PRELIMINARY OVERVIEW OF EXISTING AND PROPOSED TRAILS
IN WISE COUNTY
Counties: Wise (Also City of Norton, Lee, Dickenson, Buchanan, Tazewell)
Public Trail system already exists in Wise Co as part of Mountain View ATV Club. Over 200 miles classified as “multi-use”.
Potential for developing additional motorized trails similar to WV Hatfield & McCoy Trail System.
Bike Route & Scenic Drive:
Heart of Appalachia Bike Route
Counties: Wise/Tazewell http://www.virginia.org/site/description.asp?AttrID=15992. The Heart of Appalachia Bike Route runs from Burke's Garden in Tazewell County to Guest River Gorge in Wise County on roughly half paved/half gravel roads. This 125 mile (with 40 miles of side trails) back road and back country biking excursion. This route offers back roads, rails to trails, single track, historic sites, a natural preserve area, wilderness area, Amish general store, a pub, a swinging bridge, three scenic rivers, farms and coal country, and gorgeous views in Virginia's least crowded, friendliest region, the far southwestern counties of Tazewell, Bland, Russell, and Wise.
This route crosses the Trans-America bike route along Route 80 in Russell Co.
Big Stone Gap provides biking opportunity in the mountains, The Heart of Appalachia Bike Route and Scenic Drive begins from Burke's Garden in Tazewell County to the Guest River Gorge in Wise County 128 miles of breathtaking scenery!
Located in Big Stone Gap in Southwest Virginia. Bullitt Park is the largest of nine community parks operated by the Big Stone Gap Department of Parks and Recreation. The park includes a football field, tennis courts, fitness and biking trails, large playground, picnic areas, pavilions and a track. Serving as a park since 1935, it is the site for many community activities such as singing conventions, band festivals and craft shows. Bullitt Park was named for Joshua Taggart Bullitt, an early entrepreneur, land speculator and coal mining baron.
Currently closed due to arson but worth noting: High Knob Observation Tower, at an elevation of 4,162 feet, offers a spectacular panoramic view of the mountains of Southwest Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina. The octagonal tower, built in a clearing atop the mountain, has a fieldstone base level and two wooden levels circled by observation decks. Mountain ranges in the distance are visible for miles. There are discussions of rebuilding the structure in the near future. The trails are open.
Description: Two trails are marked with yellow paint at the tower entrance. A 1.3 mile trail leads to High Knob Lake at the Recreation Area. Or for the more adventuresome, a 19.2 mile trail leads Hanging Rock Recreational area on the Mountain Fork Trail. Found note in publication of choice of hiking trails from 1.5 miles to 22 miles long. Might need to research further to see if there are additional trails.
Primitive atmosphere for camping and picnicking. Accessible by boat or foot trail only.
The trail is 1.5 miles long and is difficult requiring some skill and challenge to travel. Beautiful scenery (small waterfalls, geological formations, a variety of vegetation) and uncrowded conditions.
Excellent base camp to explore upper reaches of Cumberland Mountain using old roads, logging trams and existing trails.
Lake Shore Trail
at Bark Camp Lake
Exists (VA Web)
County: Wise http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/gwj/clinch/recreation/hiking/bark_camp_trail.shtml Lake Shore Trail is a 3.7 mile easy trail that begins at the boat launch ramp at Bark Camp Lake, turn toward the dam, following the foot trail. The trail takes one across the dam and around the lake and ends in the Bark Camp Lake parking lot (a loop trail). Intersects with Chief Benge Scout Trail. Heavy use around the recreational area. Light use on rest of trail.
The 15.7 mile Chief Benge Scout Trail starts at High Knob Observation Tower follow signs and ends at Little Stony National Recreation Trail which continues 3 miles further to Hanging Rock Picnic Area at Dungannon, VA. It tends to follow the meandering Mountain Fork and Little Stony Creek as it threads its way through the mountains of Wise and Scott counties. The trail links the cool waters of High Knob Lake with 30-foot falls, rapids, and small pools on the Little Stony. The trail follows old railroad grades at river level but makes several steep climbs. Trail heads with parking are located at each end of trail. Trail is noted as difficult due to steep terrains on portions of the trail.
Noted that in 2009, $400,000 was awarded to do work on trail. Need verification.
Map [Fig. 12(6)] The Chief Benge Scout Trail is a fairly difficult and mountainous 19.6 miles, but it offers more than ample rewards. It takes off from the High Knob observation tower through lush, waist-high carpets of jewelweed. The Scout Trail winds across knobs and through hollows, beside rushing streams and along canopied paths of Catawba rhododendron and mountain laurel. The lower end connects with Little Stony National Recreation Trail [Fig. 12(2)], and continues 3 miles to Hanging Rock at Dungannon. The trail provides an excellent opportunity for a two- or three-day backpacking trip. Anglers should pack a rod if they would like to catch stocked trout from Mountain Fork or Little Stony Creek. Or hikers can approach the trail in sections by leaving a second car at one of several access roads.
Chief Benge was a fierce Indian leader who terrorized southwest Virginia's early white settlers. He took savage umbrage at those who wanted to shove his people from their ancestral mountains west into flat, hot Oklahoma territory.
Trail: 19.6-mile winding path.
Elevation: 4,200 feet at High Knob to 2,350 feet at lower trailhead.
Degree of difficulty: Difficult because of length and uneven terrain.
[Fig. 12(21)] The soothing sound of water cascading over rocks. Quiet pools beneath virgin hemlocks. Expansive vistas from remote overlooks on Little Mountain. Rewards such as these await those who tackle the tough hikes of this trail system southwest of High Knob.
The Devils Bathtub Trail goes up Devils Fork along an old railroad grade once used for carrying logs and coal from the slopes of Little Mountain. As hikers cross back and forth across the stream, they pass through old growth hemlock stands, see a rusting, abandoned railroad car, and watch water racing down rock chutes and swirling through the rock tub that gives the trail its name.
After 1.5 miles, at the Devils Bathtub, the hiker can double back to the parking lot or continue westward, following the Devils Fork Loop Trail up Corder Hollow to a 20-foot waterfall, passing many hollows and beautiful views. After 4.2 miles (5.7 miles from the start), the loop trail connects with Straight Fork Ridge Trail. The hiker can go left on this trail for 1.8 miles up Little Mountain to the upper trailhead at FR 237, or go right 1.6 miles down the mountain to finish the loop at the parking lot.
The lack of facilities and the rugged terrain make this an ideal trail for those who like a more remote experience. Two primitive camping areas (no water) are available on the loop trail, one at the lower west end and one about .7 mile west of the connection with the Straight Fork Ridge Trail.
Directions: From Fort Blackmore, in central Scott County, go north on VA 619 for 2.9 miles to junction with VA 653. Continue north on VA 619 for 1.1 miles and turn left on FR 619 at white house with fenced yard and go .3 mile to trailhead parking. To access northern trailhead for Straight Fork Ridge Trail from VA 619 at High Knob, go southwest on FR 237 for 4 miles to trailhead.
Trails: Devils Bathtub Trail is 1.5-mile (one-way) path along old railroad grade, with 10 crossings of Devil Fork. Devils Loop combines Devils Bathtub Trail with 6-mile rigorous climb and descent on Little Mountain back to trailhead at parking lot. Straight Fork Ridge Trail leads from northeast point of Devils Fork Loop 2 miles up scenic ridge to FR 237 on Little Mountain.
Elevation: Lower trailhead is at 1,550 feet. Highest points are 2,000 feet on Devils Bathtub Trail, 2,800 feet on Devils Loop Trail, and 3,350 feet where Straight Fork Ridge Trail connects with FR 237.
Degree of difficulty: Moderate, with many stream crossings (which may be treacherous) on Devils Bathtub Trail, and moderate to difficult (because of steep sections) on Devils Loop and Straight Fork Ridge trails.
Surface: Natural forest floor with many stream crossings.
Rails to trails project that follows an old railroad right of way paralleling the Guest River, a Virginia Scenic River. This picturesque 5.8-mile rail-trail follows the old Norfolk-Southern railroad route once used to haul coal. The trail passes through Swede Tunnel, built in 1922 and over a number of trestles. This portion of the Guest River is designated a State Scenic River. Hikers, bicyclists, anglers, canoeists, and kayakers are invited to enjoy the scenery and interesting geology of the gorge. The trailhead features paved parking and restrooms.
Serious hikers or horseback riders will love this scenic trail which follows the crest of the Cumberland Mountains dividing Virginia and Kentucky for 26 miles from Pound Gap in Wise County to Potter's Flats in the Breaks Interstate Park. Trailhead parking available for horse trailers. The trail requires map reading and safety skills. At least 7 access points exists off St. Rt. 630 and 611. Join us for our annual trail rides the 2nd weekend in May and the second weekend in October. When complete, the Pine Mountain Horse Trail will connect Breaks Interstate Park with the Pound Reservoir in Wise County.
Dan Hall Resort
County: Wise www.virginiagolf.com/danhall.html
Horse back riding through Mountain Trails. Also full resort and golf course.
Public Fishing Lakes:
Bark Camp Lake
Public Fishing Lakes: Keokee Lake
Public Fishing Lakes: High Knob Lake
Stocked lake. Fishing is permitted with a Virginia license and a Forest Service Stamp.
Public Fishing Lakes: North Fork of Pound Reservoir
Fish population in the lake includes largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and sunfish. The lake is stocked by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Rail to Trail:
Guest River Scenic
(Rail to Trail)
Rails to trails project that follows an old railroad right of way paralleling the Guest River, a Virginia Scenic River. Trout fishing is permitted in the river, as well as kayacking and canoeing. During the early 1900's when timber and coal were being hauled out of the remote areas of Dickenson County, this passage was used as a rail line. The history of the Gorge shows that millions of years ago the Guest River eroded a passage through Stone Mountain on its way to join the Clinch River. Cutting through massive rock, it opened a deep rock corridor that is a scenic wonder. Many other curiosities exist along the six mile trail, including an old railroad tunnel, bridges using the remaining railroad trestles, waterfalls and rock outcroppings.
The camp offers 25 camping units with tent pad, picnic table and parking spur near 60 acre warm water lake which provides opportunities for fishing and boating (electric motors only). Paved boat launching ramp, hiking trails and picnic units with tables and grills are also features of the site.
The lake was constructed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and is stocked with northern pike, bass, blue gill, rainbow trout and catfish. Two handicapped accessible fishing piers have been constructed with a handicapped trail on the northern shoreline below the parking lot.
TRAILS ARE OPEN. At an elevation of 3,800 feet, High Knob Recreation Area is the highest campground in the Clinch Ranger District of the Jefferson National Forest. The main attraction at the site is High Knob Lake, a 4 acre cold water lake with a 300 ft. sand swimming beach. A small amphitheater is located on a hillside behind the beach house. The lake is stocked and fishing is permitted with a Virginia license and a Forest Service Stamp. Several trails can be accessed from the campground. Camping area includes 14 sites for tents and recreational vehicles (up to 16 feet long) with picnic tables, bath house with showers, and flush toilets.
From the recreation area, hike the High Knob Tower Trail (< 1.5 miles) to the observation tower. Atop this summit, standing at 4220 feet, a clear sky can produce views of the surrounding mountain ridges in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. Note: the observation tower burned down recently and is inaccessible to visitors at this time (updated 12/19/07).
Recreation Area & Fishing:
North Fork of
Built in 1966 as authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1960, the 154 acre lake is used for fishing, boating, camping, picnicking, hiking, and municipal water supply. Picnic area overlooks reservoir and is complete with restroom facility. The reservoir is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, but most of the developed recreation sites are managed by the Jefferson National Forest. Fish population in the lake includes: largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and sunfish. The lake is stocked by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Cane Patch campground is the center of the recreation activity on the lake. It has 33 camping sites with restrooms, showers and playground equipment. The Laurel Fork campgrounds provide a more primitive atmosphere for campers and is only accessible by boat.
Ropes Course: Appalachian Wilderness Adventure Program
The museum is housed in a mansion built in the 1880s by Rufus Ayers, a Virginia attorney general. The museum was bequeathed to the commonwealth in 1946 by C. Bascom Slemp, private secretary to President Calvin Coolidge and a member of the U. S. Congress. The museum was officially dedicated by the state in 1948. It features a collection comprised of more than 20,000 pieces, about one third of which is on display at any given time. The museum chronicles the exploration and development of the region during the 1890s coal boom, as well as the pioneer period. It offers activities for kids, scout and school programs, workshops, an annual Festival of Trees program, a quilt show, a music festival and outdoor exhibits. The museum sells archival supplies and offers the opportunity to have pictures of collection pieces copied, as well as copies of reference files. Also offered is a unique gift shop and a Victorian Parlor Conference Room available for rent by calling the museum.
Trails: The museum is an Audubon Bird Sanctuary, and many various songbirds can be seen on the grounds. A permanent outdoor exhibit, the Southwest Virginia Walk of Fame, showcases the region’s heritage. The exhibit advances the knowledge, awareness and appreciation of renowned Southwest Virginians, past and present, who have made significant contributions to the commonwealth, the nation and the world.
Statewide trunkline trails: Great Eastern Trail
In the works (288)
Counties: Wise/Lee/Dickenson/Buchanan. In the works Great Eastern Trail - Major trunkline trail traverses the northern border of Virginia and connect with trails in both Alabama and New York. Anticipated to use the Cumberland Mountain Trail which comes out of Tennessee at the Cumberland Gap, cuts west to connect with the Pine Mountain Trail on its way to Breaks Interstate Park then continues northeast across the state.
Pine Mountain Trail, when complete, will stretch nearly 120 miles to connect Breaks Interstate Park to the Cumberland Gap National Park in Kentucky as part of the Great Eastern Trail. The section in Virginia will connect Breaks to the Pound Reservoir in Wise County.
Virginia Birding & Wildlife Trail: Appalachian Wonders Loop VBWT