Hike the Great Channels



6 miles

Elevation Gain

1200 ft

Route Type


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.

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Know for

Easy Parking



Leave a Review

Great place to hike

The parking area off Rt. 80 and the trail are well maintained. The hike is not overly difficult, and my 5 year old sister was able to walk the entire way. The top has so much to explore from the rocks to the view. I would recommend this hike to anyone. This is one of the few trails I don’t get tired of and am always down to hike again.


The trail is well kept and maintained. I was a little disappointed. The channels were nice, but not exactly what I expected.

Worth the work

This hike was everything we expected. We spent over an hour at the top exploring the channels, a must if your ever in the area!


about 4 years ago

So Different And Awesome

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!

Loved It

Simple hike, great view, amazing formations

446 total saves


Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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