With springtime fast approaching, Wise County and Norton have plenty of activities and places to keep you busy in 2022.
The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests’ Clinch Ranger District has three recreation areas in and near Wise County: High Knob, Bark Camp and Cane Patch. Clinch District Ranger Michelle Davalos said all three sites should be open for the 2022 season, while the district is still seeking a camp host for the Cave Springs Recreation Area in Lee County. All sites feature camping, hiking and day recreation opportunities.
The High Knob Observation Tower overlooks Wise and Scott counties and Norton and is open from sunrise to sunset daily.
The 5.9-mile Guest River Gorge trail near Coeburn is open year-round for hiking and bicycling. Visitors start through a former rail tunnel and follow a former rail bed.
More information and updates on trails, sites, directions and opening schedules across the Clinch Ranger District can be found online: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/gwj/recarea/?recid=77718.
Near Pound, the North Fork Pound Reservoir offers boating, kayaking, fishing and day hiking. More information is online: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/gwj/recarea/?recid=73859.
The city of Norton’s Flag Rock Recreation Area offers picnic areas, tent and RV campsites and the Flag Rock overlook with a view across Norton and much of Wise County. The city also has a network of hiking and cycling trails starting from Legion Park to Flag Rock and on around the Norton Reservoir, where visitors can enjoy fishing, hiking and kayaking
Information on the city’s parks, trails and Flag Rock can be found online: https://www.nortonva.gov/425/Outdoor-Recreation
The Southwest Regional Recreation Authority — Spearhead Trails — maintains and operates several ATV, hiking and cycling trail networks across far Southwest Virginia. In Wise County, the authority’s Mountain View Trail system offers 118 miles of trails with trailheads in St. Paul and Coeburn.
More information on Spearhead Trail systems is online: https://spearheadtrails.com/outdoor-adventures/.
Big Stone Gap has several parks and outdoor recreation sites, including the 3-mile walking and bicycling Greenbelt. The Little Stone Mountain and Roaring Branch trails offer more difficult hiking. Big Cherry Reservoir also offers fishing, hiking and kayaking.
For more, visit: https://bigstonegap.com/things-to-do/parks-trails/.
Built on the bed of a former section of L&N Railroad line, the Powell River Trail combines a fully-accessible, paved, 2.4-mile round-trip walk or cycling destination. The trailhead is along Main Street in Appalachia and has parking. The route offers plenty of shade and views of remnants of the trail’s former use.
One can see the occasional rail telegraph/telephone pole, and two rail tunnels offer shade and a bit of history. Marker signs also give more information on the tunnels and bridges along the trail.
Walkers and cyclists are advised to keep an eye out for bears, but plenty of visitors seem to keep bear sightings infrequent during the trail’s sunup-to-sunset operating hours.
For more, visit the trail’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/AppalachiaTrails/.
The Southwest Virginia Museum on Wood Avenue in Big Stone Gap contains several historical collections of photographs, artifacts and documents describing the region’s history. Visitors can enjoy the grounds of the former residence of Congressman C. Bascom Slemp and tour each floor of the museum’s exhibits. Spring visitors can enjoy the “A Stitch in Time: Annual Quilt Show” April 1-May 31.
The Southwest Virginia Museum is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
Gathering in the Gap, Southwest Virginia Museum Historical Park, May 28. Music, crafts, food and featured acts Crystal Gayle and Dave Eggar. For more information, visit http://www.gatheringinthegap.org/.
24th annual Clinch River Days, St. Paul., June 3-4. Music, crafts, food and plenty to do in downtown St. Paul. For more information, visit www.clinchriverfest.com.
VA-KY District Fair, Wise County Fairgrounds, June 14-18. Rides, games, horses, demolition derby, music, food and more. For updates, visit www.facebook.com/vakyfair.
7th annual High Knob Music Festival, High Knob Recreation Area. The 2022 High Knob Music Festival will be held on Saturday, June 18 at the High Knob Recreation Area in the Jefferson National Forest, outside of Norton. Visit www.facebook.com/HighKnobMusicFestival/.
“The Trail of the Lonesome Pine”: Virginia’s official outdoor drama, based on the novel by John Fox, Jr. Runs through June, July and August.
Chillin and Grillin in the Glades, downtown Wise, July 15-16. Barbecue, music, games and fun. For more information, visit www.chillinandgrillinintheglades.com
High Knob Outdoor Fest, Norton, Aug. 15-20. Off-site outdoor trips, as well as demonstrations, activities, and vendors in downtown Norton. Live music, food trucks, and a beer garden will also be part of the festivities. Updates at www.highknoboutdoorfest.wixsite.com/highknoboutdoorfest.
Guest River Rally, downtown Coeburn, Labor Day weekend. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/guestriverrally.
Wise Fall Fling, downtown Wise, dates to be announced. Crafts, traditional music and dancing, food and games. For updates, visit www.wisefallfling.com.
Mountain Empire Community College’s 50th annual Home Craft Days, Oct. 21-23. Traditional artisans, crafts, music, food and displays. For updates, visit http://www.homecraftdays.org/.