With fall just around the corner, it’s time to plan your fall outing and leaf tour through Scott County, Virginia and Southwest Virginia.
Labor Day weekend brings the opening of the Punkin’ Patch, 984 Cowan Creek Rd., Nickelsville. For 30 years, Walter Manis and his family have been hosting special fall events at their Punkin’ Patch. Due to COVID-19, special events have been canceled, but the farm will be open for the season. Specializing in seasonal décor, the Punkin’ Patch offers pumpkins, gourds, fodder, fall décor, plus seasonal foods. The petting zoo is still available for the children’s enjoyment as well as the corn maze. Hours are Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sun., 1-5 p.m.
Cooler temps also make fall the perfect time to visit Creation Kingdom Zoo when the animals are more active during the day. Creation Kingdom offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with rare and endangered species. Located at 1692 Snowflake Rd., the Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with the last ticket sold at 4 p.m.
Don’t let the cooler temperatures stop you from taking a raft tour or kayak trip down the Clinch River with outfitters SomeThing Squatchy. Located on the Clinch River, SomeThing Squatchy opens daily at 9 a.m. and is open year-round with advance reservations in the cooler season.
Fall is the perfect time to take a road trip through Scott County. There are numerous possible routes available from Scott County, but the ultimate destination for spectacular foliage is the High Knob Land Formation.
High Knob offers several high elevation lakes, which capture the perfect reflection of the leaves of brilliant yellow, bright orange and watermelon red tainted slightly by the brown crispness of autumn. Bark Camp Lake will be experiencing intermittent closures during the season due to Forest Service repair on the water system and dam.
Another great option is the Norton Reservoir or High Knob Lake. Make sure to schedule a pilgrimage to the High Knob Tower with its 360-degree view of five states. Pack a light sweater or jacket and be prepared for cooler, crisper autumn air as you enter the mountain top. Icing on the cake is a slight fog encased mountain range, which provides a subdued beauty to the fall brilliance that surrounds the mountain top.
A must stop on the mountain is Flag Rock, where visitors can get up close and personal with Bigfoot. Walk on out the trail for a spectacular view of Flag Rock and the town of Norton below.
One of the most popular viewing spots for autumn color is the Powell Valley Overlook, just outside of Norton. Pull over to the roadside parking lot and walk out onto the ramp for a view of the open, farming valley below.
From Scott County, here are a few possible routes to experience fall color.
Beginning in Gate City, head east on 71 to Nickelsville and turn right onto Big Moccasin, which parallels the Clinch Mountain range. This drive offers views of fall on the Clinch Mountain as well as acres of well-manicured farmlands and homes. Turn left onto Little Duck and follow back to 71 into Nickelsville. Take time to stretch your legs and grab a bite at Teddy’s Restaurant, one of the county’s iconic diner-style restaurants. If you dare, try Teddy’s specialty, the “Gutbuster,” which challenges even the hardiest of men to finish.
Continue back onto 71 and turn right onto Twin Springs Road, which is part of Scott County’s Skull Cracker Motorcycle Route. Once you get on this twisty road, you’ll see how it earned its name. At the bottom of hill sits Bush Mill, established in 1831 on Amos Branch outside of Nickelsville. Stay on Twin Springs until it intersects Sinking Creek Highway in Dungannon.
Turn left and cross the Clinch River and then turn right at the intersection onto Hanging Rock Parkway. Follow the Parkway up the mountain and pass into Wise County. Turn left onto Cordertown Road and travel 1.1 miles and turn left onto Forest Road (FR) 700, which you follow for 1.3 miles and turn left onto FR 701. You have arrived at the top of the Falls of Little Stony, which is just a short trip from the parking lot. Also located in this area is Bear Rock, a mountainous overhang that offers a toe-gripping view of High Knob. Several areas can be accessed from this point, but it is probably best to obtain Google directions for the back Forest Service Roads.
To return to Gate City from here, simply reverse the directions to Hanging Rock Parkway. Once back down the mountain, follow Hanging Rock Parkway straight into the town of Dungannon. The road is now Veteran’s Memorial Highway, which you can follow all the way back to Highway 71 and Gate City.
A secondary route is to take the Clinch River Highway (65) right after passing Mann Farms. Here you will follow the Clinch River and can access one of the county’s swinging bridges in Clinchport, Virginia. Another perfect dining spot is the Front Porch Store & Deli in Ft. Blackmore. The Clinch River Highway ends at Highway 23/58. Here you turn left and back to Gate City.
For a straight shot to High Knob, take 23N towards Norton. Just outside of Duffield, to the left is Kane Gap, one of the original footpaths used by famed Frontiersman Daniel Boone as he blazed the Daniel Boone Wilderness Road. This four-lane highway goes directly to Norton and passes the Powell Valley Overlook, where you want to stop.
Just outside of Norton, follow the signs to High Knob Tower. A fall wandering to Scott County and High Knob is just what the soul needs to fulfill its WanderLove for crisp days and the sound of crunching leaves under your feet.