Lovingly Written by Abigail Campbell
Start your fall adventure by driving the scenic routes of Heart of Appalachia on your way to Breaks Interstate Park, where you will see 4,500 acres of greenwood lands and mountain scenery. Zip into fall on the newest addition at Breaks, the Canyon Rim Zipline Tour. Join the guides for a thrilling zipline tour along the rim of the Breaks Gorge. With 25 miles of hiking trails, 12 miles for mountain biking, horseback riding, pedal boats, hydro bikes, canoe rentals, fishing and white-water rafting, visitors have countless opportunities to enjoy fall foliage. The Fall Elk Viewing Tour is a MUST, with a 100% success rate on viewing elk and many other species of animals, including whitetail deer, wild turkey, and the occasional black bear. The elk tours are sure to please. While at Breaks Interstate Park visit the Rhododendron Restaurant for brunch. They offer a broad menu selection along with breathtaking views of the gorge from their floor-to-ceiling windows that you do not want to miss.
From there, take the scenic SR63 over Dante Mountain, with a stop at Dante’s Railroad and Coal Museum for a look into the area’s past. This historic “company town” was a bustling hub for shopping, dining and entertainment when coal was king. Continue your trek into the town of St. Paul. Enjoy a stroll along the Clinch River to Bluebell Island or aside Oxbow Lake to take in the beauty of colors before breaking for a late lunch or early dinner at Sugar Hill Brewing Company. Transformed from an old hardware store in downtown, Sugar Hill is the area’s newest destination for quality craft beer, food and community gathering. After getting your stomach full, finish your day’s drive with another scenic route to MountainRose Vineyard. Take Hwy 58alt to Coeburn, then onto Wise Mountain Road. Take a tour and enjoy a tasting of the only Virginia wines made from grapes grown on land formerly mined for coal. Finish the evening out and rest overnight at the Historic Inn at Wise, a 100-year-old historic landmark in southwest Virginia. Their Pub & Tap Room often has live local music to end the day on a happy note.
Start day two by visiting the City of Norton, named 2017 Top Adventure Town by Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine. This, the smallest independent City in Virginia, is also known for the mythical mountain legend, the Woodbooger. While in Norton you can get a better view for the fall foliage and the city from 3,250 feet in elevation at Flag Rock Recreation Area, locate three miles from downtown. To continue your fall viewing, visit High Knob Observation Tower, at an elevation of 4,223 feet, were visitors can view 5 states. Do not forget to bring your camera!
On your way back through Norton share a meal with the mythical legend at the Woodbooger Grill. Besides the gamut of burgers large and larger, there’s something for everyone on the menu. Continue your fall foliage viewing to Little Stony Falls just outside of Coeburn onto VA 72 and State Route 664, on the Northern Trailhead in Dungannon. The 2.8-mile hiking trail follows the stream through a 400-foot deep and 1,700-foot wide gorge. After enjoying the scenic views, return to Wise to relax and grab dinner at Reno’s Roadhouse, Monterrey Mexican Restaurant, or Roma’s Restaurant. If you’re ready to hit the town, you can enjoy Bluegrass music on Saturday nights at Country Cabin II Appalachian Traditions Village, or an outdoor movie at Central Drive-In.
Driving Directions to Little Stony Falls (link to Google Maps):
Little Stony Falls – Northern Trailhead, Forest Rd 701, Dungannon, VA 24245 Follow Norton Coeburn Rd, US-58 ALT E and VA-72 S to State Rt 664 19 min (13.4 mi)