Hikes To End Your Year With Chills and Thrills! Taking a hike is a great way to end the year...
Article Written by Shay Wilson, Breaks Interstate Park
Taking a hike in the winter is not a thought that crosses everyone’s mind. It’s chilly, and most people would much rather spend their afternoon curled up watching holiday movies in a warm house. However, taking a hike is a great way to end the year! You’ll see the woods and your favorite spots in a whole new way! Views often covered by the magnitude of leaf-covered trees will be visible and for that millennial deciding to get out, the entirety of the outdoors is draped in a cool, gray filter (no needing to scroll through a million filters to get that photo just right!). Southwest Virginia is known for vast mountains, breathtaking views, and amazing adventures so don’t let your winter go to waste inside! There are quite a few routes the Heart of Appalachia provides that would definitely make winter hikes a tradition for years to come!
If you’re worried about getting stuck in the cold too long, a brisk walk through Big Stone Gap’s Movie Site Walking Tour is a good start. Consider a leisurely stroll on the Town’s Greenbelt and enjoy the calming effect of the sights and sounds of the Pound River along your trek. End your hike nestled up for a coffee or lunch at the Second Story Café and find out why so many people call BSG home.
Looking for less town, more nature? Head over to the City of Norton’s Flag Rock Recreation Area. There’s an open rock ledge that’ll give you the feel of a king looking over his kingdom! The view from Flag Rock takes in the city below, the forestlands beyond, and all the way into Kentucky! There are plenty of hiking and biking trails to explore and who knows, maybe you’ll end up meeting the infamously elusive Woodbooger! If you don’t manage to meet him, don’t worry, there’s a Woodbooger statue that’ll be a great stand-in for a selfie! If you’ve worked up an appetite, you might want to check in at the Woodbooger Grille in downtown Norton for a WoodBurger and fries!
All the way on the Virginia-Kentucky border lies Breaks Interstate Park. The Breaks has overlooks that are picture perfect even in the winter. If you’re looking for a prime forest adventure, take the Prospector’s Trail all the way up to Stateline Overlook. You’ll feel like Indiana Jones walking under huge rock formations or scaling up a rock pathway that normally is a beautiful pathway for a creek to run through. During the spring and summer, you can catch small glimpses of the cliff line and the mountainous hills over in Kentucky, but in the winter, there’s no doubt your entire trip down this hiking path will leave you with endless views that’ll surely blow your mind! If your trip takes you through Haysi, take a break and visit with the locals as you explore their quaint Main Street businesses.
Water spilling over cliffs into streams that follow you all the way down the trail sounds like a dream, right? You can make that a reality by visiting the Guest River Gorge near the town of Coeburn. It’s easily one of the most scenic rail trails you go on regardless of whether you’re hiking on foot or taking a bike. If that’s not impressive enough, spend part of your hiking adventure going through the railroad tunnel that’ll lead you to an awe-inspiring vista.
If you’re still teetering on the idea of a hike in the winter weather, just remind yourself this is a great outlet to go outdoors (before the cold is too unbearable), spend time with your family or friends seeing all the wildlife when they can’t hide behind bushes or trees, or maybe even get a kick start on your New Years’ Resolution! We’d love to see how your adventures go so if you take one of these hikes or find somewhere else in the Heart of Appalachia region to explore, be sure to snap a photo and tag us in it on Facebook or use #iheartappy on Instagram!
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