This 100-mile tour takes you through some of Scott County’s most scenic countryside and provides a glimpse of our treasured spots. The first 12 persons to complete this tour and post selfies on our Instagram page at #scottcountyva will receive a $50 gift card. Feel free to stop at any location and snap a photo. There are 14 marked “Selfie” locations and, to qualify for the $50 gift card, we ask that you stop at eight spots.
The drive takes a minimum of four hours to complete with no stops, but since we are encouraging you to get out, take in the history and view and snap photos, please allow at least six hours for the drive.
SS #1: 50 Years of Love Mural
Start your adventure at the Scott County Courthouse, 202 West Jackson St., Gate City. Before you start, you may want to wander across the street and take a selfie at our “50 Years of Love” mural, located just across the street on the corner of Manville Road and Jackson Street. Set your odometer at 0, and let’s go Northeast on Jackson. At the signal light, turn right onto Kane Street. Proceed to the large intersection (.7 miles) and turn left.
At 1.7 miles, turn left onto Wadlow Gap Road, and then left again at 2 miles onto the Old Bristol Highway. This leads you into the Hiltons Community and the world-famous Carter Family Fold.
Turn left at 6.8 miles onto the A.P. Carter Highway. The Rally Mart on your left is a great place to fill up your car and also your tummy. From 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can grab some great country cooking.
SS#2: Carter Family Fold
Travel another few miles (10) to the historic Carter Family Fold, which is home to the real father of old-time music, A.P. Carter. Memorialized for their contributions to country music by Ken Burns, the Carter Family Fold pays homage to A.P., Sara, and Maybelle Carter who first brought that old-time sound to America through Ralph Peer’s 1926 Bristol Recording Sessions. For almost 50 years, the Carter Family Fold has continued the tradition of the Carter Family with live Saturday night performances of old-time music, acoustic only allowed. (The venue is currently closed due COVID-19, but will re-open when it can do so safely.) http://www.carterfamilyfold.org.
At mile 10.7, you will pass a white farmhouse on the left, which was purchased by Johnny Cash so that he and his wife, June Carter Cash, would have a place to stay when visiting June’s mother, Maybelle Carter, and later playing at the Carter Family Fold. The home has stayed in the Cash family and is frequented by John Carter Cash and other relatives whenever they are visiting the Carter Family Fold.
Continue on the A.P. Carter Highway. At mile 14.6, standing high on the knoll overlooking the Holston River is The Lodge at Crooked River, a premier wedding and event venue. https://www.crookedriverevents.com
SS#3: Mendota Store/Mendota Trailhead
The road parallels the Holston River, a great boating and fishing river. Just after the Lodge at Crooked River, you will enter Washington County and the town of Mendota. At 16.6 miles, the Mendota Store will be your left and the trailhead to the Mendota Bicycle Path will be on your left.
SS#4: Mendota Firetower or Scenic Overlook (No Hiking)
At 16.6 miles, turn left onto Pinnacle Road, which is also Firetower Road. This is a dirt road that is rutted in spots so travel with caution as you wind your way up the mountain road to the Mendota Firetower, which is visible from the bottom. Once you get up into the foliage, the tower will not be visible. At mile 20.2, you will see a small parking lot to the left, with the trail to the firetower across the road to the right. This isn’t an easy trail and will take some time, but a hike to the top is worth the view. If you prefer not to take the hike, travel .4 miles to a nice scenic overlook on the right.
At mile 22.9, Firetower Road ends and turn left onto Moccasin Valley. Turn right onto Little Duck at mile 23.2. Enjoy the ride through the countryside in this farming community outside of Nickelsville. Continue left on Little Duck at 27.2. At mile 28.2, you will see Happy Trails Cottage, one of our local Airbnb rentals. Newly remodeled, this home provides a quite escape.
SS#5: Teddy’s, The Sugar Maple Inn, or Keith Memorial Park
Turn left at 28.6 onto Highway 71, the Nickelsville Highway. Just up the road at 29.4, you will find the town of Nickelsville. There is a Valero station for gasoline. Teddy’s Restaurant is a both a local and traveler’s favorite stop. While everything at Teddy’s is good, the restaurant is known region-wide for its “Gutbuster,” a conglomeration of every ice cream and flavor available.
Take some time and head across the street to Heritage Square, where you will find fresh ground grits, flour and cornmeal, plus homemade granola at Heritage Virginia Mills. Due to COVID, the storefront is closed to visitors, but you can make an order online (https://www.heritagevirginiamills.com) ahead of time and it will be ready for pick up.
Overnight accommodations are available just steps down the road at The Sugar Maple Inn, a century-old landmark that combines charm with modern conveniences.
Keith Memorial Park is a good option for those needing some time out of the car. The park offers a walking trail and playground.
SS#6: Bush Mill
At mile 29.8, turn right onto Twin Springs Road to the bottom where you will find the historic Bush Mill. Feel free to stretch your legs here and walk around the building and grounds. This overshot, water-powered grist mill has been completely restored and is open several times throughout the year. (https://www.explorescottcountyva.org/history/bush-mill/)
For the next seven miles, enjoy the twist and turns of Twin Springs Road, which is part of the Skull Cracker Motorcycle Route. During the winter, this is a great location to look down into the Clinch River valley and to the Clinch River. At mile 37.3 bear right and then turn left at 38.1 onto Sinking Creek Highway. The Black Diamond is a few feet to the right and is another gas stop and a good place to eat.
SS#7: Dungannon Depot or Dungannon Square
Cross over the Clinch River and at the end of the road, turn left onto Veteran’s Memorial Highway (38.6) towards the town of Dungannon, the gateway to the Clinch River and the hiking and scenery of High Knob. (https://www.explorescottcountyva.org/about/dungannon-virginia/). Just outside of town is the Scott County Regional Horse Park, which holds shows the last Saturday of the month from April to October.
Located at miles 44.5 and 45.6 respectively are two older swinging bridges. The Mail Drop Lane bridge is accessed by turning left onto Mail Drop Lane. Drive until the road stops and just across the railroad tracks to the left, you will find one of the oldest swinging bridges in Scott County. Unfortunately, it is now vine and kudzu covered. Just across from Moore Hollow and across the railroad track is another abandoned swinging bridge that today is virtually invisible due to the large amount of foliage covering the bridge.
SS#8: Mann Farms
Down the road at mile 46.7 is Mann Farms, a must stop on your road trip through Scott County. Here you will find locally grown produce from May through October. Mann’s is the primary producer of strawberries in Southwest Virginia and locals and visitors can’t wait for the end of May when Mann’s strawberries appear at this stand and in local Food City markets.
At the next road (46.8) turn right onto the Clinch River Highway (Highway 65). In less than a mile (47.7), is another great place to eat, The Front Porch Store & Deli. This is one of the best stops around for fried whitefish, which is served daily. Gas is also sold, plus hunting and fishing licenses and some unique, country-related related merchandise.
The next turn is at 49.5, which is a right onto Rye Cove Memorial Highway. Rye Cove is the site of the deadliest tornado in Virginia history. Although it is technically classified as a tornado, locals referred to the event as the 1929 Rye Cove Cyclone.
The storm roared up the narrow valley and struck the Rye Cove community at 1 p.m. on May 9, 1929. Directly in its path was a seven-room, two-story schoolhouse. The storm hit just after recess and 150 students and teachers were inside. The wooden building was completed destroyed, killing 12 students, ranging in age from six to 18, plus a 24-year-old teacher, Mary Ava Carter. A memorial to the victims stands beside the current day school, Rye Cove Memorial High School at mile 49.5.
SS#9: Brick Church
Next turn right onto Brick Church Road (55.5), a dirt road that takes you past stone fences. On this road, you will pass Fugate Farms, a century-farm, which during the Civil War reportedly served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. This road is part of the original Fincastle Turnpike, which was one of the routes settlers used to access the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail on their migration to the west. The road is also home to the Brick Church, which was built in 1858 and is one of the few brick churches remaining from that era.
SS#10: Wilderness Road Blockhouse
At the end of Brick Church Road (56.8), you will see the John Anderson Wilderness Road Blockhouse, which is part of the Wilderness Road Historic Area. Housed today at Natural Tunnel, the original Anderson Blockhouse was located in the Carters Valley area of Scott County on the Holston River. The Blockhouse served as the starting point for settlers to make their way into the frontier on the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail into Kentucky. Pioneers would gather at this location until they had enough “guns” to make their trek into Indian territory on their westward migration. Due to COVID-19, the Blockhouse is closed to visitors, but you may walk around the grounds. Normally, it is open May-Oct., Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-2 p.m., with various special events held throughout the year.
Located on the Fincastle Turnpike, past the Blockhouse, is Appalachian Mountain Cabins, a favorite of visitors looking for a peaceful setting, complete with Jacuzzi tubs.
Turn left here onto Bishoptown Road and travel to the bottom. You will pass the entrance to the Natural Tunnel State Park cabins and campgrounds on the left, and to the right is the playground and picnic shelter areas, which are currently open to visitors. At the bottom of the hill, you may access the chairlift to Natural Tunnel by turning left. The chairlift is currently open Fri.-Mon., and it takes visitors down to the mouth of Natural Tunnel.
To continue the tour, turn right (59.2) for approximately four miles. On your right, you will see the Stock Creek Recreational Area, site of the annual Kid’s Fishing Derby and many park programs.
SS#10: LOVEWorks Sign, Daniel Boone Marker or Crooked Road Sign
At mile 63.8, you will come to the town of Duffield. On your right, stands one of the few remaining Daniel Boone markers, a portable LOVEWorks sign and Crooked Road Music Trail site. Across the intersection is Kenny Fannon’s Railroad Museum, which is open by appointment only by calling 276-431-2428. The train depot, which is visible from the road, was used in the film, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
SS#11: ChuBeez or Daniel Boone Wilderness Interpretative Center
Continue straight onto Duff-Patt Highway. Several dining options are available in Duffield, but for local flavor, try ChuBeez on the left. Another great stop in this location is the Daniel Boone Wilderness Road Interpretative Center, located at 371 Technology Trail, (mile 64.4). The center is free and open Fri.-Mon., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The center offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of settlers as they traveled the Wilderness Trail from Sycamore Shoals in Elizabethton, Tennessee to the Cumberland Gap in Kentucky.
Next turn left at 64.7 onto Pattonsville Road. Travel to 68.3 and turn left onto Canton Road. On this road, you will see a “Magical Mystery Tour,” at 72.5 miles. Housed on private property, the carriages and two-story and carvings were created by a local craftsman who was responsible for building many homes in the Duffield community.
At 72.7, turn left onto Sinks Road, then left onto Fairview at 74.9. At the end of Fairview (84.1), turn right onto Highway 23/58. Merge into the left-hand lane to turn left at 84.5 onto the Clinch River Highway (Highway 65).
SS#12: Clinchport Swinging Bridge
At the intersection of Bridge Road and Dewey Avenue is the Clinchport Swinging Bridge, which is open and available to walk across. At mile 85.4 is the Clinchport public boat ramp, a great spot to launch a canoe or kayak.
SS#13: SomeThing Squatchy
Travel another mile (86.2) to SomeThing Squatchy, a campground and local outfitter for the Clinch River. SomeThing Squatchy offers guided raft tours and kayak and tube rentals. Drive down into the parking area and take a photo with Sasquatch.
SS#14: Clinch River
In four miles (90.9) turn right onto Manville Road. This area is also a pull off and provides boat access to the Clinch River. Traveling up Manville Road, look over to your right for a scenic view of the Clinch River and to the left for sweeping vistas of High Knob.
At mile 96, turn right onto Copper Creek and then left at 96.8 back to Manville Road. This area was once home to a local grist mill, Spivey Mill. Continue up and around Manville Road and at mile 101.3, you will arrive back at the Scott County Courthouse and the end of your journey through Scott County, Virginia.
Overnight accommodations are available in Gate City at Robert’s Mill Suites and Estilville Bed & Breakfast and nearby at Boone’s Pointe Cabins. For a pickup after your Scott County Tour, stop in at The Family Bakery on Jackson Street for the world’s best cupcake. Yearning for Mexican, LaCaretta in Weber City, has you covered. For good country cooking, stop in at the Campus Drive-in on Kane Street. For a quick, drive through meal, Pal’s is a great choice. The only fast food restaurant to ever win the coveted Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, Pal’s is best for “Sudden Service.
BEGINNING ALTERNATE ROUTE: If you want to avoid the dirt mountain road, Forest Tower Road, use this route. Start at the Scott County Courthouse and travel straight through downtown on Highway 71 towards Nickelsville. At mile 2.5 on the left-hand side of the road is Mountainview Market (Alternate SS#1). This is a must see stop in Scott County. What appears as a little country market on the side of the road is truly a shopping Mecca. You can buy anything there, from milk to Ariat boots, and the store stocks cute Tees, clothing, handbags and a wide variety of additional merchandise.
Turn left and continue on Highway 71 to mile 6.2.. For a nice detour, turn left onto Snowflake Road, which takes you to Creation Kingdom Zoo (Alternate SS#2). This is one of the Virginia’s premier zoos for breeding and preservation of endangered species. A great stop for the children and those young at heart, please allow two hours to tour the zoo. Once finished, head back out to Highway 71 and turn left and just .4 miles up the road, you will turn right onto Big Moccasin. This beautiful farming valley parallels the Clinch Mountain and offers spectacular scenery with local farms and the Big Moccasin Creek. At mile 15.7, you enter into Russell County and the road becomes Moccasin Valley. Continue to mile 16.4 where you see Little Duck on the left. Here you pick up the original route. You have just bypassed the dirt road and the fire tower.
ALTERNATE END ROUTE: Once you get to Duffield, if you are running short on time, you may want to head back to Gate City via Highway 23/58. If time allows and the Center is open, you are encouraged to stop in and visit the Daniel Boone Wilderness Road Interpretative Center, 317 Technology Drive. Once you get to the intersection of Duff-Patt Highway and Highway 23/58, turn left and head back to Gate City. A great stop on the way back is to take Daniel Boone (10 miles from Duffield, Route 870). This is a right-hand turn from 23/58. On Daniel Boone, travel 3.8 miles to the iconic Hob Nob Drive-in Restaurant (Alternate SS#3). The restaurant currently remains curbside only, and even though you may not be hungry, a milkshake or a small cone of soft-serve custard ice cream is a must. The milkshakes require a spoon to enjoy and are guaranteed to give you a brain freeze or two. Continue on this road for 7.6 miles and you will return to the Scott County Courthouse.
Once you have completed the trail, please post your photos on Instagram and use the hashtags #scottcountyva, #scottvascenicselfie, #loveva, #wanderlove. Shoot me an email to [email protected] and include your name and address. I will mail the first ten road trippers a $50 gift card. Happy Trails.