137 miles through the Heart of Appalachia to the Grand Canyon of the South, Breaks Interstate Park.
The Heart Breaker takes you right through the Heart of Appalachia to Breaks Interstate Park which boasts the “Grand Canyon of the South.” You may want to go straight to the office book your room because taking in the Breaks can take a quite a while. This “must see scenery” gives you a birds-eye view of the immense, spectacular gorge that stretches 5 miles long and plunges over 1600 feet, and is renowned as the largest east of the Mississippi. Regardless of the season, Breaks offers visitors stunning vistas every day of the year. For the adventurer, the Breaks offers hiking and mountain biking trails, pedal boats, canoes, Elk viewing tours, geocaching, an amphitheater, special events and even whitewater rafting during certain times of the year.
Your travels will be taking you near the John Flannagan Dam which offers some of the best fishing anywhere in Virginia. Three state record catches have been established from its waters. If you’re ready to stretch your legs, Birch Knob is happy to oblige. About the time you start to wonder why you began to ascend the 183 steps to the observation platform, you reach the top and your question is answered. At 3,144 ft above sea level, your view spans Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and on a clear day, Ohio.
Heading west from the Breaks, you’ll pass through charming towns worth seeing, Haysi, Clintwood, and Coeburn, where mountain music carries on a rich tradition. Clintwood is the home of the Ralph Stanley Museum which weaves the life of Dr. Ralph Stanley with the history of traditional mountain music through a state of the art, interactive museum, allowing you to experience this unique musical style in its original setting, the mountains of Virginia. For a super unique experience, you can spend the night at the museum!!
You can grab some pizza or wings at Big Boys as you walk the boulevard in quaint Coeburn. If you’re in town on Thursday nights, you can get another helping of traditional mountain music at the historic Lay’s Hardware. It won’t be long before someone teaches you to flat foot. Just down the road is the Guest River Gorge, offering a 5.8 mile trail winding its way among 300 million year old cliff lines and rock outcrops.
St. Paul is a great town to explore by foot, float, or four-wheel. There are hiking trails through historic settlements, outfitters offering tubes and kayaks on the world renowned Clinch River, and even Spearhead Trails’ Mountain View OHV system connects to downtown. This is a place you’ll want to stay a while – and stop by to say hello when you’re here. The Heart of Appalachia Visitor Center is right near the Farmer’s Market. We’ve got lots of regional info and free Wi-Fi.
If you looked up the definition of a “Ma & Pa type place” there would be a picture of Ma & Pa’s Restaurant in the Dictionary. Stop by for an ice cream, a game of corn-hole, Sunday Gospel music, or the Monday night bluegrass jam.