If you live and hike in the Wise County, Virginia area, you’ve probably heard of the Chief Benge Scout Trail. The region’s only “long” (>15 miles in distance) trail outside of the Pine Mountain Trail, the CBST forms a tour of the High Knob highcountry, running some 19 miles from the High Knob Lookout Tower above Norton, Virginia to Hanging Rock Recreation Area just north of Dungannon. This distance includes just over 16 miles on the CBST itself, with the 3.4 miles of the Little Stony National Recreation Trail added on from the Little Stony Falls to Hanging Rock trailheads. Along the way, the CBST passes everything from sweeping, 360-degree vistas of five states atop High Knob to rugged mountain stream gorges, sluices and waterfalls, two high-elevation lakes, and dense hardwood forests in-between.
To date, though, information on the CBST has been spotty, at best. Perhaps the best map of the trail can be found on the region’s National Geographic Trails Illustrated Clinch Ranger District map, which features the entire length of the trail superimposed over a topographic map of the area. Even this map, though, is at a wide enough resolution to where it can be tough to tell exactly what type of terrain the CBST crosses, where parking exists at road crossings, and where the trail fords larger streams.
As a result of this information gap and increasing requests from local outdoor enthusiasts to improve the information infrastructure for regional trails, we’ve produced a detailed series of maps for the CBST. These maps include an overview of the entire trail and also break the trail into sections complete with detailed topographic maps with road crossings labeled. These maps can be found at the links below:
- Chief Benge Scout Trail Overview Map
- CBST Section 1 (High Knob Tower Trailhead to Mountain Fork (FR-704))
- CBST Section 2 (Mountain Fork (FR-702) to Edith Gap (FR-706))
- CBST Section 3 (Edith Gap (FR-706) to Bark Camp Lake Recreation Area
- CBST Section 4 (Bark Camp Lake Recreation Area to Little Stony Falls Trailhead)
As always, these maps should be used for educational purposes only and should not be used as your sole source for backcountry navigation and trip planning. Instead, plan your trip using information from multiple sources, careful preparation, and good judgment. And, above all, have a great hike!