Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - Click link below to expand
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - click to expand

State Route 311

This route runs primarily through (or rather, across) scenic ridge-and-valley topography. More than 50% of the described route is actually not that twisty, but is scenic. The parts that are twisty are quite good, though, including one very tight section.

Section Covered:
Roanoke, VA to I-64 at VA/WV Border

92km / 56mi

Ratings:   Rankings:
Scenic Impact 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Overall Score: 7.6
Twistiness 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Fun-to-Drive: 7.8
Surface Quality 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  
Traffic 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Rankings and ratings explained

VA-311 does not offer a long twisty road experience -- but what it does offer is very good. Overall this isn't a long route - it is under 100 km / 60 miles, and since most of the route isn't really that twisty, it doesn't take long to do.

Leaving I-81 near Roanoke, VA-311 avoids being too twisty at first, winding pleasantly and scenic-ly through gaps in large southwest-northeast trending ridges. When we did this route, we stopped at the Dragon's Tooth trailhead of the Appalachian trail to [add href ] hike to the tip of the Dragon's Tooth -- a worthwhile 4-hour hike with great views from a pointy spike of rock.

Continuing north from the Dragon's Tooth trailhead, VA-311 continues it's lazy meandering through valley bottoms until it reaches the long unbroken ridge of Potts Mountain -- at which point, the highway needs to get to work!
At the Dragon's Tooth
Beautiful VA-311
Luke on VA-311
VA-311 climbs the southwest aspect of Potts Mountain, following a rising, traversing course with many nice little moderately twisty ins-and-outs. There are also a few nice hairpins, and then more good twisties. There are several good scenic lookouts along this stretch. Pavement quality is excellent, and there is little gravel.

VA-311 reaches the crest of Potts Mountain, then starts a nice twisty descent down the other side.
Luke on VA-311
Luke on VA-311
Climbing Potts Mountain
After crossing a fairly narrow valley, VA-311 makes another ascent, aiming to cross another ridge -- Peters Mountain. The ascent up the southeast face is pleasantly twisty, but over the crest, on the northwest side, things get serious. It is super twisty on this side, rivalling the best twisties of VA-16, but not as long. Still, superb. In fact, when I did this road, we went back and did this section twice! (you'll note that technically, the far side of Peters Mountain is actually in West Virginia, but the road then soon crosses back into Virginia, so it is hardly worth mentioning).

The pavement on this super twisty bit is one notch down in quality from the rest of the road, being slightly rougher and a bit narrower, but still very good.
Beginning of Excellent-ness
Super twisty WV/VA-311
Super twisty WV/VA-311
After finishing the descent off of Peters Mountain, VA-311 returns to a more docile state. However, you are almost done with the highway, and soon you reach Interstate 64. In short, a short route but one that has a good little stretch of twisties. (For the record, please note that the twistiness ranking of this route is entirely based on the twisties on Potts and Peters Mountain). As with most highways in the Virginias, outside of towns, the speed limit is pretty much always 55mph - even in the tight stuff.
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - Click link below to expand
Route Data - VA-311 Drive, Roanoke to I-64
Start Time: 7:23a.m.
End Time: 1:43p.m.
Duration: 6h19m
Distance: 92.62 km (57.55 mi)
Average Speed: 14.7 km/hr (9.1 mph)
Start Elevation: 1186ft (361m) *
Max Elevation: 3468ft (1057m) *
Min Elevation: 1113ft (339m) *
End Elevation: 2361ft (720m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 4832ft (1473m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 3550ft (1082m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph

[ Introduction & Day 1 | Day 2 - Journeying South | Day 3 - Exploring West Virginia | Day 4 - Dragon's Tooth and Yet More Twisties | Day 5 - Final Twisties and Drive Home | Related Presentation: The Dragon's Tooth Hike | Ranked Summary of Twisty Roads | PA-549 | PA-144 | WV-72 | WV-20 | WV-16 & VA-16 | VA-311 | WV-39 & VA-39 | US-250 | US-33 | PA-125 | Road Rankings Explained ]

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