The Great Virginia Channels

Mike and I

October 3, 2020

The Channels are in the Channels Natural Preserve area near Abingdon Va. We decided to hike this hike on Saturday and according to my google search there are only 10 parking spots available. When I asked our waitress about this she said this has been since the trails re-opened due to Covid. There are more parking spaces near by but they changed them all to no parking and no parking on the road to keep the traffic down. We left our hotel at 6 am. and arrived at the trailhead before the sun came up. It was just daybreak when we started walking. We were the only ones there.

The trail is basically all uphill for the next 4 miles. It is doable steady incline. Google said it was a 1300 ft elevation gain. It is a wide well maintained trail without a lot of rocks and roots.

After a bit there is a gate. It isn’t locked but its closed. We went around it and kept hiking. After about a mile there is a house on the hill to the right then a little farther up there is 2 cabins on a big newly cleared piece of property right on the trail.

Channels cabins

We kept walking and it is now straight daylight. A local man and his kid walk by us and stop to chat. He explains how the channels were formed and that you used to be able to walk across the top of them and look down but they have that section closed. We did not see where he was talking about but it sounded pretty cool. There is also another trail that you can take that goes beyond the Channels but that was for another day.

We arrived at the old fire tower. It would be nice if they would re-do it so people can go up but it has old wooden stairs and a wooden floor at the top. They have taken the bottom 2 rows of stairs off and its probably best because it didn’t look very safe.

The trail beyond the tower is just a short hike to the Channels. They were so very unique. It was formed back during the ice age 400 million years ago! It is a 20 acre maze of huge sandstone. Google says it sandstone is soft and the ice wedging split large seams in it. What ever happened it sure was awesome.

Google also says be carful not to get lost but I’m not sure you could get lost. We kept going in circles trying to make sure we went down every side path. Now if you are more adventurous then me there are some dark cave-ish areas to be explored.

After wondering around for a while we went back up to the fire tower to have lunch. Then made the 4 mile trip down. As we were walking a black Ford F150 came up the road and I stopped him to ask if he owned those cabins. He did. He said one was 100 years old. He was remodeling them and adding Solar power and would be renting them on AirBnB soon. They will be called Channel Cabins. We chatted with him for a long time. He invited us back up there for a tour but we had decided we were heading out for a second hike.

As we walked down to the parking lot we counted the number of people coming up. We determined the parking lot would be full. When we got there the parking lot was full. There were 2 vehicles waiting for a spot and the Ranger was there ready to write a ticket. We told the one vehicle a couple we passed would be down shortly and the other guy he could have our spot.

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