Spearhead Trails Announces Inaugural Big Moccasin Jeep Poker Run

$500 Cash Prize

Big Moccasin LogoSpearhead Trails recently announced the inaugural Big Moccasin Poker Run with a $500 Grand Prize for the best hand, according to Brandon Napier, program manager, Spearhead Trails. Co-sponsored by the Town of Gate City and Scott County Tourism, the Poker Run will take place Sat., Oct. 5, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and offers riders a 61-mile run through the countryside and the opportunity to visit some of the county’s most iconic tourism destinations.

Entry fee is $20 per jeep for one hand, with the opportunity to purchase additional poker hands for $10 each.  At the end of the race, participants may discard any chip and purchase an additional chip for $5.  The first 150 registrants will receive a commemorative hat and car tag.

Pre-registration is not required, but all participants to meet in the Gate City Downtown Farmer’s Market Parking Lot on Water Street at 9 a.m.  The Big Moccasin Jeep Poker Run will start at 10 a.m. and participants will have seven hours to finish the run, allowing plenty of time to visit several places of interest in Scott County and Mendota, Va.

Proceeds from the Poker Run will benefit the Appalachian Community Action Agency (AppCAA), which provides services to low income families in Scott, Lee and Wise Counties and the City of Norton, and the Spearhead Trailblazers, an organization devoted to developing outdoor recreation events and opportunities.

The route showcases the Carter Family Fold, Mendota, the Mendota Fire Tower, the Town of Nickelsville, Bush Mill and Creation Kingdom Zoo.  The ride has been scheduled in conjunction with Bush Mill Days, a one-day festival, celebrating the historic over-shot grist mill and the crafts of Appalachian Heritage, which will be demonstrating blacksmithing, weaving, pottery-throwing, and making homemade apple cider with a vintage apple press.  As an added incentive to stop at Bush Mill Days, participants will find a “bonus” poker chip at the mill.

“Scott County Tourism jumped on the opportunity to partner with Spearhead Trails for the Big Moccasin Jeep Poker Run,” said Pam Cox, tourism director, Scott County. “This is a great opportunity for visitors to experience the beauty of this region. The trail provides some picturesque views, as well as the opportunity to visit some of our tourism assets like the Carter Family Fold, Teddy’s Restaurant in Nickelsville, the Bush Mill and Creation Kingdom Zoo.”

At the end of the ride, food vendors will be available and participants will be able to cozy up to a firepit.  Riders must stay until the end of the event to determine who has the “best” poker hand.

The mission of Spearhead Trails is to “create and manage multi-use trails in the Southwest Regional Recreation Area to facilitate, enhance and sustain economic development and job creation in Southwest Virginia.

Poker Run Information

Welcome to the inaugural Big Moccasin Poker Run, sponsored by Spearhead Trails, the Town of Gate City and Scott County Tourism.  Proceeds from this event will benefit Spearhead Trailblazers, the trail building component of Spearhead Trails, and AppCAA, which was founded in 1964 by then President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”  Today, the program does much more than fulfill its original mission and, today, provides services in not only Scott County, Virginia, but also Lee and Wise Counties, and the City of Norton.

Today’s run is a 60-plus mile trek that takes you through some amazing countryside and passes by some of Scott County’s most iconic tourism attractions.  We have provided ample time to complete the drive; and along the way, we encourage you to stop and visit some of the featured spots.

The route takes you by the historic Carter Family Fold, where the true father of old-time music, A.P. Carter penned many of his famous songs.  Open every Saturday night, the Fold has maintained A.P. Carter’s dream of continuing the promotion of the old-time sound for future generations. For close to 50 years, the Fold has welcomed old-time musicians, flat footers, and cloggers through its doors, where still today, only acoustic music.  If plans allow, stick around tonight for the 7:30 p.m. show of Whitetop Mountain Band.  This band tends to bring out the flat footers and cloggers to hear their old-time style.

Once a bustling town, the small town of Mendota is working to make a resurgence.  From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Adventure Mendota puts thousands of kayakers on the Holston River.  The Mendota General Store recently re-opened, and you can stop in and grab a snack on your way.

The Mendota Fire Tower Trail offers one of the most spectacular views of the Clinch Mountains and the Moccasin Gap Valley below.  If you prefer not to venture along this path, there are pull offs to capture scenic photographs.

Take your time and enjoy the drive through the Moccasin Valley, where you will find an abundance of farmland with stately homes and a few remnants of homes long forgotten.

Nickelsville is the perfect location for a lunch break.  You have the choice of Teddy’s a local favorite with great food and good service, or if you are hankering for something different, try the local Pizza Plus.

While in the Nickelsville area, we encourage you visit Bush Mill Days, an annual festival at the historic restored water-powered grist mill.  We suggest taking the free shuttle bus from the school because there is not ample parking at the location.Bush Mill  Lunch can also be purchased here from the Nickelsville Ruritan and includes, hotdogs, soup beans and cornbread, and dessert.

Members of the Appalachian Harvest will also be on hand demonstrating crafts, like woodworking, felting, pottery, and blacksmithing.  The group also will be selling fresh-pressed apple cider and cinnamon rolls.

Driving along the dirt roads of Marvin Springs, Addington Frame and Snowflake, make sure to notice the Addington Frame Church.  It was in this area that Sara Carter, wife of A.P., was born and raised.  A.P. used to travel from Maces Springs over the forest road you traveled today to court Sara.

Pull into Creation Kingdom Zoo for one of your poker chips.  Creation Kingdom Zoo is a locally-owned breeding facility for endangered species.  At Creation Kingdom, you can get up close and personal with many of the exhibits and are encouraged to feed the hooved animals and monkeys.  You will find a white Bengal tiger, a black leopard, a chilled lion, and Tucker, a young giraffe that loves to eat out of your hand.

We hope you enjoyed your Jeep adventure today in Scott County.  The next poker run will feature “Around the Clinch,” which is mostly gravel with a few water crossings.  We look forward to seeing you again.

Please come back to visit, or stay a lifetime.  We love it here!

Creation Kingdom Zoo

Black Panther at Creation Kingdom Zoo

Unique interactive personal encounters with some of the worlds rarest animals

Creation Kingdom Zoo is situated on 12 acres of sloping land in Snowflake, Va., just a few miles outside of Gate City. In addition to Bella, the white Bengal tiger, visitors to the zoo can also see leopards, an African serval, Creation Kingdom Zoospider monkeys, camels, wildebeest, a red kangaroo, Surri alpaca, zebras, elands, emu, kookaburra and llamas just to name a few.

One of the most unique and interactive zoo experiences for the whole family with some of the rarest animals on Earth. Creation Kingdom Zoo is situated in the picturesque Snowflake area just 5 miles out of Gate City, VA.

Visitors can see animals ranging from Apes to Zebra and all in between. In addition to being open to the public, the Zoo conducts ongoing research into the behavior and reproduction of several critically endangered species and participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP).

The Zoo is licensed by the USDA, USFW and State of Virginia and holds memberships in the Association of Professional Zookeepers, Association of Professional Wildlife Educators, and Zoological Association of America.

For more information on the zoo, please visit: or call the zoo main line at:276-479-1910

The zoo is available for group tours and parties. Special events are held throughout the year.

The Zoo is open Mid March through November 30

Mon – Sat: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sun: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Creation Kingdom Zoo is located at 1642 Snowflake Road, Gate City. 276-690-5450

(Note:  The zoo is easy to find, but please call for directions.  Please do not rely on Google or your GPS to find Creation Kingdom Zoo.  Google Maps and your GPS are highly unreliable in Scott County.)

Bush Mill in Nickelsville, Virginia

Tiger 1B PhotoWith outdoor recreation, music, history and our own zoo, Scott County, Virginia is a great location for a family vacation.

The cabins at Natural Tunnel State Park or Appalachian Mountain Cabins make a great home base for your family fun.  During the summer, Natural Tunnel offers daily activities suitable for the entire family.  Take a kayak or canoe trip down the Clinch River, one of the world’s most bio-diverse river systems.  Better yet, grab a spot for canorkeling where you can view the river’s large variety of freshwater mussels.  Caving, guided hikes to the Devil’s Bathtub, sunset hayrides and many more family friendly activities are offered at the park.

One of the area’s top attractions, Creation Kingdom Zoo is a breeding facility for rare and endangered species.  Creation Kingdom provides visitors with the opportunity to see rare animals up close and personal. Owned and operated by Marc and Elaine Bradley, the zoo is totally self-funded and participates in the Species Survival Programs (SSP).  The zoo prides itself in a more natural landscape for the animals and visitors alike to enjoy!  If you visit around Halloween, don’t miss Creation Kingdom Zoo’s “Boo at the Zoo” event where your little ghosts and goblins can trick or treat around the animal exhibits at night!

Pack the family into the car and retrace famed frontiersman Daniel Boone’s historic trek on the Wilderness Road.  Make sure to visit the John Anderson Blockhouse at Natural Tunnel and learn how the pioneers used this facility to defend themselves from Indians.

With caches placed throughout the county, this is also a great time to do some family geocaching.  Bush Mill, an over-shot, water-powered grist mill, and Kilgore Fort,New Bush Mill

one of the oldest forts still standing in Southwest Virginia, can be visited by special arrangement.

Immerse your family in the rich musical history of Scott County!  The entire family will enjoy Allen Hicks’ informal Friday Night Jams in Nickelsville.  Musicians, young and old, both professional and amateur, take the stage every Friday night for some laid back pickin’.  Saturday night head over to Hiltons for a visit to the world-famous Carter Family Fold.  Every Saturday night, the Fold celebrates the life of A.P. Carter and his contribution as the “father” of traditional old-time music.  Bands take the stage at 7:30 with some foot stompin’ music and visitors are encouraged to join the regulars in flat footin’ or clogging.

There are plenty of local family-owned restaurants, plus the typical chain varieties.  When visiting Scott County, however, there are several must-stop eateries—The Family Bakery, voted “Best Bakery” during the  Virginia Culinary  Challenge; Pal’s Sudden Service, a local franchise that is the only restaurant to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award; Smoke ‘n Big Barbecue, Campus Drive-in and Molcajetes Mexican Grill in Gate City; Teddy’s In Nickelsville; the Hob Nob in Daniel Boone; the Duffield Grille in Duffield;  and Front Porch Store & Deli in Fort Blackmore,  where fried white fish is served daily.

For more information or help planning your trip to Scott County, Virginia, call 276-386-6521.