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This 100-mile tour takes you through some of Scott County’s most scenic countryside and provides a glimpse of our treasured spots.   Feel free to stop at any location and snap a photo.  There are 14 marked “Selfie” locations, and once completed, please post your photos to Instagram using the hashtags #scottcountyva, #loveva and #scottcountyselfietour.  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.

50 Years of Love Mural, Downtown Gate City

50 Years of Love Mural, Gate City, Virginia

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.

Mendota Firetower

Mendota Firetower

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

Mann Farms

Seasonal produce from 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

Portable LOVEWorks Sign

Portable LOVEWorks 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.

Fat Bottom Girl Cupcake, The Family Bakery

Fat Bottom Girl, The Family Bakery

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.

 

 

 

 

Historical rendering of Daniel Boone and the frontier party blazing their way along the Wilderness Road

Historical Rendering of Daniel Boone Along the Wilderness Road

One of the nation’s most historic routes, the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail was blazed by the legendary frontiersman in 1775 from the Long Island of the Holston at what is now Kingsport TN, through the Cumberland Gap of Virginia into Kentucky.  It would become the route for thousands of settlers to the western frontier.

Long before Columbus discovered America, the Wilderness Trail was a major link in the trail systems of the Indians on the North American continent, used for commerce and raids.  Gabriel Arthur, a young indentured servant, was the first of record to travel the route and see the Cumberland Gap, a natural break in the mountains.  Arthur was sent along the trail in 1674 by the Shawnee Indians to secure a trade agreement with settlers.  The next recorded man to see the Gap was Dr. Thomas Walker in 1750.

The most daring effort to colonize the rich lands of the Kentucky River area were those of Colonel Richard Henderson, a Superior Court judge of North Carolina.  Henderson decided the best way to secure the area was to deal directly with the Cherokee Indians.  He discussed plans with friends, and they formed the Transylvania Company and solicited the assistance of Boone in negotiating with the Indians and blazing the trail.

On March 10, 1775, Boone led his 30 trail blazers from Long Island of the Holston to cut the trail through some 200 miles of wilderness northwest through the Cumberland Gap and into Kentucky.

Thanks to the Daniel Boone Wilderness Road Trail Association, today, travelers can follow the Wilderness Trail as closely as possible along the original route.  Several historical stops are available along the route, and it makes a great day-long road trip through the scenic rolling hills and valleys of Scott County, VA into Lee County, VA to the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky.

Travelers may begin their journey at any juncture along the Wilderness Road.  Some of the more significant stops are listed below.  For detailed map:  https://danielboonetrail.com/trail-map/

Netherland Inn, Long Island of the Holston, Kingsport, Tennessee

Long Island on the Holston, or Hogoheegee River was the sacred treaty ground to the Cherokee.  It is the western terminus of the Reedy Creek Road, which carried the Great Warrior’s Path from Bristol to Kingsport. The Netherland Inn was strategically located in King’s Port and served as a way station for both river and road travelers.  Visitors can access the Long Island of the Holston via a swinging bridge, located on the Greenbelt walkway across from the Netherland Inn.  On the island, visitors can see the monument erected by the Cherokee nation on land ceded to them in commemoration of the United States Bicentennial.  The stone in the monument was brought from the Qualla Reservation at Cherokee, North Carolina.

Long Island of the Holston Marker

Cherokee Nation Marker at Long Island of the Holston

Anderson Blockhouse Site, Carters Valley, Scott County, Virginia

The historic marker indicates the original location of the John Anderson Blockhouse.  Anderson built his blockhouse on the knoll here sometime before 1775. (A replica of the John Anderson Blockhouse was constructed at Natural Tunnel State Park, Duffield, VA.  Generally open Saturday and Sunday, May through October, it is currently closed due to COVID-19.  Visitors can drive up and visit the grounds.)

A blockhouse was a specialized log cabin built of squared logs, and with an upper story that extended out overhanging the walls of the lower structure.  The squaring of the timbers made a tight fit, which left no space for an adversary to shoot through into the interior of the structure.

Since the favorite way to get someone who was barricaded within a log cabin to come out was to set fire to it, the overhanging upper story afforded the opportunity to shoot down on anyone attempting to set the lower building on fire.  Blockhouses were used as fortified strong points by the military all across the Eastern North America.

The Anderson Blockhouse functioned as a gathering spot for pioneers, who would wait at the Blockhouse until enough “guns” had gathered to make the trek through Indian territory.  The Blockhouse was the last contact with the Holston Settlements.

After gathering his 30 ax men at Fort Patrick Henry, it was at the Blockhouse that Boone began to blaze the trail into Kentucky.  The trail went north past the Blockhouse on state route 606 to the ford just upstream from the present swinging bridge.  The swinging bridge is still maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and visitors are encouraged to meander out on the bridge.

Moccasin Gap, Gate City, Virginia

Moccasin Gap in Clinch Mountain is one of two ground level water gaps leading from the western reaches of the Great Valley of Virginia into the interior of the Alleghenies, the other being the Narrows of the New River.

The two main trails of the central Appalachians joined for a short distance to make the passage through Moccasin Gap.  The most important one was the Great Warrior’s Path, or the Wilderness Trail, or alternately the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail.

This area was of great significance during Indian times because it was the main trail connecting the Cherokee Country with that of the Shawnee in Ohio.  This last trail ran from the Smokies through Moccasin Gap to Big Stony Creek to High Knob, Pound Gap, Elkhorn Creek, The Big Sandy River, and across the Ohio River.

Daniel Boone, Virginia, Scott County

Hob Nob Restaurant

Hob Nob Drive-in Restaurant

This railroad yard and the community that surrounds it is the only place in Virginia named after Daniel Boone.  This is the original Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail, and Boone reportedly drank from a spring in this area.  Today, this area is more famous as the home of the Hob Nob, an iconic restaurant that has been in the same family for more than 60 years.  It is famous for its diner fare, in particular the soft-serve ice cream cones.

Clinchport, Virginia and Stock Creek

Cinchport was the head waters of flat boat navigation on the Cinch River, just as Kingsport was on the Holston.  Not only did pioneer loggers build massive log rafts here in the winter to catch the spring tide to float their logs to mills at Chattanooga, but settlers farther up the Clinch would bring produce downstream in dug out canoes called bateaux.  Clinchport was the region’s point of entry into the Tennessee River System.  The Wilderness Road followed Stock Creek from here.

Natural Tunnel State Park, Duffield, Virginia

Natural Tunnel is a great spot to stop, get out and stretch your legs.  Although the Visitor Center is not open to the public now, the chairlift down to the bottom of the Tunnel is currently available Friday through Sunday.  Ride the chairlift down where you can take the boardwalk out to the mouth of the 850-feet long tunnel.  Tall as a ten-story building, the limestone cave within the tunnel was carved out thousands of years ago by Stock Creek.

Blockhouse

Replica of John Anderson Wilderness Road Blockhouse

Wilderness Road Blockhouse Exploration Station, Natural Tunnel State Park, Duffield, Virginia

Located within Natural Tunnel State Park, the Wilderness Road Blockhouse is a replica of the original John Anderson Blockhouse that stood on now Carter’s Valley Road and served as a gathering point for pioneers. Those making their way westward would gather at the Blockhouse until there were enough “guns” to make the trek through Indian territory westward to Kentucky.  The Blockhouse is currently closed to visitors due to COVID-19, but travelers may still stop and walk around the grounds.

Daniel Boone Historical Marker, Duffield, Virginia

One of the few remaining Daniel Boone Historical markers in existence.

Kane Gap, Duffield, Virginia

This natural notch was a welcome sight to travelers on the Wilderness Trail.  It was through this Gap that countless thousands trudged as they made their westward.  Accessed via Fraley Avenue, Duffield, this is the only trail where you can actually walk in the footsteps of famed frontiersman Daniel Boone.  The trail is part of the Daniel Boone Birding and Wildlife Trail.  Managed by the Jefferson National Forest Service, the trail is moderate to difficult, but is worth the climb to the Gap.  Just before reaching the Gap, visitors will see the “pioneer hotel” recorded in many journals.  This large rock outcrop served as a shelter to the thousands before they crossed down into the valley below.

Daniel Boone Wilderness Road Interpretative Center, Duffield, Virginia

A satellite location of Natural Tunnel State Park, the Center is currently open Fri.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.  Admission is free.  Here visitors learn the important role the Wilderness Road played in American’s westward expansion.  The center offers a glimpse of the rough, unforgiving terrain early settlers traversed on their way to Kentucky.  The museum focuses on the portion of the trail from Sycamore Shoals in Elizabethton, Tennessee to the Cumberland Gap and the brave men, women and children who traveled the trail.  There are several hands-on exhibits, such as striking flint and steel to get a spark.

Powell Mountain Overlook, Duffield, Virginia

Regardless of the season, the Powell Mountain Overlook always delivers an amazing view.  Located between Duffield and Stickleyville, Virginia, the Overlook offers a spectacular view down into the valley below and is a favorite stop along the Wilderness Road.

Stickleyville School, Stickleyville, Virginia

The school stands on or near the site of the massacre of James Boone, Daniel’s son.  At the time, the Boones were migrating to Kentucky and James had gone ahead along with several others, notably, Henry Russell. According to accounts of the massacre, “wolves” howled all night around the camp.  At dawn, a mixed party of Shawnee and Cherokee Indians attacked and shot James Boone and Henry Russell, through the hips so that they could not escape.  The pair were then tortured with knives and then killed.  Boone is said to have asked a Shawnee Indian, Big Jim, who Boone knew from visits to the Boone family homestead in North Carolina, to kill him.  Russell was reportedly clubbed to death and his body shot full of arrows.

Jonesville, Virginia

Mumps Fort stood at the top of the hill where the current courthouse is located today.  The Fort was built by William Mumps in 1775 in a community known then as Glade Spring or Sinking Springs.  Mumps Fort abandoned in 1776 at the outbreak of the Cherokee War.  The garrison was then repositioned at Fort Blackmore in Scott County, Virginia.

White Cliffs, Ewing, Virginia

White Cliff Rocks, Ewing, Virginia

White Cliff Rocks, Ewing, Virginia

The white rock cliffs atop Cumberland Mountain were among the most commonly mentioned geographic features recorded in the journals of the emigrants along the entire length of the Trail.  The pioneers seemed to take the cliffs as a hallmark of the wonderful new land that they were claiming as their own.

The term Cumberland seemed to ring in the souls of the pioneers as the name of the port-of-entry into the Promised Land.  The Cumberland Mountain guided them on their way until they reached Cumberland Gap, which was the gateway to Eden.  From there they traveled across the Cumberland Valley to the Bluegrass of Kentucky.

Wilderness Road State Park, Ewing, Virginia

The Wilderness Road State Park offers picnicking, hiking and nature, and living history programs.  Visitors can enjoy the visitor center, home to a theater showing an award-winning docudrama, “Wilderness Road, Spirit of a Nation.”  The center also has a frontier museum and a gift shop with unique regional gifts.  The park features the reconstructed Martin’s Station, an outdoor, living history depicting life on Virginia’s 1775 frontier.  Guests can also enjoy the park’s picnic shelters, nature play-scape, ADA-certified playground, sand volleyball court and horseshoe pits.

Visitors can hike, bike or horseback ride on the 8.5 Wilderness Road Trail linking the park with more than 50 miles in the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Middlesboro, Kentucky

Cumberland Gap National Park

Cumberland Gap National Park

Cumberland Gap National Park is located at the crossroads of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia and creates a natural break in the Appalachian Mountains.  The Cumberland Gap Visitor Center features a museum with interactive exhibits about the Gap’s role as a transportation corridor, and also features the Cumberland Crafts gift shop, which houses juried wares from crafters throughout Appalachia.

The park covers 24,000 acres and is among the largest national parks in the eastern United States.  Stretching about 20 miles, the park runs along the Cumberland Mountains.  It includes 24 known cave features, ranging in size from around 20 feet to more than 16 miles in length.  There are also a large number of cliff systems in the park, the most prominent of which is the 500 feet cliffs of White Rocks, which is located in the eastern portion of the area.  At the northeastern end, the park lies adjacent to the Sillalah Creek Wildlife Management Area and Martin’s Fork Wildlife Management Area and State Natural Area.

Driving the entire Wilderness Road Trail can be done in one full day.  Conveniently located along the way are several places to dine, including Campus Drive-in and Family Bakery, Gate City; the Hob Nob, Daniel Boone; ChuBeez, Duffield; A Better Burger, Jonesville; and Dutch Treat, Rose Hill; as well as national chain fast food restaurants.

For lodging convenient to the Wilderness Trail, visitors have the option of Roberts Mill Suites and Estilville Bed & Breakfast, Gate City; Appalachian Mountain Cabins and PapPaw’s Cabin, Duffield; Valliee Farm Farmhouse, Stickleyville; and Wilderness Road Bed & Breakfast, Ewing.  Camping is available at both Natural Tunnel State Park and Cumberland Gap Wilderness Road Campground.

 

From cool, sparkling mountain creek trails to high-country scenic vistas, Scott County, Virginia and its surrounding counties offer the perfect hike to suit any adventurer’s desire or ability.  All of the hikes listed below, with the exception of the Chief Benge Scout Trail, can be completed in a day and provide a variety of hiking options.  Many of these trails, like Kane Gap and the Sand Cave, are also suitable for horseback riding.

Bark Camp Lake

Fall Colors at Bark Camp Lake

Bark Camp Lake—Bark Camp Lake, Scott County

A 3.5-mile loop trail that circles Bark Camp Lake is one of the easiest and most scenic fall hikes.  The colors will not disappoint, and the lake is a prime spot for anglers and kayakers. Located in the Jefferson National Forest, picnic facilities are available.  Bathtub facilities are currently closed.  Bark Camp is located between Dungannon and Tacoma in northern Scott County.  Take Alternate 58 to Tacoma, then Route 706 to Route 822; then U.S. Forest Development Road (FDR) 993 to the lake.  https://dwr.virginia.gov/waterbody/bark-camp-lake/

Chief Benge Scout Trail—High Knob Land Formation, Wise and Scott Counties

Born to a Scots-Irish trader named, John Benge, and a Cherokee woman, Chief “Bob” Benge stood out physically because of the red hair inherited from his father.  In his 20s, Benge joined forces with the Shawnee band of the Chiksika. He was well-known for his raids against American settlers as far north as the Ohio River, deep into Southwestern Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina.  The trail is named after him because this is the approximate area where Benge was killed by militia leader Vincent Hobbs Jr.

At almost 19 miles, this is the longest hiking trail in the region.  The trail creates a tour of the High Knob high country, starting at the High Knob Lookout Tower near Norton and ending at the Hanging Rock Recreation Area just north of Dungannon.  The Chief Benge trail passes everything from sweeping, 360-degree vistas of five states atop the High Knob Fire Tower to rugged mountain stream gorges, sluices and waterfalls, two high-elevation lakes, and dense hardwood forests in between.  https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/gwj/recarea/?recid=79250

Devil’s Fork Trail Loop—Dungannon, Scott County

The Devil’s Fork Trail Loop is a seven-mile, round trip that accesses the famed Devil’s Bathtub.  The trail can either be followed in its entirety loop-wise or broken down for easier access.  Once you cross the first creek, you will come to a “T” in the trail.  Here you have the option of taking the trail to the right, which is four miles with no creek crossings or the trail to the left with 13 creek crossings to access the Devil’s Bathtub.

Either way, this is technical terrain.  Hikers are advised to check weather conditions before accessing the trail as water levels could be higher following significant rainfall.  Hikers are advised to avoid parking in the small lot at the trailhead to the Devil’s Bathtub.  The access road has become rutted and impassable except for high vehicles.  Instead, please use the new parking lot located at 312 High Knob SC, Dungannon, VA 24245.  https://www.traillink.com/trail/devils-fork-loop-trail/

Falls of Little Stony—Dungannon, Scott County and Coeburn, Wise County

Make sure to pack a camera for the hike to the Falls of Little Stony.  The Little Stony National Recreation Trail is a 2.8-mile trail with an upper trailhead at the Falls of Little Stony Creek and a lower trailhead at Hanging Rock Picnic Area.

Falls of Little Stony

This trail follows Little Stony Creek through a 400’ deep and 1700’ wide gorge.  Large outcrops, rock ledges and boulders form the scenic edges along Stony Creek. In some areas, hikers will need to climb around/over boulders and large rocks to remain on the trail.  A scenic 27’ waterfall, along with two smaller waterfalls, gives this site its name.

With several covered shelters, Hanging Rock Picnic area is a great spot to enjoy a picnic lunch.  Shelters are open: bathroom facilities are closed.  https://dwr.virginia.gov/vbwt/sites/little-stony-national-recreation-trail/

Flag Rock—High Knob Land Formation, Wise County

This 1.1-mile trail climbs almost a thousand feet one-way as it travels from Legion Park to Flag Rock Recreation Area.  https://www.nortonva.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/Flag-Rock-Recreation-Area-8

Guest River Gorge—Jefferson National Forest, Wise County

A Rails-to-Trails path, this 5.8-mile gravel footpath travels along the Guest River to its confluence with the Clinch River.  The trail follows the Guest River as it meanders by eight branches and creeks and terminates at the Guest River’s confluence with the Clinch River.

This scenic trail passes through riparian woodlands, creekside bottoms, 300-million-year-old cliff lines and rock outcrops.  An abundance of wildlife is easily viewed along this trail, with spectacular migration along this riparian corridor in spring and fall.  Keep an eye out for giant snapping turtles and various salamanders.  Also great for fishing.  https://dwr.virginia.gov/vbwt/sites/guest-river-gorge-trail/

Kane Gap—Duffield, Scott County

This historic footpath is the only trail today where you can walk in the actual footsteps of famed frontiersman Daniel Boone.  It was up this mountain and through Kane Gap that Boone and his 30-axe men blazed the Wilderness Road Trail, opening the way for thousands of migrants to make their way west.

The Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association has marked Boone’s historic trail, where you can still see the pioneer “hotel” that housed thousands crossing over into Wallen’s Valley and then onward to Kentucky.  Once used as a mail route, the trail is fairly easy to traverse but includes a somewhat step zig-zag ascent to the top of the Gap.  Most of the trail is surrounded by habitat of Appalachian mixed forests as well as remnants of old orchards.  https://dwr.virginia.gov/vbwt/sites/kane-gap-trail/

Natural Tunnel State Park—Duffield, Scott County, Seven Trails

  • Purchase Ridge, 2.07 miles, moderate
  • Stock Creek, 1.03 miles, moderate
  • Virginia Birding and Wildlife, 0.7 miles, moderate
  • Tunnel Hill, 0.54 miles, moderate
  • Cabin, 0.5 miles, easy
  • Lover’s Leap, 0.36 miles, moderate
  • Gorge Ridge, 0.27 miles, moderate
  • Tunnel, 0.27, difficult
  • Carter Log Cabin, 0.13, easy

This following link provides detailed description on how to link the Natural Tunnel Trails for a challenging day hike.  http://mathprofhikingblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/natural-tunnel-state-park-blog-hike-377.html

Sand Cave Ewing Virginia

Sand Cave, Ewing, Virginia

Sand Cave—Ewing, VA, Lee County

Tucked away in the Cumberland Gap National Park, hikers and horseback riders will discover a ceiling of gold, red and green, eroded rock forms and photo ops to cherish.  Access to this gem is through Thomas Walker Civic Park in Ewing.  A 3.9-mile hike brings visitors to the entrance of this natural wonder.  Continuing along this trail, leads to White Rocks (5.2 miles) where hikers and equestrians can view three states—Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.  Horses are welcome and there is ample trailer parking at the trailhead. https://www.trailrunproject.com/trail/7025465/ewing-trail-sand-cave-and-white-rock

Several overnight options are available for visitors wanting to hit more than one hiking area.  Depending on personal needs, you can either grab a tent and sleeping bag and “rough it” at camping accommodations within Natural Tunnel State Park or pile up along the banks of the Clinch River at either SomeThing Squatchy or Camp Clinch.  All offer primitive camping and RV hook-ups.  Natural Tunnel even has primitive Yurts for rent.

After a day-long hike, those who prefer a nice long soak in a Jacuzzi tub are encouraged to make Appalachian Mountain Cabins home base for their foray into the wilderness. Locally-owned and operated, Appalachian Mountain Cabins features four cabins with sleeping accommodations for two to eight persons.  Cabins are fully furnished and include satellite television and free WiFi.

Scott County is home to several locally-owned iconic restaurants including the Hob Nob, Teddy’s Restaurant, Chubeez, Front Porch Store & Deli, The Redstone and Campus Drive-in.  No trip to Scott County is complete without a stop at The Family Bakery in downtown Gate City.  Voted “Virginia’s Best Bakery,” the bakery features amazing cupcakes and lunches that are perfect to take out for a picnic lunch.

For more information or assistance planning your hike, please call Scott County Tourism at 423-863-1667.

With an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities, small town experiences, and our own zoo, Scott County, Virginia is a great location for a safe, family vacation or day-trip far from the crowd.

For those looking for an extended adventure, the cabins at Natural Tunnel State Park or Appalachian Mountain Cabins make a great home base for your family fun.  As part of the Virginia Park system, the cabins at Natural Tunnel provide the highest standards of health safety.  The locally-owned Appalachian Mountain Cabins, located next to the park, adhere to all guidelines established by the county and state health departments.

Natural Tunnel Chairlift

Natural Tunnel Chairlift Open Friday through Monday

While programming at Natural Tunnel has been limited during the coronavirus, visitors can still enjoy rides on the chairlift down to the bottom of the tunnel or hike and bike one of the many nature trails.  The newest addition to the park, the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Interpretative Center, is open Friday through Monday.  Admission is free, and visitors can experience life as a settler making their way westward on the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail.  Located at 1420 Natural Tunnel State Park, Duffield.  276-940-2674 Website: http://www.virginiastateparks.gov

For a day of river activity, visitors can rent tubes or kayaks from SomeThing Squatchy, located on the Clinch River Highway in nearby Clinchport.  Guided raft tours, tube and kayak rentals area available.  Raft tours are $25 per person, tube rentals are $20 per person, and kayaks are $25 per person.  Children six and under are free and there is special pricing for groups of four or more.  Open daily at 9 a.m. Information or reservations, call 276-202-6074.  Free shuttle service will rentals. If your family just wants to hang out for the day, children will love the Slip ‘n Slide down into the Clinch.  Concessions sold on site.  Located at 1750 Clinch River Hwy., Duffield.  276-202-6074.

Located on Highway 23, Clinch River Life is open Saturday and Sunday and offers tube rentals at varying prices.  Large, anchored party rafts and tubes are available on site and shuttle service is available to various launch sites along the Clinch River.  For more information, call 276-690-9199.

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.  Visitors can feed many of the animals, including zoo favorite, Tucker, the giraffe.  Owned and operated by Marc and Elaine Bradley, the zoo is totally self-funded and participates in the Species Survival Programs. Located at 1692 Snowflake Rd., Gate City.  Telephone 276-479-1910.  Open daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Last tickets sold at 4 p.m.)

Creation Kingdom Zoo

Black Panther at Creation Kingdom Zoo

Railroad enthusiasts will want to head to the far eastern end of Scott County for a visit to Powers Mill.  Dave Powers has created a 13-guage rail line excursion through his property on Sinking Creek.  The kids can enjoy a train ride, powered by a small-scale engine, and Mom can shop in wife Peggy’s store, Powers Mill Primitives, which is stocked with clothing, linens and home décor.  Located at 4710 Sinking Creek Hwy., Dungannon.  Open Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Information, call 276-467-1084.

During September and October, the Punkin’ Patch Farm, Nickelsville, is a great place to take the kids for a hayride,  a romp through the corn maze, or  to pet goats, donkeys and sheep.  Punkin’ Patch is open daily during the fall and hosts an annual free Family Fun Day and a special Halloween event.  Located at 984 Cowan’s Creek Rd.  Telephone:  276-479-3228 or 423-361-0834.

Leaning more to a car adventure, then pack the kids into the car and head out on the Daniel Boone Wilderness Road driving tour or search for trackable WanderLove geo coins at Scott County’s WanderLove geo trail.  You can follow the adventures of Daniel Boone from the Long Island of the Holston to Cumberland Gap from the comfort of your car.  You can do the entire drive, which will take all day or just follow the trail in Scott County.  Driving tour is available at https://danielboonetrail.com/trail-map/

Scott County’s WanderLove geo trail will take about four hours to complete and provides a scenic drive through the countryside and stops at our most historic places and iconic eateries.  Obtain the coordinates at (website link).  Once you complete the trail, mail the form to Scott County Tourism to receive one of the county’s limited number WanderLove geo coins.

The county also has a 100-mile Scenic Selfie Tour that takes visitors along the backroads to visit many of the county’s most historic landmarks.  For detailed directions, visit https://www.explorescottcountyva.org/uncategorized/scott-county-scenic-selfie-wanderlove-tour/ .

Scott County is home to several local family-owned restaurants, many of which have been open for 50 plus years.  The county has a few must-stop eateries—The Family Bakery, voted “Best Bakery during the Virginia Culinary Challenge and Campus Drive-in, both in Gate City; the Hob Nob in Daniel Boone; Teddy’s in Nickelsville; ChuBeez in Duffield; and the Front Porch Store & Deli, where fried white fish is served daily.

For more information or help planning your trip to Scott County, Virginia, please visit call 423-863-1667.

Wild about Wildlife Home School Program

Natural Tunnel State Park has a variety of wildlife that can be seen and heard. During this four month long program, the importance of these animals will be covered. We will meet the first and third Tuesday of each month.

January 7 and 21: Bears
February 4 and 21: Frogs & Toads
March 10 and 24: Bats
April 7 and 21: Snakes

Cost: $3 per person per program or $20 per person for the entire 2020 homeschool series. Elementary-aged children are encouraged to come twice a month to discover the unique animals in our state park. To register, or for additional information contact Cheyenne Mullins at [email protected] or 276-940-1643. Meet at the Cove Ridge Center.

 

First Day Hike

Hiking Boots

Saturday, January 18

1 p.m. – Winter Woods Walk. Join a park interpreter on a leisurely walk in the woods. Throughout the walk, discover the animal and plant life still active during the cold winter months. The hike will be no more than a mile in distance on moderate terrain. Meet at the Visitor Center. Free

Sunday, January 19

2 p.m. – The Native People of the Southern Appalachians. Join Randy Smith as he shares the story of the origins of indigenous people in the Americas. He will discuss the many ways Native culture is very different from that of European culture and aspects of the “Great Encounter” when Europeans came to this continent. Meet at the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Interpretive Center. Free

 Sunday, February 9

5:30 p.m. – Full Moon Hike. Enjoy a guided hike to the Gazebo and be a part of a unique experience here at Natural Tunnel. This 1.2 mile hike will take place along a semi-moderate trail. Dress for the weather. Meet at the Blockhouse Parking Lot. Free

Saturday, February 15

 8:30 a.m. – Great Backyard Bird Count. Become a citizen scientist and learn about the birds in your backyard. Learn more about the bird count and have the opportunity to count birds found throughout the park. This event is open to all ages and skill levels. Beginners welcome. Event will be held rain or shine. Field guides and binoculars will be provided, but if you have your own, please bring them. (Limited supply) Meet at the Cove Ridge Center. Free

Saturday, February 22

3 p.m. – Winter Tree ID. Learn to identify some of our native trees during the dormant season. Participants will learn to use morphological traits such as branching pattern, bark color and texture to identify trees. This program will begin at the Cove Ridge Center followed by an easy walk to identify trees. Dress accordingly and wear footwear suitable for hiking. Free

The award-winning Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation        and Recreation.

For more information about Virginia State Parks’ activities and amenities, or to make reservations in one of the more than 1,800 campsites or 300 climate-controlled cabins, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 800-933-PARK or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov

Carina NebulaSaturday, September 21

8:30 a.m. – Cherokee Canoe Trip. Spend time floating 5.5 miles down the Clinch River. Pre-registration is required. For more information on age requirements and prices, contact the park office at 276-940-2674. Meet at the Stock Creek Interpretive Center.

 2 p.m. – Wild Cave Tour: Bolling Cave. Explore the underground world of caves in their true form. Crawl through crevasses and waddle through tunnels. Pre-registration is required. For more information on age requirements and prices, contact the park office at 276-940-2674. Meet at the Stock Creek Interpretive Center.

7:00 p.m. Touring the Galaxy. View the stars, from the gazebo, as they begin to illuminate in the night sky. Park interpreters will provide a shuttle up to the gazebo. Only flashlights with a red filter are permitted, to help preserve night vision. Free

Sunday, September 22

10 a.m. – Stock Creek Passage. View the tunnel from the inside out. This strenuous walk will include crossing boulders and rocks, just like the early adventurers. Pre-registration is required. For more information on age requirements and prices, contact the park office at 276-940-2674. Meet at the Stock Creek Interpretive Center.

1 p.m. – Tunnel Talk. As you enjoy the awe-inspiring views of the mouth of the tunnel, discover why this geologic phenomenon is so unique. Meet at the Visitor Center. Free

Saturday, September 28

8:30 a.m. – Clinch River Cleanup. Join interpreters on National Public Land’s Day as they paddle down the Clinch river picking up trash that may be clogging our waterways. Pre-registration is required. For more information on age requirements and prices, contact the park office at 276-940-2674. Meet at the Stock Creek Interpretive Center.

2 p.m. – Wild Cave Tour: Bolling Cave. Explore the underground world of caves in their true form. Crawl through crevasses and waddle through tunnels. Pre-registration is required. For more information on age requirements and prices, contact the park office at 276-940-2674. Meet at the Stock Creek Interpretive Center.

7 p.m. – 10 p.m. – Lighting of the Tunnel. Take a lantern lit chairlift ride down to the naturally made tunnel at night.

Sunday, September 29

10 a.m. – Stock Creek Passage. View the tunnel from the inside out. This strenuous walk will include crossing boulders and rocks, just like the early adventurers. Pre-registration is required. For more information on age requirements and prices, contact the park office at 276-940-2674. Meet at the Stock Creek Interpretive Center.

1 p.m. – Tunnel Talk. As you enjoy the awe-inspiring views of the mouth of the tunnel, discover why this geologic phenomena is so unique. Meet at the Visitor Center. Free

Fincastle Hayrides

September 20 and 27 at 6 p.m.

Take a step back in time as we travel along the historic Fincastle Turnpike. Pre-registration is required. For more information on age requirements and prices, contact the park office at 276-940-2674. Meet at the Blockhouse Parking Lot.

For more information:

https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/park-event-info?id=NT190046-05

With a national forest, a state park and locally-owned campgrounds, Scott County has plenty of camping options; including Yurts, primitive, RV and dispersed camping in the Jefferson National Forest.

Camp Clinch

Camp Clinch on Anglers Way RoadFamily owned campground on the Historic Clinch River.Camping here means waking up to the sounds of the river and nature.  We are 7 miles from the main highway, it’s the perfect place to get back to nature and spend time with the ones you love.

The totally renovated camp features 30 and 50 amp sites, 27 full hookup sites with 20 electric and water, 20 premium full hookup sites on the river.  There are fire pits at each site and new picnic tables.  Along with the renovations is a totally refurbished bathhouse plus a new gravel road and campsites.

The Nature Conservancy considers the Clinch River “America’s Crown Jewel” in southwest Virginia. The Clinch River is home to more species of endangered and rare freshwater mussels than anywhere else in the world. Come Kayak, Tube, Canoe or Explore this natural wonder. But, don’t forget to make time to fish or just relax and enjoy the scenery.

Conveniently located near Bristol Motor Speedway, A.P. Carter Family Fold, Creation Kingdom Zoo, Natural Tunnel State Park, plus endless hiking opportunities to Devil’s Bathtub, Little Stony Falls, High Knob and the Jefferson National Forest.

Campground includes a small playground for children, plus a large area for recreational sports, basketball hoop and a hand-launch site to the Clinch River.

AMENITIES

  • Pet Friendly
  • Group Friendly
  • Waterfront

For more information, visithttp://www.campclinch.com

For reservations, call RESERVEAmerica

Jefferson National Forest

Bark Camp LakeBark Camp Recreation Area

Bark Camp Recreation Area is situated on a 45 acre lake that is regularly stocked with rainbow trout. A three mile shoreline trail circles the lake, offering outstanding views. Highlights include an open air amphitheater overlooking the lake, a short hike to an interesting geological formation called “Kitchen Rock,” and outstanding universally accessible fishing piers and picnicking facilities. This recreation area bosts 34 campsites, 9 of which have electric hookups.

At a Glance

Fees $16 per single campsite per night. $32 per double campsite per night. $5 electric hookups. $3 per vehicle day use area fee.
Open Season: mid-May to mid-September
Restrictions: No gasoline powered boats allowed on the lake.
Closest Towns: Coeburn, VA
Water: Water may not be available this season. Call the Clinch Ranger District for more information.
Restroom: BBath houses have hot showers and flush toilets (depending on water availability)
Operated By: Clinch Ranger District: (276) 679-8370
Information Center: Bark Camp Recreation Area:  276-467-1209

General Information

Directions:

From Kingsport, TN: Follow US23 North to Norton VA. Take the Alternate 58 East exit toward Coeburn VA. Follow Alt 58 East for 5 miles to Tacoma. At the stop light turn right onto SR 706 and follow to the intersection with SR 699 on the left. Follow SR 699 for 0.1 mile then turn right onto SR 822. Follow SR 822 for 2 miles to the entrance of Bark Camp Recreation Area on the right.

From Abingdon, VA: Follow US 58W/US 19N to Hansonville, VA. Turn left onto US 58W Alternate and drive to Tacoma, VA. At the stop light, turn left (south) onto SR 706 and follow to the intersection with SR 699 on the left. Follow SR 699 for 0.1 mile then turn right onto SR 822. Follow SR 822 for 2 miles to the entrance of Bark Camp Recreation Area on the right.

High Knob Recreation Area

The High Knob Recreation Area was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the late 1930’s. This remote and private location offers cooler summer temperatures due to its higher mountain elevation.

At a Glance

Fees $10 per camp site per night. Group camp site $25 per night. For day use area $5 per vehicle up to 8 passenger capacity, and $1 per person for buses and large vans carrying more than 8 passangers and walk-ins.
Open Season: mid-May to mid-September
Restrictions: 16 foot maximum vehicle length (vehicle and trailer).
Closest Towns: Norton, VA
Water: Drinking water available
Restroom: Bath houses have hot showers and flush toilets
Operated By: Clinch Ranger District: (276) 679-8370
Information Center: High Knob Recreation Area:  276-679-1754

General Information

Directions:

From Kingsport, TN: Follow US23 North to the first Norton, VA exit. Take this exit and make a right onto SR 619. Travel 3.8 miles to the intersection with FS238 East. Turn left onto FS238 East and travel 1.6 miles to campground entrance.

From Abingdon, VA: Follow US 58W/US 19N to Hansonville, VA. Turn left onto US 58W Alternate and drive to Norton. At Norton, turn south onto SR 619. Travel 3.8 miles to the intersection with FS238 East. Turn left onto FS238 East and travel 1.6 miles to campground entrance.

Natural Tunnel State Park

Natural Tunnel ChairliftCamping

The park has two campgrounds, Cove View Campground and Lover’s Leap Campground. All sites have electricity and water (EW). Sites in Lover’s Leap Campground may be specifically reserved. Here’s a table (PDF) with details about those sites. Click here for pictures of those sites. Cove View Campground sites are reserved upon arrival.

Cove View Campground – 16 electric-water hookup sites

  • Up to six people per site. The only exception is for immediate families of no more than two adults over 18 and their minors, all of whom must be under 18.
  • Each campsite has a campfire-ring grill and an extended-top picnic table.
  • Firewood and ice are sold at campground host site.
  • Two vehicles per campsite. There is additional parking by the bathhouse (an additional daily parking fee applies there).
  • Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. through 6 a.m. Only overnight guests are allowed in the park after 10 p.m. Guests visiting campers should park in the bathhouse parking area.
  • The park has a junior Olympic-size swimming pool and 100-foot water slide. Each member of the camper party may get a pool pass. Passes are part of the registration packet. A pass is issued for each night of rental. The pool is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The last two weeks of August, it is open only on weekends. Refunds will not be made should the pool be unavailable. Swimming is free to overnight guests only when available.

EW – Electric and Water Hookup Sites (001 EW – 016 EW). Shaded and sunny sites are for tents, pop-ups and RVs up to 38 feet. Electrical service is 20 and 30-amp. All sites are gravel pull-through with a grassy area and have a campfire-ring grill and a picnic table. A bathhouse with hot showers is at the end of the campground loop.

Lover’s Leap Campground – 18 electric-water hookup sites

  • Up to six persons are allowed per site. The only exception is for immediate family.
  • Each site has a campfire-ring grill and an extended-top picnic table.
  • Firewood and ice are sold at campground host site.
  • Two vehicles per campsite. There is additional parking by the bathhouse (an additional daily parking fee applies there).
  • Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. through 6 a.m. Only overnight guests are allowed in the park after 10 p.m. Guests visiting campers should park by the bathhouse and must pay the daily parking fee.
  • A volleyball net and horseshoe pits are in campground area.
  • The park has a junior Olympic-size swimming pool and 100-foot water slide. Each member of the camper party may get a pool pass. Passes are part of the registration packet. A pass is issued for each night of rental. The pool is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The last two weeks of August, it is open only on weekends. Refunds will not be made should the pool be unavailable. Swimming is free to overnight guests only when available.

EW – Electric and Water Hookup Sites (LL 01- LL 18). These sites are for tents, pop-ups and RV’s up to 50 feet. Electrical service is 20, 30 and 50-amp. All are back-in sites and have a campfire-ring grill, picnic table, lantern post and utility table. Campsite 9 is accessible to the disabled and is near the bathhouse. The site is not reserved strictly for those with disabilities. Because sites are assigned upon arrival, ask park personnel for this site when you get there. Tents and all other recreational equipment should be set up within the campsite’s boundaries. The campground bathhouse has showers, restrooms and a laundry facility.

Total camp sites in the park of each type: EW: 34

Group Site

Natural Tunnel’s group site is in a partially wooded area about half a mile from main campgrounds and bathhouses. Parking is available at the site, but RV’s and camping units are not allowed.

Amenities

  • Five 15 ft. x 15 ft. tent pads. (Accommodates up to 30 people total, depending on tent size.)
  • Common area with fire ring.
  • Eating area with four picnic tables.
  • Camp tent suitable for group activities.
  • Utility building with electricity and lights suitable for storage or food prep (no cooking inside shed).
  • Parking for up to five vehicles. (Overflow parking available in main campground). No RV or camping trailer parking is available.
  • 30-amp electrical outlet.
  • Potable water spigot.
  • Two portable toilets. (No showers on site.)
  • Swimming for group campers is $1 per person.

Yurts

Yurts at Natural Tunnel CampgroundRecreational yurts are a modern adaptation of an ancient nomadic shelter. Functionally speaking, they’re a cross between a tent and a cabin. The park has four yurts, which are adjacent to the Cove View Campground. Each has a large wooden deck with patio tables, a picnic table and a fire-ring with cooking grate. Reservations are required. Parking for two vehicles is allowed. Those with additional vehicles must pay a daily parking fee and park in the overflow lot by the park office.

Check-in is 4 p.m. and checkout is 10 a.m. The rental season begins on the first Friday in March and ends on the first Sunday of December. Cabin rental and cancellation policies apply. There is a two-night minimum rental during the rest of camping season.

  • Maximum occupancy four. Sleeps three. One queen-sized and a twin-sized trundle pull-out. Guests must bring sleeping bags or linens.
  • No smoking, cooking or pets allowed in the yurt.
  • Each yurt has no electricity or water, but there’s a common-use water spigot shared among the yurts.
  • Dining table seats four.
  • No heat or air-conditioning.
  • Guests use the Cove View Campground bathhouse.
  • Yurts 3 and 4 are ADA-accessible.

 

Continue the journey along the Wilderness Road by visiting the new Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Interpretative Center, located in Duffield, Virginia.  Daniel Boone Interpretative Center

The new center overlooks Kane Gap–a visible representation that shows the path settlers once toon on their westward journey.  A satellite location of Natural Tunnel State Park, the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Interpretative Center is a multi-purpose facility with a large conference room, library and museum.  The center focuses largely on the story of the Wilderness Road from Sycamore Shoals to Cumberland Gap.  The ultimate goal is to educate visitors on the importance of the Wilderness Road and the key role it played in westward expansion.

At the center, explore the interactive museum, participate in a scheduled program and visit the gift shop for souvenirs and additional information about the area’s history.  The center is the perfect location to schedule a field trip or reserve the conference room for a meeting or special event.

Winter hours of operation are Friday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Free.  Located at 371 Technology Trail, Duffield, Virginia.

Call 276-431-0104 for more information.

 

 Natural Tunnel State Park Image

Natural Tunnel

Stunning views of the natural tunnel, trails, bird watching, campground, swimming pool, chair lift, visitor’s center, meeting facilities, picnicking, amphitheater, and interpretive programs.

Directions:
Natural Tunnel State Park is in Scott County, about 13 miles north of Gate City and 20 miles north of Kingsport, Tenn.. To get there, from I-81, take U.S. 23 North to Gate City (about 20 miles). The turn-off to the park is at mile marker 17.4 on Rt. 23. Take Natural Tunnel Parkway about one mile east to park entrance.

Drive Time:
Northern Virginia, eight hours; Richmond, six hours; Tidewater/Norfolk/Virginia Beach, eight to nine hours; Roanoke, three and a half hours
Contact Person: Robert Chapman
Phone: (276) 940-2674

Highlights:
Gorge surrounded by 400 foot cliffs, water-carved 850 foot tunnel, rare plants, trains

Length:
Seven trails range in length from 0.3 miles to 1.1 miles.

Difficulty:
Easy to difficult

Trailhead:
From Duffield, drive south on Rte 23 for 4 miles until you see a sign for Natural Tunnel State Park at mile marker 17.4. Turn left and follow the Natural Tunnel Parkway about one mile east to the park entrance.

Facilities: picnic areas, visitor’s center, campground, playground, swimming pool, chair lift, canoe trips, cave exploration, campfire programs, geo-ranger programs, visitor center and amphitheater. Natural Tunnel State Park offers a variety of short trails close to the interstate, perfect for an afternoon of walking.

About Natural Tunnel State Park
The park is named after a one million year old cave which runs under Purchase Ridge, allowing Stock Creek to go in one side and out the other. South of the ridge, the cave opens up into a spectacular basin encircled on three sides by 400 foot cliffs. A railroad has taken advantage of this natural passage to follow the path of the creek, and daily coal trains can be seen roaring through the tunnel. Of the seven trails found in the park, at least two are must-see additions to any Scott County visit.

The 0.3 mile trail into the gorge is steep but short, winding down the side of the cliff to the mouth of the tunnel. A chair lift follows the same route, so even those not interested in a hike can experience the gorge.

Back at the visitor’s center, a 0.9 mile loop can be created by Wood-Poppy-Celandinefollowing the Lover’s Leap Trail to a stunning vista overlooking the gorge, then heading back along the Gorge Ridge Trail. Botanists will be enticed by the rare, xeric (dry-loving) plants found along the cliff edge while birders often see raptors circling in the breeze.

Other trails include the 0.7 mile, easy Tunnel Hill Trail; the 1.1 mile, difficult Purchase Ridge Trail; the 0.3 mile difficult Spring Hollow Trail; and the 0.7 mile, moderate Birding and Wildlife Trail. Visit the park’s website to learn about cave and canoe tours and other special events.

More about the park:
Natural Tunnel, called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by William Jennings Bryan, has been attracting visitors to the mountains of Southwest Virginia for more than 100 years. Today, it is the focal point of the Natural Tunnel State Park, an 850-acre park owned and operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Natural Tunnel was recently named “One of the Top 20 Tunnels in the World” by the “Weather Channel.”

The 850-foot-long Natural Tunnel is more than one million years old. The Norfolk Southern Rail System uses the track that winds through the Natural Tunnel on a daily basis. Visitor access to the tunnel is by a hiking trail or a chair lift. Once you make the 530-foot descent, a 500-foot boardwalk and observation deck are provided — both accessible to physically-challenged visitors.

Blockhouse-in-Fog

Wilderness Road Blockhouse

Cove Ridge Educational Center
Cove Ridge is a beautiful lodge equipped with meeting rooms and classrooms that are ideal for school groups, retreats, etc. Dorm-style lodging accommodations are connected to the main building. A huge deck on the back of the lodge affords guests and visitors a breathtaking, panoramic view of the mountains.

Also within the state park, visitors can find a replica of the John Anderson Blockhouse, which was used a way station during the early settlement of this nation.  Pioneers, headed west, and travelers would stop and wait at the Blockhouse until they had enough guns for protection against Indian attacks to proceed their journey westward.

Throughout the spring, summer and fall, Natural Tunnel offers numerous

Lighting of the Tunnel

Lighting of the Tunnel

educational programs.  “Lighting of the Tunnel,” held after Thanksgiving thru the week before Christmas is a real highlight of the holiday season.  The Park also offers “Lighting of the Tunnel” once a month during the summer.

For more information, please contact the park at (276) 940-2674 or 800-933-PARK or visit their website at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/nat.shtml

36-Miles of Historic Virginia Coal Heritage Trail in Scott County, Virginia

Scott County was formed in 1814 out of Lee, Russell, and Washington Counties.

The county plays host to a variety of natural and cultural attractions. The Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail travels through Scott County and witnessed thousands of pioneers pass through on journey as part of our nations westward expansion. The Coal Heritage Trail travels along Route 23 from Lee County 4.09 miles to the town of Duffield, Virginia. Duffield, once known as Little Flat Lick, serves as a gateway to the West along the Wilderness Road. This location provides a vantage point in which visitors can watch the trains roll past full of coal leaving Southwest Virginia.

Fannon Railroad MuseumLocated on the right at the intersection of Route 58/421/23 is the Fannon Railroad Museum operated by local railroad enthusiast Kenny Fannon. Many of the exhibits and items on display depict the rich railroad history that was a result of the coalfields that lay just to the North.

The Coal Heritage Trail leaves Duffield and travels 4.6 miles on Rt. 871 (Natural Tunnel Parkway) to Natural Tunnel State Park.Natural Tunnel State Park

The 850 foot long Natural Tunnel provides a way through to the coalfields beginning in 1890 and continuing until today. The tunnel is the focal point of Natural Tunnel State Park. The park offers a variety of recreational activities.

The Coal Heritage Trail then leaves Natural Tunnel State Park along Rt. 871 and travels 1.2 miles to an intersection with Route 23/58/421. Turning left onto Route 23/58/421, travel 1.26 miles to Route 65 (Clinch River Highway).

After turning left onto Route 65, you will travel under the Norfolk Southern Railroad trestle. This trestle represents one of two major railway lines hauling coal out of Southwest Virginia to Southeastern U.S. power plants.

The Coal Heritage Trail then leaves Natural Tunnel State Park along Rt. 871 and travels 1.2 miles to an intersection with Route 23/58/421. Turning left onto Route 23/58/421, travel 1.26 miles to Route 65 (Clinch River Highway).

After turning left onto Route 65, you will travel under the Norfolk Southern Railroad trestle. This trestle represents one of two major railway lines hauling coal out of Southwest ie
Virginia to Southeastern U.S. power plants.

The area immediately past the railroad trestle is what remains of a town known as Clinchport. This once thriving river town was completely destroyed by a catastrophic flood in 1977. Remains of the town blocks can still be seen.

From Clinchport, you will travel 8.6 miles to the town of Ft. Blackmore. Along the way you will be traveling parallel to the Clinch River, one of the most ecological diverse rivers in the CSX TrainUnited States. The Clinch River flows 135 miles through Southwest Virginia and into Tennessee where it ends at the Tennessee River. Also following the river is the CSX railroad formally known as the Carolina, Clinchfield, and Ohio Railroad. This railroad, in addition to the aforementioned Norfolk Southern line, provided avenues of commerce through Scott County to move coal, timber, and freight products from the region.

While traveling along Route 65 you will pass the General John Salling Monument. This monument is in honor of General John Salling, Virginia’s last surviving Confederate veteran and resident of Scott County. General Salling died in March of 1959 at the age of 112.

Upon arriving at Fort Blackmore, you will turn left on State Route 65/72 and travel 8.35 miles to Dungannon, Virginia. Fort Blackmore was a famous early fort and was situated on an ancient elevated flood plain on the north side of the Clinch River. For many years, this fort was on the extreme frontier of Virginia and was used by hunters, explorers, adventurers, and home seekers for rest and refreshment.  Daniel Boone was in command of Fort Blackmore and other forts on the Clinch River in 1774 while the militiamen were engaged in the Point Pleasant campaign of Dunmore’s war. From Ft. Blackmore continue on Rt. 65/72, 8.35 miles to the town of Dungannon.

In Dungannon, be careful to turn right on Rt. 65 and cross the Clinch River following Route 65 as it travels 5.08 miles to the Russell County line. In Dungannon, Route 72 leaves Route 65 and travels up the mountain to Coeburn, Virginia where you can continue on the Coal Heritage Trail in Wise County, Virginia.