WanderLove is about reconnecting with what you love. Experience the mountains and valleys, natural preserves, and all of the winding roads in between when you road trip through Russell County, Va.
As one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, you’ll find unique ecosystems and abundant outdoor recreation in southwestern Virginia. Discover the best spots to play, eat, and stay in this guide to Russell County.
Go Outside and Play
Start off with a visit to Oxbow Lake Park where you’ll find extensive hiking and biking trails located adjacent to the Clinch River. Follow the Sugar Hill Loop Trail as it steeply climbs the ridge before curving around to the lake. The Oxbow Lake Trail offers a paved, wheelchair-accessible loop around the water. Hook up with Clinch River Adventures for kayak and tube rentals on the river or Clinch Life Outfitters for guided kayaking and fishing trips along the river. Then drive into the town of St. Paul for some local eateries and a brewery.
Make a trip to the renowned Tank Hollow Falls in the small town of Cleveland. This short, half mile trail is good for hikers of all abilities and features a 60-foot waterfall on the very edge of town. Explore more of the Cleveland Barrens Natural Area Preserve on the Big Barren Loop Trail with overlooks of the river and valley. Be on the lookout for a series of significant dolomite barrens, thirteen rare plant species, and three rare insect species while you’re visiting the preserve. To complete your visit to Cleveland, visit the town park, cross the pedestrian suspension bridge over the Clinch River, and take the boardwalk through the woods. Spend the night at the Cleveland Riverbend Campground, which offers both primitive and RV camping access along the banks of the Clinch River.
The Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve is a wonderful way to enjoy the river and beautiful plant life. Open year-round from sunrise to sunset, the public facilities include parking, a suspension foot-bridge, and hiking trails. Experience all of the spectacular features of this preserve located near the confluence of the Clinch River and Big Cedar Creek, including towering cliffs, sheer limestone ledges, and waterfalls. The Pinnacle, an impressive rock formation cut from dolomite, rises 400 feet above the creek.
After exploring this natural area, head over to the town of Lebanon to find restaurants, a brewery, and a vineyard while you enjoy the mountainous views. You can make a stop at the local Love sign just off of Main Street as well. There are also two chain hotels in town if you plan to stay awhile.
Not far from the town of Lebanon, the Channels Natural Area Preserve is part of a state forest located atop Brumley Mountain near the 4,208 ft. summit of Middle Knob on Clinch Mountain. The Great Channels of Virginia are 400 million-year-old sandstone outcroppings likely formed while under the influence of permafrost and ice wedging.
If biking is your thing, explore part of the TransAmerica Bike Route as it passes through the county. This 4,250 mile stretches from the Oregon coast to the Virginia coast. Take in the rolling countryside and valley views from your saddle as you bike the backroads.
Spend some time in the small town of Honaker, The Redbud Capital of the World. During the spring, the beautiful redbud trees come to life just in time for their annual Redbud Festival in April. Get pictures at the LOVE sign, enjoy the local restaurants, and rent kayaks or tubes from Clinch River Outfitters.
Take pictures with the LOVEwork at the Old Russell County Courthouse created by a welding class from the local career and technical center. If you are looking for a little coal mining and railroad history, visit the Dante Coal and Railroad Museum and Love sign crafted out of material from the railroad nearby. The community is also in the process of building a walking trail just across from the museum.
Experience WanderLove for yourself when you visit Russell County, Va.
Please check local guidelines and regulations before making plans to get outside. Remember to practice social distancing guidelines, wear a mask, and respect others’ health when outside.