The Channels Natural Area Preserve
The Channels Natural Area Preserve is a 721-acre Natural Area Preserve located just 45 minutes from Abingdon, VA.
A 3-mile hike in on an old logging road brings you to the Great Channels of Virginia, impressive formations of 400-million-year-old sandstone outcroppings. Geologists conclude that the Channels were likely formed while the high-elevation sandstone cap was under the influence of permafrost and ice wedging during the last ice age. These forces shattered and enlarged joints in the sandstone caprock.
The hike also includes views of the Clinch Mountain range, and the remains of a fire tower (not open to the public), as well as rare and imperiled plant species protected by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The Brumley Gap trail is a 7-mile in and out hike. Find multiple parking locations off of the Brumley Gap Road entrance.
Hiking information, courtesy of Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club.
Follow curvy Rte. 80 north from Meadowview to the small parking area at the Washington/Russell County line.
Walk through the gate and up the fire road from the parking area.
At ¾ mile, the fire road turns right. Stay straight on the trail, passing a cabin and picnic area in another ¼ mile. In another ½ mile, enjoy unobstructed views to the right.
At 2 ¼ miles, reach a sandstone outcropping. Continue, following the switchbacks on the trail, reaching the Great Channels Trail to the left in another ½ mile. You will reach the summit shortly after, at 3 miles from the start of the hike. On the flat rocks is the remains of the old fire tower shelter and the fire tower itself.
Just past the fire tower is a trail downhill into the woods to the entrance to the Great Channels, a maze of large rocks and short trails.
Download a trail map from the Virginia Department of Forestry (PDF)