An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

July 30, 2011

Lake Sherando

During the heat wave last week, my son and I escaped to the relative coolness of the Blue Ridge Mountains for a long weekend of camping. I say relative because even though it was hot by mountain standards, in the low to mid 90’s, over the ridges in the Piedmont and down in Tidewater thermometers were cracking the 100 degree mark. The fact we were camping by the cool waters of Lake Sherando and could take dips on an as needed basis, also helped us to tolerate the high temperatures.

Sherando Lake (8)

Sherando Lake (19)

Sherando Lake (25)

Lake Sherando is a nestled in the folds of the George Washington National Forest just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The fact that it is easy to get to, not too far from civilization and has a sandy swimming beach; make Sherando a very popular spot for daytrips as well as overnight camping. The early morning hours were quiet, but by mid-day the beach was in full use, with the surrounding mountains echoing the sounds of people having a good time. Though it is not a place for hardcore wilderness adventure, it is a great place to introduce children to the camping experience; in fact it was the first place I took my son camping.

Sherando Lake (5)

Sherando Lake (9)

Sherando Lake (13)

Sherando Lake (17)

First opening in 1936, the Civilian Conservation Corp created Lake Sherando and its facilities during The Great Depression. The bathhouse and visitor center are original and were constructed of local stone and timber and fit in with the setting perfectly. Being a federal property, this place belongs to all Americans and in my mind is money well spent. I hope the short sighted slash and burn mentality currently in vogue by many in Washington never compromises our ability to enjoy this little jewel, or any of our other national treasures.

Sherando Lake (7)

Sherando Lake (24)

Sherando Lake (21)

Sherando Lake (6)

Sherando Lake (23)


  1. Good golly, Les. That first photo is absolutely stunning.

  2. Each photo makes Lake Sherando even more inviting. I love it when the water is as still as can be and has the mirror like reflections.
    think we need some new CCC projects, we need to think to the future.

  3. i'm with kelly. good golly! lake sherando looks spectacular through your lens. im so happy we have these sorts of natural places to enjoy.

  4. I'm with Kelly. That first photo is breathtaking.

  5. Those are some truly incredible photos! I wish I was there!

  6. Excellent series, especially the reflections in the glassy lake surface. I agree with you about the need to protect our natural resources from the fools inside the beltway. We're a bit south of Sherando, surrounded by the Jefferson National Forest, but the scenery is very similar. It's a huge change from Virginia Beach, my home for a good bit of the second half of the last century.

  7. John the Delivery DriverJuly 30, 2011 9:03 PM

    Les allow me to join in the chorus of praise for your first photograph. Ansel Adams lookout! By the way, Happy Birthday.

  8. Les,
    Never heard of this lovely place! I have been in the forest there many times, I'll have to look into going there to camp. The photos are outstanding, KUDOs.

  9. Your photography is extraordinary Les. You have such a good eye for light, and the technical skill to capture it all. I am blown away by these images of trees, light and water.

  10. Your beautiful photography can even make Sherando inviting! I agree that in the stillness of the morning it is stunning. Not so much once all the people arrive. It doesn't hold a candle to the Eastern Shore, where you can still get "lost"...away from the crowds:)

  11. Who says you don't go to church?

    Les, the reflective photos are so pure they seem like paintings. I see an Earl Swift type column from this, complete with photos. Best work yet. Congrats.

  12. Oh my word ... how beautiful is Lake Sherando? It looks wonderfully cool and peaceful - and your photographs are spectacular! I think you should hide them or everybody and his auntie will be flocking to Lake Sherando and it will no longer be a peaceful hideaway!

  13. Kelly,
    Thank you!

    I am with you on new CCC projects. Do you think there are enough motivated politicians and young strong backs willing to make it happen?

    I draw strength from such places.


    Thank you for the comment and for stopping by.

    It may take you a little longer to get there than it did me.

    I love it anytime, anywhere I can get to the mountains.

    Thank you for taking the time to stop by. I hope all is well in my absence.

    If you are in to easy camping, it is a great place.

    The eye came genetically and the technical skill is often accidental.

    I take it you have been to Sherando on a crowded weekend? It was not my first choice for camping, but my son wanted to go, and at his age I feel lucky he still wants to do such things with his father. So I easily agreed to the locale.

    Funny you should say that, for several it was worship. Saturday morning among all the frolicing, several people were baptised in the lake.

    Thank you so very much. Maybe I can write up something more like a travel piece and you can proffer it to the paper.

    They have been flocking there for decades, I just got up early enough to beat most of them to the water.


  14. It may have been hot by mountain standards but sure looks cool and serene and comfortable if you judge by your pictures. That first one took my breath away.

  15. Shangri-La! I've never experienced camping but now I want to!

  16. Amazing shots that make it look cool even if it isn't!

  17. Would you PLEASE stop posting such gorgeous pictures of your neat trips? You're pissing me off. Especialy pics of water--it's a bajillion degrees here and hasn't rained for over 3 weeks now. I hope I can be like you if / when I have a child, and that my child might want to go on such trips.

  18. What a fabulous vacation! I went and got a rag to dust off my screen to admire that first photo. Absolutely perfect. I feel cooler looking at it. It actually got into the 100's even in Maine but now we're back to the 70s. Good to have you back.

  19. Les, What a great series of photos this is! The mirror smooth surface of the water makes the first shot just stunning. I also like the Lifeguard shot too. The ending with the light through the trees is perfect.

  20. Where is my sleeping Bag? I am ready to go....

  21. Photos of lakes and reflections and light streaming through forests have been done endlessly before, but your series here is enchanting and truly sensuous.

    I could feel the heat, and sense the coolness of the water, and my heart rate stilled as I looked at the trees reflected in the lake. These are beautiful shots.

  22. Well, your photographs should help preserve Lake Sherando. Lovely reflections and thoughtful photos.