Phillips Creek Loop Trail

Length/Type: Approximately 1.2 miles, lollipop loop; Difficulty: Moderate (easy grades but possible heavy undergrowth can obscure the trail in places during late summer/fall); Other Considerations: The trailhead is located at the back of the Phillips Creek Recreation Area, which may be gated in winter months. You can still park outside the rec area (do not block the gate…

Winter Wonderland: Trails to Try This Season in the Cumberlands

The winter hiking season is upon us, a time when many folks hang up their hiking boots and enjoy the warmth of the indoors. If you’ve never been hiking during what many hikers refer to as the “leaf off” season, though, you’ve been missing out. Views through bare trees are more expansive, skies are clearer…

Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve (Copper Ridge Trail and Overlook)

Length/Type: Approximately 2.0 miles one-way, out-and-back; Difficulty: Easy to strenuous (easy grades and footing along Big Cedar Creek, with a strenuous climb to gain Copper Ridge); Other Considerations: The Pinnacle has multiple trail options beyond the one described here, which can be pieced together into a longer day hike, if desired. A detailed trail map is available via the Virginia DCR website. Pinnacle…

Pine Mountain Trail: Birch Knob to Jenny Falls

Length/Type: Approximately 1.0 miles one-way, out-and-back; Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous (very steep climbs and poor footing in places, yet short overall); Other Considerations: The trailhead is located at the end of a long and rough gravel road that travels to just below the Birch Knob summit. While this road is navigable with care with even a…

New maps for the Chief Benge Scout Trail

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…

Big Falls and the Pinnacle (Pinnacle State Natural Area Preserve)

Length/Type: Approximately 1.8 miles one-way, out-and-back; Difficulty: Easy to moderate (easy grades and footing; well-maintained trails); Other Considerations: The Pinnacle has multiple trail options beyond the one described here, which can be pieced together into a longer day hike, if desired. A detailed trail map is available via the Virginia DCR website. Out of all the counties in Southwest Virginia, Russell County…

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…

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…