The Channels of Virginia

The Channels Natural Area Preserve, commonly referred to as “The Channels,” is a unique rock formation located in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, specifically in the Clinch Mountain range. It is part of the Channels State Forest and is managed by the Virginia Department of Forestry. The Channels is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts due to its fascinating geology and stunning vistas. The Channels were formed millions of years ago through a combination of natural processes, including the erosion of sandstone and shale rock layers. The force of ice, water, and wind carved out deep crevices and narrow passages, creating the maze-like rock formation that exists today.

The Channels located 45 miles from Abingdon is a must do. Here are my lessons learned. Our GPS brought us to the other side of the channels where you end up on a gravel road leading to a grass parking lot. If you want to hike 12 miles EACH way this is your spot otherwise park in the paved parking lot with 10 marked spaces for a 6-7 mile roundtrip trek. This caused a 30 minute delay driving to the other lot. We had read online about parking and ironically both lots were similar ie small parking lot of 10 spaces and extra parking in a nearby church parking lot.  Parking lot coordinates: 36°51’52.2″N 81°56’49.1″W

There are a couple of choices to be made along the route. Veer left both times. You will be walking on a gravel road along private cabins and a retreat center. I have uploaded the yolks in the road always choose left. 🙂 We found the tower before we found The Channels not sure if we took a wrong turn or there are several options leading in and out of the area. We walked behind the tower and to the right to a/the trail. I have enclosed the picture.


My fitbit displayed 3.78 miles one way and my partners was 4.25. We spent about an hour walking around the maze and eating lunch. The elevation is 2600 ft increase so I paced myself. I also attached the rocky slope for your review. I should have brought poles. The path is wide for the lion’s share of the trail to walk abreast. Lastly let’s skip to the good part, the pictures.  This hike is worth it add it to your bucket list. This journey took us a little over 4 hours. We met other cool kids along the way and walked down the mountain with a new friend.