Hike the Great Channels

Virginia Great Channels of Virginia

Added by Elyse Clark

The Great Channels of Virginia are a maze of 400 million year old large sandstone blocks with crevices 30-40 feet deep that you are able to walk through and explore. One of the most unique places in Virginia, this is a hike you don't want to miss.

Park at the parking lot at the crest of Clinch Mountain at Hayters Gap on Rt. 80, and walk along the road (Raven Ridge Road) behind the gate. The trail is fairly easy with minimum elevation gain and follows an old road bed almost the whole way. Be sure to keep to the left when the road splits and cross into "Channels State Forest".

The trail is easy and well-marked, and will soon lead you to the top of the mountain at Middle Knob. Atop the knob (4,208') is an old retired fire tower and a great view of Beartown Mountain. Continue over the boulders past the fire tower to follow the spur trail into the woods for the Great Channels.

As the main attraction of this hike, spend some time exploring the maze of sandstone rocks. Geologists think these formations occurred due to continuous freezing and thawing over time to create these large cracks in the rock.

Once finished exploring, retrace your steps back to the fire tower and down the mountain back to Hayter's Gap for a 6.0 mile round trip.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Sturdy hiking shoes
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Snacks and/or lunch
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Fitness, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



6 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1200 Feet



Easy Parking

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How to Get There

2 months ago

Second Hike Up

I had forgotten how far it seems to be to the top. It took my friend an I about an hour and a half to make it. It saddens me that the fire tower is inaccessible but the view is absolutely incredible from the top of the rocks. Use caution when actually exploring within the rocks though it is quite easy to get disoriented.

2 months ago

Added by Elyse Clark

Explorer. Hiker. Photographer.

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