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In the 1800s, tobacco and cotton farming made Warren County one of the wealthiest areas in the state. Today, a wealth of recreational opportunities continues making the towns on the

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In the 1800s, tobacco and cotton farming made Warren County one of the wealthiest areas in the state. Today, a wealth of recreational opportunities continues making the towns on the

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In the 1800s, tobacco and cotton farming made Warren County one of the wealthiest areas in the state. Today, a wealth of recreational opportunities continues making the towns on the

Explore the Outdoors in Warren County

In the 1800s, tobacco and cotton farming made Warren County one of the wealthiest areas in the state. Today, a wealth of recreational opportunities continues making the towns on the North Carolina/Virginia border a popular destination for those who love spending time outside.

Warren County is an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts who want to go hiking, paddling, horseback riding, or fishing in the morning; spend afternoons shopping for local foods and tasting wines; and spend evenings indulging in dockside dining or strolling the streets of Warrenton’s historic downtown district.

 

Plan a sunrise paddle


Located just 45 minutes from Raleigh, the pristine waters of Lake Gaston and Kerr Lake are popular spots for paddlers. Lake Gaston Outfitters and AF Wake rent paddle boards and tandem or solo kayaks so you can explore 20,000-acre Lake Gaston or take in the views of the 800 miles of shoreline on Kerr Lake while the sun comes up in the morning sky.



 

Make a splash

For a faster-paced marine adventure, rent a personal water craft or wake, ski, pontoon, or fishing boat from top spots at Lake Gaston like Eaton Ferry Marina, Lake Gaston Summer Rentals, Lake Gaston Jet Ski & Powersports, and Stonehouse Timber Lodge, as well as Steele Creek Marina at Kerr Lake. Lake Gaston and Kerr Lake are well-stocked with game fish such as striped bass, largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish, if you prefer to book a charter through Blues Brothers Guide Service or Twisted Creek Outfitters for a day of fishing in Warren County. Fishing licenses from either Virginia or North Carolina are valid on both lakes.

 

Hit the trails

The nature trail at Buck Spring Park passes stands of majestic swamp white oak, loblolly pines, and shortleaf pines on the way to an overlook that offers views of the original Buck Spring, but for a little more action, hit the mountain biking trail. Kerr Lake State Recreation Area also offers family friendly hiking trails. Follow the 1.5-mile Kerr Lake Track Trail to explore the hardwood and pine forests along the shores of Kerr Lake.

The mountain biking trail at Buck Spring Park. photograph by Warren County EDC

Sleep under the stars

Eight distinct campsites — offering hundreds of spots to park an RV or pitch a tent — surround Kerr Lake, a 50,000-acre reservoir that stretches from North Carolina to Virginia. Reserve a spot and spend the night exploring the trails, wading in the clear waters, and singing campfire songs.

 

Soak up the sun

Grab an umbrella and sunscreen and spread a towel in the sand at one of the beaches in Kerr Lake State Recreation Area. You can frolic in the water or just lie back and watch the clouds roll past. On Main Southern Eatery in downtown Warrenton offers all of the makings for a Southern picnic; order fried chicken, baked mac ’n’ cheese, collards, and braised cabbage to take with you.

 

Dine on the dock

Your day on the water doesn’t have to end at dinner. The Pointe at Lake Gaston and WatersView offer amazing views of Lake Gaston and a range of tasty seafood dishes, such as surf and turf, crab cakes, scallops, shrimp, and more. In the evenings, listen to live music as the water laps against the shoreline.

 

Savor the flavor

Warren County retains its rich agricultural history. On Saturday mornings between April and October, local growers set up tables in downtown Warrenton at the farmers market and at farm stands throughout the county to sell locally grown produce, meat, eggs, cut flowers, and artisan foods. Seasonal offerings include pick-your-own grapes at Kim’s Vineyard and Winery.

The Warren County Farmers Market. photograph by Warren County EDC

Step back in time

Buck Spring Plantation was the home place of Nathaniel Macon, a senator and speaker of the House of Representatives. Walk along the nature trails, ride the 4-mile mountain bike trail, and view the buildings. The original 1781 house has been reconstructed; a smokehouse, corncrib, caretaker cabin, and family and slave gravesites are also located on the historic property.

 

Stroll through town

Warrenton was established in 1779, and the beautiful (and walkable) downtown is home to stunning antebellum and colonial architecture, with more than 50 buildings making up the historic district. Stop into quilt and antiques shops before ordering a glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade from the old-fashioned soda fountain at Friends Two, or a cup of iced coffee from Drip. Later, grab a bite at Hardware Café, a historic hardware store turned restaurant serving sandwiches, salads, and delicious desserts; or at Robinson Ferry to enjoy Southern food and spirits with a twist. Learn more about the history that shaped Warrenton on a self-guided walking tour.

This story was published on Jun 19, 2020

Jodi Helmer

Jodi Helmer

North Carolina-based journalist Jodi Helmer writes about food, farming, and the environment.