The Chief Benge Scout Trail in far Southwest Virginia is a great midsummer hike. It starts atop Stone Mountain, but the majority of miles are along one creek or another, each with small ripples and a profusion of wading holes. Even if you don’t take advantage of these to cool off, you will ford them more than two dozen times, so you’ll probably be happy that summer has raised the water temperature. Although a couple of miscreants burned the lookout tower atop 4,162-foot High Knob at the beginning of the hike (thankfully they received five and three year prison sentences and must pay more than $1 million in restitution), you may still be able to obtain a grand view of the surrounding mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia on clear days.
The descending 16-mile trail can be a long day hike or an easy overnight trek, with the option of choosing a backcountry site or staying in one of two developed forest service campgrounds. The first is only one mile into the hike, so you should probably plan on the Bark Camp Recreation Area about ten miles into the journey.
A detailed description may be found in my book, 50 Hikes in Southern Virginia, or Bill and Mary Burnham’s Hiking Virginia.
OK, for the last few months I’ve been telling you about hikes, but a blog is supposed to be interactive, so it’s time for you to let me know about some of your favorite hikes in the Blue Ridge. Send the information to [email protected] and provide me with enough details so that others will know where it is and what makes it special. If I use your hike, you’ll be entered into a drawing (to be done within the next year) to receive a copy of my newest book, Images of America: Along Virginia’s Appalachian Trail, which will be published later this fall.