurance and support. This tends to be found in people, once a six trusts and draws close to someone, they don’t let go easily. Sixes thrive in situations with people closest to them, so camping at Hydaway would be a fun way for them to relax and enjoy the company of those around them. They can also plan and prepare before they go, taking away worries they may have. If you are interested in renting a campsite, you can call the Outfitter (434-592-6284) to reserve a site.


Type Seven – Sevens are known for being outgoing, optimistic, and spontaneous. They enjoy trying new things and experiencing new activities and are commonly referred to as The Enthusiast. This is why one of our many trips would be something that a type seven would enjoy. We have a variety of off-site trips that go out each semester – caving, horseback riding, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, fly fishing, white water rafting, and overnight camping. There are many experiences to choose from and they could have the opportunity to meet new people as well.


Type Eight – At their best, The Challengers have great, “go get ‘em” attitudes. They are passionate and take initiative on making important things happen. They have the power to effect change and gain followers in all they do. They can command attention and prompt people to feel what they are feeling. Something new to the Outdoor Recreation department is the Outdoor Club. This is an experience and opportunity for eights to make a change and affect the environment in a positive way and gives them leadership opportunities.  If you would be interested in helping us get the Outdoor Club going at Liberty, send us an email at outdoorrecreation@liberty.edu!


Type Nine – The Nine, also known as The Peacemaker, are easy-going, laid back, and supportive. They tend to see the positive side of things and all sides to each story. They have a calming presence and are go-with-the-flow kinds of people. As a Nine myself, I find that hammocking is my favorite thing to do at Hydaway. It is a peaceful and calming activity that pulls together those aspects of my personality and makes me feel at peace. Fellow nines, I would advise you try it!

Of course, this is general and will not be completely accurate for every person, but either way, Hydaway has so much to offer for people to enjoy. The Outdoor Recreation department strives to engage with all of the community by providing diverse experiences for everyone!  We hope to see you soon!


6 ways to get outside in November

November 1, 2019

Written by Joe Frey

November is here and fall is in full swing.  At outdoor recreation we are enjoying the beautiful display God’s creation has given us these past few days.  The vibrant colors that the trees are showing off, and the cool crisp morning air that goes perfectly with a hot cup of coffee.  However, there is one downside that I have noticed with November rolling in and that is the decreased number of people in the outdoors.  Now don’t get me wrong, plenty of people still make sure to get their fall pictures taken for their Instagram, but it is clear the decrease in people getting outside at this point in autumn.  The fall is one of the perfect times to enjoy the outdoors in Virginia, the cooler weather allows you to be active without overheating, and nature is displaying its true colors.  With this being said, here are six ways all of us keep your activities rolling through November!

  • Visit Hydaway Outdoor Recreation Center! Now clearly this one had to make the list, but it really is a great resource to get outside and enjoy fall.  The facility is open until Nov 22nd, as is the 50+ miles of trail system on Liberty Mountain.  We will be hosting our fishing derby and we have stocked our lake with hundreds of rainbow trout!  Also coming up we do have the Mike Donahue 5 Miler trail race on Nov. 9th.  For more information on Hydaway visit our website!
  • Biking. In Lynchburg alone we have so many great biking locations.  Downtown there is the Blackwater Creek trail which is 3 miles of paved trails built along an abandoned railway.   To read more about the Blackwater creek trail and other trail connecting to it visit Lynchburg Parks and Rec website!  If you are into mountain biking, then there are some great opportunities for you right off LU campuls.  The trail system on Liberty Mountain hosts an abundance of trails that were built specifically for mountain bikes some of which include rock beds, jumps, banks, and more.  If you want to try something new you can also visit the Bedford bike park at Falling Creek which is completely free open dawn to dusk.

  • Hiking. As many of you know our area hosts some of the best hikes in Virginia.  In my personal opinion hiking to an overlook on a clear day to see all the colors the trees have to offer is one of the best.  Our “Hike Safe” campaign is all about promoting safe hiking while enjoying some great trails!  One of the hikes we feature is Spy Rock.  This  beautiful hike is within an hour from campus and is a comfortable 3.1 miles out and back.  This is a beautiful hike within the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest.
  • Drive the Parkway. While this might not scream outdoors it is truly a great way to appreciate the Blue Ridge Mountains during fall.  The parkway has plenty of access points and lookouts where you can pull of to enjoy views of the valleys surrounding it or access to great hikes as well.
  • Visit Local Parks/Monuments. Visiting local parks and monuments is a great activity in the fall.  Once school is back in session these places attract a lot less tourists, even on the weekends.  Near us is the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.  Everyone should go and experience this memorial as it documents such an important moment from our nation’s history.  Make sure to call ahead and schedule a tour guide as well so you get the full experience.
  • Camping. In my personal opinion this is one of the best times of year to get out and do some camping.  It’s not too hot that you can’t sleep at night and it not too cold where you are freezing.  One of my favorite places to camp this time of year is Cole Mountain.  It is a hilltop meadow offer great view of the surrounding valleys.  You can camp at the bottom of the hike or go all the way to the top and on the other side you will see some firepits campers set up.

While I could go on and on about the great opportunities there are to experience this fall, there are too many to count.  This time of year doesn’t last long so I encourage everyone to take advantage of it while it’s here!

Fall Break Recap

October 18, 2019

Written by Elijah Stanley

Liberty University Outdoor Recreation’s fall break whitewater kayaking trip was a perfect blend of tranquil, fireside mornings and intense whitewater action on the New River.


To kickoff this amazing weekend, we drove through the meandering mountaintops of the Appalachians leading us to the beautiful Babcock State Park.  Thursday night, we pitched up camp, started a fire and enjoyed the cooling mountain air as we roasted marshmellows.  On Friday, after our morning coffee and bacon, the group was in for a special afternoon in the heart of the park. Paddling lessons on Boley Lake led into a relaxing lunch and leisure time among the new fall colors. Friday evening was filled with more s’mores and excitement considering the extreme whitewater that was awaiting us the following morning.

Whitewater kayaking is no “walk in the park”. This electrifying sport can be one of the most enjoyable ways to spend a weekend in the great outdoors. A majority of the group had never experienced the rush of weaving through a class III rapid. With that said, LU Outdoor Recreation prides itself in giving new outdoor experiences to all participants, no matter their skill level. Wave after wave of class II and III rapids kept the group’s adrenaline levels high while the lunch break helped with our morale. Although kayaking is enjoyable, it is tiring as well. Saturday night was full of exceptional food and much needed rest.

Sunday’s sun rose per usual and our trip was unfortunately coming to an end. The famous New River Gorge Overlook was our final stop. While taking our last-minute pictures of the river cutting through the steep, tree-covered hills, it was clear that there is no better place than the New River Gorge for a camping and kayaking combo.


Outdoor Recreation offers an extensive list of trips and excursions similar to this one. Don’t miss out on the next!

Fall is for Fishing

October 10, 2019

Written by Luke Whitmire

Fall is here, and it’s our last chance to soak up the warm weather before the cold arrives! One great way to get out and enjoy the changing seasons is to go out and do some fishing!  Central Virginia has some great opportunities to go after many different species of fish! If you’re into bass fishing, grab a canoe and head to the James! The James River provides great opportunities for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. If you’re really hardcore, grab the biggest streamer you can find, throw some salt over your shoulder, and go hunting for some muskies! Always be sure to pick up your fishing license when heading to public waters, this is a great way to support conservation and save yourself from some trouble, if you happen to see a game warden.


Another great spot for canoe and kayak fishing is to located at Clemmons Lake in Ivy Creek Park. They stocked over four-hundred pounds of trout and catfish last November and you can catch and keep up to four catfish or trout a day, so whether you’re a spin fisherman or a fly fishermen, head on over and try to catch some dinner! If you’re a fly fisherman looking for trout streams, take a drive and head out to some public streams. Due to lower water levels in the late summer, try to adjust your tactics to the conditions. Consider using a lighter tippet and being even more careful on your approach to the stream to combat the easily spooked fish. If you’re looking for more tips, or needing to stock up on some lures, stop by our friends at Angler’s Lane or Taletellers Fly Shop and get their tips and favorite lures for fishing this time of year!


Another great way to go after some trout this fall is to come to the Fishing Derby at Hydaway on Saturday, November 2nd. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout just prior to the derby, and you can catch and keep up to five trout! Food will be provided, and awards and prizes will be given to the anglers with the most total inches, highest average overall, and the largest fish.

Angler’s Lane will be there to help us run the event and provide tips or answer any questions you may have! If you’re an experienced fisherman, come out and show us how it’s done! If you are new to fishing, this is a great way to meet some new prospective fishing buddies! Fishing is a great way of bringing people together, and there is no better way to learn than under the wing of an experienced fishermen. No matter how much knowledge I have learned from watching videos and reading articles, some of the best tips I’ve ever gotten was going out with some of my friends who knew what they were doing!


Click here to register and always feel free to call or email us with any questions. We’d love to see you there!

AORE Campus Challenge

September 17, 2019

Written by Katy Ward

Have you ever thought to yourself: “I would like to spend more time outdoors, but I don’t know where to start?” Well now is the perfect opportunity to try some new things and find your niche in the outdoors!  Liberty University Outdoor Recreation is participating in the AORE Campus Challenge, and we want to help you get active outside.

What is the Campus Challenge?
The AORE Campus Challenge is a “March-Madness-meets-Mother Nature” competition in which 98 universities compete to see who can get the most people outside.

Sounds cool!  How do I get involved?
We tried to make it all clear and easy on our website.  First, you need to download the Campus Challenge app and create an account. When creating your account, make sure to select Liberty University as your sponsor school so the hours get logged into our group.  Second, log all of your outdoor activities on the app.  The contest runs September 16 until October 13.

What kind of activities can I log?
Almost any activity outside can be logged! Kayaking, hammocking, running, caving, hiking, gardening, skateboarding/longboarding, and many other activities can be logged for points towards Campus Challenge. All activities must be participated in for a minimum of 30 minutes and you can log up to 5 activities per day.

Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! Anyone and everyone is invited and encouraged to participate. Even your parents and your parents’ friends can join in the fun. Our goal is to get as many people outside as possible, our focus is the Liberty community, but all are welcome. Plus, you get bonus points if you log a group activity!

Where can I participate in these activities?
As long as you are outside, it does not matter where you complete them. Around Liberty, you have lots of options! There’s Hydaway, where you can hike, bike, hammock, swim, kayak, paddleboard, play volleyball, and much more. We also offer outdoor adventure trips through Outdoor Recreation, such as white-water rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, fly fishing, and other options. Even with those options, there are plenty of opportunities around Lynchburg for these activities to take place.

Are you looking for a trip to take this weekend and log some activity?  How about a short little overnight out to the Peaks of Otter Campground?  This campground is located close to Sharp Top and Flat Top, two of the most popular hikes around Lynchburg, and there is also a lake nearby the facility, providing even more opportunities for activities to log. An overnight camping trip to Peaks of Otter Campground could go a little something like this:

3:00pm – Leave after class, head for campground
4:00pm – Get to campground and set up camp.  Explore the campground for a little while, go bird-watching or look for wildlife.
6:30pm – Hike Sharp Top and watch the sunset from the peak.
8:00pm – Get back to campsite and start a fire, roast some marshmallows and play some card games
10:00pm – Quiet hours start, so find a cozy place to look at the stars for awhile
11:00pm – Retire to tents for a great night’s sleep

8:00am – Get up, start a little fire, cook breakfast, and drink some strong coffee to start the day
9:00am – Check out Abbot Lake for a couple hours. Play some games, chill in a hammock, go fishing.
1:00pm – Go for a bike ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway
3:00pm – Clean up camp and get ready to head out.
6:00om– Back to LU for dinner with friends.

This trip alone will give you the opportunity to log 37 points on Friday and 42 points on Saturday, that could be 79 points, per person!   We would love it if you would participate with us and help encourage everyone to get outside and learn new things!