Chartered in 1806, Giles County was formed from parts of Montgomery, Tazewell and Monroe Counties. With a population of about 17,000 and covering 363 square miles, Giles County offers a relaxed small-town atmosphere for its residents and visitors. Located in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia, Giles County boasts almost 100 square miles of Jefferson National Forest, 50 miles of Appalachian Trail, and 37 miles of the New River which flows through the heart of the county.
Every visitor to Giles County is quickly aware of the New River which bisects the county for 37 miles from Glen Lyn in the west to Pembroke in the east. As well as being recognized as one of the oldest rivers in the world and one of the few rivers to flow north, the New River is regarded as one of the top smallmouth fishing rivers in the country. Many of Virginia’s current record holders of several freshwater game fish were caught in the New River and the large variety will appeal to any fisherman. The river, as well as numerous creeks and streams can provide many hours of pleasure for fishing, canoeing and kayaking, or just resting along their banks. Riverfest celebrates the river each summer in a day-long festival.
The beauty of Giles County can be seen on a float down the river or a drive along the roadways, but much of its charm is best reached by foot. Seven birding trails designated by the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail are located here and the county is home to many cache sites for geocaching. The Appalachian Trial offers hiking for both those with only a day to hike and for the more adventurous who plan to hike for several days or weeks. The 94.2 miles of Jefferson National Forest also offers varied opportunities to experience the beauty of nature. The beautiful 69-foot Cascade Falls can be reached by a two-mile hike along Little Stony Creek. Dismal Falls features a 40-foot wide cascade with a 12-foot drop and is easily accessible with a short hike. The falls on Mill Creek near the Town of Narrows are a true hidden treasure and are worth the effort to see.
Year-round mountain biking is available along the 20 miles of fern-lined trails on the Mountain Lake Conservancy. The Conservancy manages 2,600 acres of mountainous terrain that encompasses a very unique ecosystem due to an average elevation of over 4,000 feet. There, visitors will also find the charming Mountain Lake Hotel and Resort where the movie “Dirty Dancing” was filmed. Families have found Mountain Lake to be a great vacation destination for over 150 years. Other overnight accommodations can be found in award winning bed and breakfasts and lovely water side cabins and cottages.
Giles County offers cultural experences for every taste. History comes alive at the Andrew Johnston House and Museum in Pearisburg. This early 1800’s home and the adjoining museum offer exhibits from that time period as well as the largest collection of Meissen in the area. The research facility located on the property houses documents of interest to Giles County historians and genealogist. Music is prominently featured at the Giles County Fiddler’s Convention in May and the Henry Reed Memorial Fiddler’s Convention in June. There are also music jams and shows featured weekly at Anna’s Restaurant in Narrows, Old Virginia Smokehouse in Pearisburg, and The Palisades Restaurant in Eggleston. Other festivals and fairs occur throughout the year in various parts of the county, including the Newport Agricultural Fair, the oldest such fair in Virginia.
The Giles Arts and Adventure Trial is part of the Artisan Trails of Southwest Virginia. Independent artisans offer unique crafts varying from award winning blown glass sculptures and paintings, delicate bead work and miniatures to handcrafted heirloom furniture and homemade banjos. The Trail is rounded out by alpaca farms, u-pick blueberry farms, and locally-made Amish goods. Other art venues include large-scale murals the courthouse and throughout downtown areas and at the Narrows Gift Shop and Art Gallery.