Hike Buchanan County, Virginia

From the scenic mountains and lush forestland to the flowing waters, Buchanan County, Va. is the perfect fall getaway for hiking and wildlife viewing. 

The Coal Canyon Trail System offers 114 miles of multi-use trails. Hikers, bikers, and UTV drivers can expect a variety of easy, moderate, and hard trails to get outside and test their skills. This system boasts a total of more than 200 connected miles of trail around the county and surrounding area for multiple full days of fun. 

Straddling the Virginia-Kentucky border, you’ll find an additional 25 miles of hiking trails at Breaks Interstate Park. Referred to as the Grand Canyon of the South, take in the wonder of the Russell Fork running through the five-mile gorge. Discover other activities in the park, including mountain bike rentals, geocaching, fishing, and more.

Southern Gap Visitor Center, photo courtesy Buchanan County

While you’re in the area, take some time to watch the elk from one of the public wildlife viewing shelters near the Southern Gap Visitor Center. In 2012, 71 elk were reintroduced to the area after an almost 100-year absence. Today, that population has expanded to several hundred elk. The best time to visit is sunrise or sunset when these magnificent animals are the most active. Don’t forget about the Southern Gap Elk Fest, celebrating all things wildlife and mountain culture, October 14-17, 2020. 

Stop by the new visitor center for interactive wildlife displays and an observation deck with panoramic views of the mountains. Additionally, several all-purpose trails start from the parking lot, giving nature lovers the chance to watch for the 220 bird species that call the county home and beautiful views of the night sky. Cabins, RV hookups, and campsites are open for those who want to stay close to the action.

The waters of Buchanan County offer a variety of recreational opportunities. Head to the Levisa River for some terrific smallmouth bass fishing from the river’s banks or Dismal Creek for stocked rainbow trout. Kayak or whitewater raft sections of the Russell Fork that feature class V rapids on the weekends of October. 

The best time to see the elk in Buchanan County is sunrise or sunset when these magnificent animals are the most active. Photo courtesy Buchanan County

Après Hike

Head into the town of Grundy at the end of the day for a variety of delicious dining options. This fall, immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of “Wild” Buchanan County and experience the natural wonder of the mountains. 


Places to Go, Things to See: