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The Granary at Meadow Lane Lodge Photo by Kami Swingle and courtesy ofNatural Retreats
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The Steinway Room in the main lodge Photo by Andrea Hubble and courtesy ofNatural Retreats
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Fly-fishing on the Jackson River Photo by Brennan Wesley and courtesy ofNatural Retreats
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Pontooning on Lake Moomaw Photo by Brennan Wesley and courtesy ofNatural Retreats
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Claw-foot tub in the Granary Photo by Andrea Hubble and courtesy of NaturalRetreats
Tucked into Virginia's Allegheny Highlands and surrounded by the George Washington National Forest, Natural Retreats' Meadow Lane Lodge and Cottages feels like it's a world away from Richmond, even though it's just a three-hour drive.
Located on a 1,400-acre Bath County estate enveloped in lush forest and fields of wildflowers, the rustic lodge has five bedrooms with private bathrooms, and there are rental cottages and homes nestled throughout the property with river and mountain views. (A two-night stay in early spring for two people at Meadow Lane starts at about $250, and a group of six can stay in a cottage for two nights for around $520.) For families that don't want to leave the dog behind, some of the cottages are even pet-friendly.
Founded in England in 2006, Natural Retreats has operated in the United States for about four years from a base in Charlottesville. The group includes locations in North Carolina, Alaska, New Mexico and Idaho, as well as England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and the Canary Islands.
The property boasts natural springs, ponds and river access, as well as 15 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. Families can enjoy the swimming pool, tennis court and a barnyard with goats, donkeys and horses that they can feed throughout the day.
Meadow Lane is also a short drive from both Hot Springs, site of the picturesque Homestead Resort, shops and restaurants, and Warm Springs, where you'll find the Jefferson Pools, considered to be the country's oldest spa structures.
March through June is peak season for fly-fishing, and guests at Meadow Lane ( naturalretreats.com/us/meadow-lane-virginia ) have access to the Jackson River through Natural Retreats Outfitters. Enjoy casting your line in their private 2.5 miles of river stocked with brown, rainbow and steelhead trout.
Head out to the river in the early morning and spend four to five hours with a pro angler, who will give you a casting lesson and teach you the basics of the rod and reel. After your lesson, cast your line and see what you can reel in. Guided tours are $225 for a half-day for two, and $275 for a full day for two.
For mountain biking, Natural Retreats can take you on a guided adventure along the ridgeline of Warm Springs Mountain Preserve to the top of Flag Rock ($160 for two people). The seven-mile bike ride on easy terrain has some uphill pedaling and eventually ends at a pavilion at the Flag Rock Overlook, where you will enjoy a gourmet picnic and 360-degree views — Lexington to the east and West Virginia to the west.
The Algonquin tribe named this mountain range Allegheny, which means "endless." Guided hikes along this trail are $140 for two and include a gourmet lunch. For water sports enthusiasts, the Jackson River and Lake Moomaw offer plenty of water to play in. Natural Retreats Outfitters can take you on a two-, three- or five-hour guided canoe or kayak tour of the Lower Jackson, 10 miles below Lake Moomaw's Garthright Dam ($95 per person). Kayak rentals are $55, and tandem kayaks and canoes are $85. Lake Moomaw offers 2,500 acres of boating, canoeing, waterskiing and fishing, and for the camper, overnight tent plots at Bolar Mountain Recreation Area (look up campgrounds at discoverbath.com ).
For lunch, try The Homestead's Casino Club Restaurant in Hot Springs, and sit on the terrace in front of the hotel ( thehomestead.com ). The Casino Club's menu features sandwiches, soups and salads and fresh-caught trout. If you are looking to pack a picnic to bring along on an outdoor adventure, head to the Milk House Market at Warm Springs' Old Dairy Community Center ( scenic39.com ) to take out soups, sandwiches, gourmet cheeses, desserts and wine. The Waterwheel Restaurant at The Inn at Gristmill Square in Warm Springs ( gristmillsquare.com ) is open daily for dinner and on Sundays for brunch. Offerings include broiled Allegheny mountain trout, pan-seared salmon, rack of lamb and filet mignon with mushrooms. Arrive at The Waterwheel early for spirits at the Simon Kenton Pub, the restaurant's tiny rustic cavern that originally was the mill's office.
After a long day of mountain and river activities, unwind at The Jefferson Pools ( thehomestead.com/pools-and-hot-springs ) in Warm Springs by soaking in clear, 98-degree waters housed in two separate structures for men and women. The bathhouses are considered the oldest spa structures in the nation, and were believed by the Algonquin tribe to have healing powers. Thomas Jefferson even visited the Gentlemen's Pool House in 1818 to ease his rheumatism. Beware, though, shy bathers: These pools are bathing suit-optional. If pampering is more your style, head to the Warm Spirit Spa ( 839-6600) for hot stone massage, aromatherapy, Reiki, kobido (Japanese facial massage), reflexology and kripalu yoga classes.
Off Route 220, halfway between Warm Springs and Hot Springs, is Garth Newel Music Center ( garthnewel.org ), housed in a rustic barn with great acoustics. The Garth Newel Piano Quartet plays classical, jazz and blues throughout the year. Garth Newel also hosts the Virginia Blues and Jazz Festival for two days in June on the side of Warm Springs Mountain.