The next good twisty was US-52, which runs roughly north-south and crosses Walker Mountain at Big Walker Gap (hope you've noticed by now that we are often crossing and re-crossing the same "Mountain" on widely-spaced highways - indicative of the fact that these are very, very long ridgelines rather than classic mountains). US-52's ascent up to and down Walker Mountain on either side of the gap consists of a lot of rising, beautifully-paved and signed and lined esses. At the top, there's a little complex with a viewing tower, a lookout, a kitschy general store, and a few other points of interest. We stopped for a little ice cream break and enjoyed the view.
After the twisty descent down from Big Walker Lookout on US-52, we enjoyed a relaxing drive across the wide and open Walker Valley; then another brief stint on interstate (77) back over (or rather under, through a tunnel) Walker Mountain. From there, we began a beautiful farm valley route up the Little Walker Creek Valley - a long, straight valley bordered on the North by Walker Mountain and on the south by Little Walker Mountain. The road wasn't full of tight twisties but it was fun - rolling up and down and around over the gentle undulations of the valley floor. And with most of the land in the valley bottom being cleared or farmed, there was frequently good long-distant views of the valley and its bordering ridge-mountains. And nearly all of it signed at 55, and with very little traffic. A very scenic way to make good progress to the northeast - much better and more enjoyable than interstate.
Roadside Points of Interest
Flat farmland between ridges
Delightful Farm Valley backway
County route 601, Little Walker Valley
Dips and meanders of County 601
Eventually we left the Little Walker Valley, climbing over to the next valley to the east on a superb little twisty through the little gap of Laurel Hollow. Un-lined, and somewhat rough-textured pavement, but again: quiet, fantastically twisty, signed at 55, and little traffic.
Hairpin on VA country 738
Busier as we approach population
Back in rather bland pseudo-suburbs north of I-81, we continued northeast to Blackburg, VA, where we stopped near a campus of Virginia Tech and I introduced Luke to the slightly-upscale wonders of Panera Bread for dinner.
After dinner, it was time for another drive down a beautiful farm valley (really starting to like these Virginia farm valley drives), this time up a valley that was clearly the anticline of a large structural fold of the Appalachian Mountains. On one side, the long ridge of John Creek Mountain and on the other, the long ridge of Sinking Creek Mountain. The route - VA-42 - meandered up the valley bottom (the anticline) up until the valley dead-ended at a curved head, where both ridges met. A creek had cut its way through right at the head, and VA-42 experiences a brief but delightful bit of excellent twisties as it carves through the valley head and winds down to the town of Newcastle, VA.