Student Life

Mountaintop Experience: Students explore unique venues for outdoor fun

By Ted Allen, March 25, 2021

Liberty University’s Campus Recreation Department invites students to come up for a breath of fresh air — while practicing social distancing in the Great Outdoors — with a short escape to Liberty Mountain, a recreational paradise in their own backyard.
In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just above main campus, spectacular views abound along the 50-plus miles of single- and double-track hiking and mountain bike trails traversing 3,500 acres of the Liberty Mountain Trail System — especially from 1,350-foot summits at the LU Monogram and the Barrick-Falwell Lodge at the Snowflex Centre.
Just a few minutes’ drive from main campus, Liberty’s Hydaway Outdoor Center has become a popular student retreat, featuring an 8-acre lake for swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, or standup paddleboarding. Other warm-weather attractions include a beach and giant water slide. The center also features a high ropes challenge course and zip lines as well as eight campsites with rentals of tents and other camping gear.
Tucked higher up in the woods is one of the premier collegiate gun ranges in the country. Featuring a full-service shotgun facility, a rifle and pistol range, Olympic-style and 3D archery ranges, and a lodge, the new Liberty Mountain Gun Club is home to educational, recreational, and competitive shooting activities. The lodge holds a classroom for safety and certification classes and a dining and lounge area for events. With Wi-Fi access and a beautiful landscape, the lodge has become a popular study spot.
Liberty Mountain is also home to the 380-acre Equestrian Center with more than 50 miles of trails winding around the back of the mountain, where students can participate in group rides by appointment. One of the larger collegiate facilities in the state, the center includes over 70 stalls at the main barn and two other smaller barns, which are connected to an indoor arena, where students can take horseback riding lessons and horsemanship classes.
Next to the Equestrian Center is the university’s Astronomical Observatory featuring a 24-inch DFM Engineering telescope, ideal for stargazing the heavens on clear nights.
Students also have access to two, 20-hole disc golf courses on the mountain, including one near Hydaway that spans more than 3 miles as it meanders along creeks and through the woods. An additional nine-hole pitch-and-putt disc golf course is planned this spring.
Winter extreme sports enthusiasts can take to the mountain’s most visible recreational venue — the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre. The year-round slopes for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing make it the only fully functional facility of its kind in North America. Like many of Liberty Mountain’s offerings, the Snowflex Centre is also open to the public.
The Liberty Mountain Intramural Complex, located at the base of the mountain near the Liberty Indoor Track Complex and Liberty Natatorium, provides ample field space for recreational team sports such as ultimate, softball, and football, as well as four beach volleyball courts.
“Having an expansive mountain property adjacent to Liberty’s campus is a wonderful resource and provides so many opportunities,” said Campus Recreation Executive Director Jamie Swyers. “We are blessed to be able to offer such a wide array of programs and facilities that truly benefit students, faculty, and staff in a holistic way.”
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