Distance: ~3.5 miles each way
Park at the White Rock Gap parking area at mile 18.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you are coming from Charlottesville, it will be on your right.
Take the White Rock Trail, which is to the right of the information board (if you are facing it), and marked with orange blazes. It is almost all downhill to the lake, so be prepared to climb on your way back!
There’s a nice camping spot just off the trail at mile .6 and another one just after the one mile mark (the second one is well below the trail and on the other side of the creek.)
The (relatively) gentle grade and smooth trail make this a popular spot for mountain bikers.
After you pass the upper lake (which you’ll be able to see through the trees to your right), the trail dead ends at what looks like a jeep trail. Stay to the left and follow the trail out to the paved campground road. Turn right and follow the paved road through the campground and down to Sherando Lake.
There are water fountains and restrooms, so you can fill up your bottles and change out of your wet bathing suit before the hike back up to your car.
There is also a camp store with limited supplies and VERY limited hours (12 pm-4 pm Wednesday-Sunday during peak season.)
If this isn’t challenging enough, check out the HikingUpward website for a 9.1 mile loop hike.
Of course, you could just drive to the lake and hike around on the trails while you’re there.
From Charlottesville, take 64 West to Exit 96. After exiting, turn left and continue (about ten miles) until you see the park entrance on your right.
A day use fee is charged at the gate (or collected in a self-pay box, if nobody is at the gate)