Chadwell Gap to Hensley Settlement (Cumberland Gap NHP)

Length/Type: Approximately 4.0 miles one-way, out-and-back; Difficulty: Strenuous (very steep, sustained climbs and rugged to unstable footing at times); Other Considerations: This hike climbs nearly 2,000 vertical feet and contains extremely difficult grades both ascending and descending. Be sure to allow adequate time to make this trip as a dayhike, as progress can be slow across many of the…

Bad Branch Falls and High Rock

Length/Type: Approximately 3.0 miles one-way, out-and-back (optional loop on top of the ridge); Difficulty: Difficult to Strenuous (steep grades and rugged footing); Other Considerations: Upper portion of the trail connects to the 42 mile-long Pine Mountain Trail, providing longer possible day hike or overnight options. A detailed trail map is available via the preserve’s website. When most hikers think about…

Guest River Gorge Trail

Length/Type: Approximately 5.5 miles one way, out-and-back; Difficulty: Easy (slight grades and wide, crushed-gravel trailbed; moderate if traveling all the way to the end of the trail and returning); Other Considerations: this is a multiuse trail open to both mountain bikers and hikers. Horses are not allowed, and the only trailhead is located at the trail’s northern end (no…

Sugar Hill Loop Trail

Length/Type: Approximately 3.3 mile loop; Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (one steep grade); Other Considerations: multiple other trail options exist at the Sugar Hill Trail System, including a trail connecting the loop described here with the Bluebell Island Preserve in St. Paul. A smartphone-based guide for this trail is also available here. The Clinch River is quickly becoming one of Southwest Virginia’s…

Little Stony National Recreation Trail

Length/Type: Approximately 2.7 miles one way, out-and-back; Difficulty: Moderate (some rocky/uneven sections); Other Considerations: trailhead parking is available at both the lower and upper ends of the trail and provides the opportunity for a shuttle hike. A smartphone-based guide for this trail is also available here. Most residents of Southwest Virginia have heard of Little Stony Falls….

Devil’s Bathtub (Devil’s Fork Loop Trail)

Length/Type: Approximately 3 miles, out-and-back (strenuous 7-mile loop option available); Difficulty: Strenuous (multiple technical stream crossings, dangerous in high water conditions); Other Considerations: parking and access are currently a challenge at the trailhead – see directions at the end of this post for details and a list of alternative hikes located close-by for when the…