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Brumley Mountain Trail: Hayter's Gap to Great Channels of VA

Approximately 6-mile roundtrip hike from VA-80 in Hayter's Gap to the Great Channels of Virginia on Middle Knob.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 5.7 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview:  Incredibly scenic hike along Clinch Mountain from Hayter's Gap to Middle Knob along the 14-mile Brumley Mountain Trail, one of the... more »

Tips:  Parking is limited in Hayter's Gap and is located at a small gravel pullout at the gated entrance to Raven Ridge Road. The first... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead and Parking

Trailhead is located at the gated entrance to Raven Ridge Road (at the top of Clinch Mountain on Route 80) and is marked by a limited parking area and kiosk. Trail begins behind the gate and travels initially along Raven Ridge Road.

2. Hayter's Gap

As you swing along the ridgeline on the first few hundred yards of trail, look back towards the parking area in Hayter's Gap.

Hayter's Gap - a low point in the ridgeline making up Clinch Mountain - is an ecologically special place. Several organisms located in the gap and surrounding portions of Clinch Mountain are likely stuck here in "... More

3. Powerline Opening and Vista

This small opening provides one of the first (albeit manmade) vistas in the hike, which looks down into the North Fork Holston River Valley. The trail continues straight ahead on the blazed roadway.

4. Trail Junction

The trail still follows the road straight ahead at this point and does NOT turn right (uphill), when hiking from the Hayter's Gap Trailhead.

5. Cabin and Channels State Forest

Still traveling along the roadbed, the trail passes a cabin in this small flat before shortly passing the entrance to Channels State Forest. This relatively new state forest was purchased from The Nature Conservancy in 2008 and serves as a parcel of public land managed for multiple use (recreation, timber management, and wildlife habitat... More

6. Shallow Gap

This low gap in the ridge forms a loafing point in the climb up Middle Knob and caps an incredibly scenic, ridgeside hike above Eddington Cove. Eddington Branch, which runs through this cove well below the trail, flows into Wolf Creek, which eventually merges with the North Fork Holston River. This stretch of trail contains some of the best fall... More

7. Sandstone Outcrops

Large, exposed sandstone outcrops begin to appear along and beyond this stretch of trail, where a series of switchbacks begins on what will become the final climb towards Middle Knob.

This sandstone formation is nearly 400 million years old and forms a "cap" atop the summit of Middle Knob. This sandstone, in fact, is the same rock that... More

8. Beartown Mountain Vista

As the trail swings around the north slope of the mountain on its approach to the summit, a view is available of Beartown Mountain, the high peak located close to the northeast.

Beartown Mountain is unique for its spruce forest, one of the only such forests located to the west of the Great Valley (where I-81 runs) in Virginia and visible as the ... More

9. Scenic Vista

Hidden just off a spur trail before the final pitch up to the tower on Middle Knob is a scenic vista atop a series of exposed boulders just below the knob's summit. They provide a rare view to the southeast off of Middle Knob, including much of the mountainside you have traveled to reach this point in the hike.

10. Middle Knob Firetower

The trail reaches its high point (4208 feet above sea level) at the pinnacle of sandstone near this point, also known as Middle Knob. From vistas located at multiple vantage points atop the knob, one can see all the way to Mount Rogers (the highest point in Virginia) to the south and the Cumberland Plateau to the northwest. The great expanse of... More

11. Great Channels of Virginia

The main feature of this hike - the Great Channels of Virginia - can be found by hiking the short spur trail located just beyond the firetower atop Middle Knob (on the opposite side of the tower from the warden's cabin).

The Great Channels themselves are a labyrinth of cave-like crevices occurring deep between blocks of the 400 million year-old... More

12. Scenic Vista

Before or after dropping down into the Great Channels, (carefully!) hop over onto the top of the nearest boulder to see one of southwest Virginia's most beautiful mountain vistas. The boulders here look down the spine of Clinch Mountain to the south and west, providing a view of the low expanse of the Great Valley (near Abingdon and Bristol), with... More

13. Brumley Mountain Trail Continuation

The Brumley Mountain Trail continues west beyond the spur trail to the summit of Middle Knob and the Great Channels. Shortly west of the spur trail, a trail descends from a gap in the ridgeline to the North-South Road, a route that provides a longer (5-mile one-way) hike to the foot of the mountain and a parking area in the Channels State Forest. ... More