In the Heart of Appalachia, scenic mountains and valleys offer excitement and adventure whether you're hugging the curves on two wheels of four. Your unforgettable journey will take you through charming towns, atop breathtaking vistas, as you experience nature's majesty and one-of-a-kind attractions.
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111 miles of camera candy: charming, historic towns along the most bio-diverse river on the continent, the Clinch.
The Clinch River is the crown of the Heart of Appalachia flowing southwestward from its origin near the town of Tazewell, the Clinch travels some 135 miles, reaching portions of Tazewell, Russell, Wise, and Scott counties on its way to the Tennessee state line. Named after an otherwise forgotten explorer, the Clinch played a major role in the exploration and settlement of Southwest Virginia. Many early settlers made their homes along its eastern shore, while others crossed the formidable flow and explored the wilderness beyond its banks. Probably the most famous explorer to pace the banks of the Clinch and challenge its currents was Daniel Boone. Boone resided for some time near Castlewood, and negotiated the river during his many trips through Southwest Virginia. The Clincher Route treks through some of those settlements and crosses those paths taken by the pioneer explorers before us.
Climb to an elevation of 4,223 ft. atop High Knob before descending 2,800 ft. into the scenic valleys below for 100 miles of smiles.
Sure to elevate your heart rate, this route covers some of the most scenic, curvy elevation changing roads in Wise and Lee Counties with arteries taking you through our bordering neighbors of Kentucky’s Letcher and Harlan Counties. It’s also where our Appalachian Backroads project got its start back in 2012 when a small group of Appalachian back road motorcycle lovers met at the Holiday Inn to brainstorm how to share the scenic treasures of the coalfields in SW Virginia. The independent City of Norton is at the geographic heart of Wise County making it the perfect start to your adventure.
THE HEART BREAKER
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 an 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.
THE RIDGE RUNNER
Travel the crest of the Appalachian mountains for 112 miles, including the Great 80 Curves of Challenge.
You can start the Ridge Runner from any point but you won’t want to miss such classic small towns like Honaker – the Redbud Capital of the World, Haysi, Richlands, and Cedar Bluff where the old grist mill is the perfect photography subject. Save some room on your memory card to capture the views atop the Cedar Bluff Overlook which provides a stunning perspective any time of year. Nearby, the Appalachian Arts Center is a 4,000 sq. ft. facility dedicated to exhibiting and selling works created by local craftspeople, artists, student apprentices, authors and musicians.
STONE FACE CHASE
Following the pioneer's path along the Wilderness Road on this 80 mile loop through Virginia's westernmost county.
Named for a character millions of years in the making, Stone Face Chase journeys through the heart of the westernmost tip of Virginia in Lee County. Stone Face is a natural rock formation, the product of erosion from wind and water flowing down the ridges of the mountain to Stone Creek and into the Powell River. Folklore tells us the Great Stone Face marked the entrance and watched over sacred Cherokee lands long before European settlers made their way to the region.
124 miles of curves, overlooks, and valleys. Watch your Back, as you are close enough to feel the Dragon's breath.
This route lets you explore Tazewell County’s Mountains of Adventure with thousands of feet in elevation changes from the crests to the valleys below. The easiest and most spectacular way to enter the Appalachian Backroads is with a ride on the Back of the Dragon. From Interstate 81 at the Marion, VA exit, take Route 16 back and forth up the Dragon’s spine to lush Tazewell County. Cresting the mountaintop, you have a spectacular vantage of Thompson Valley from this overlook.