Hike the Great Channels

Virginia Great Channels of Virginia

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    6 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1200 Feet

Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers

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
Read More

Reviews

Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

If you are in SW VA, I think this is a must-do. Hike gets steep at times but it is straight forward walking. The trail is wide and footing is easy. After a week of rain, it was muddy however. After 3 miles the trail opens up to the rocky top with the destroyed shelter and old old fire tower. Behind the fire tower is a small trail that leads into the channels. The light makes the moss granite almost glow as you check out the labyrinth of mini slot canyons. Head back out and up one of the boulders on your way out for the views from the top. Just be careful not to fall back into the crevasses!

4 months ago
4 months ago

Simple hike, great view, amazing formations

11 months ago
11 months ago

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.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Elyse ClarkExplorer

Explorer. Hiker. Photographer.

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Hike Limberlost Trail in Shenandoah National Park

Virginia / Limberlost Trail, Shenandoah National Park

The Limberlost Trail is a loop trail within Shenandoah National Park.

8 Saves

Hike to White Rock Falls

Virginia / White Rock Falls Trailhead

Park in The Slacks Overlook parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway, around milepost 20. From there exit the parking lot back onto the road and head left.

27 Saves

Photograph Range View Overlook

Virginia / Range View Overlook

Range View Overlook in Shenandoah National Park is an amazing spot to watch the sunrise and sunset where the Blue Ridge Mountains meet the rolling hills.

34 Saves