VASW §38: Garden Mountain (VA-623) to Rich Valley (VA-42)

Southwest Virginia §38 spans 17.3 miles. Parking is available for four mileposts.

Mp 0.0/17.3: VA-623 [Burkes Garden Road]

Locate: {37.07705, -81.30706}

Orient: VA-623 branches south from VA-61 [Clear Fork Creek Road] in Tazewell 19.5 mile southwest of US-77 at exit 64 in Rocky Gap and 6.3 mi southeast of US-460 at exit 3 in Tazewell. From VA-61 {37.134712, -81.413510}: follow VA-623 for 12.0 miles to parking area on right (southwest) side of road at trail crossing. The final 2.5 mi of this approach is a gravel mountain road winding to the crest. Visibility around bends is generally good, and there are places to accommodate passing. Alternatively, VA-623 branches north from VA-42 [W Blue Grass Trail] in Sharon Springs 10.4 mi west of US-77 at exit 52 in Bland and 17 mi east of VA-16 in Saltville. From VA-42 {37.049632, -81.285788}: follow VA-623 for 7.5 mi to parking area on left (southwest) side of road at trail crossing. From VA-42 to the crest of Garden Mountain, gravel and dirt VA-623 is reportedly a narrow and winding road chock-full of hairpin turns but stingy on shoulder space for passing. The 7.5 mi drive takes about 30 minutes.

Park: Room for 4–6 cars in small dirt lot at trail crossing. There are no signs here for either trail or parking, but several large boulders demarcate parking area.

Mp 4.9/12.4: VA-727 [West End Road]

Locate: {37.05460, -81.37848}

Orient: VA-727 branches southwest from VA-623 [Burkes Garden Road] in Burkes Garden. From VA-623 {37.098222, -81.341442}: follow VA-727 southwest for 4.0 mi to end of pavement; continue for 0.4 mi on dirt road uphill to parking area on left side of road. Rutting and gullies along the final 0.4 mi roadway may cause grief to low-clearance vehicles; see alternative below.

Park: Room for 3–4 cars in pull-off at trail crossing.

Mp 4.9/12.4: via VA-727 [West End Road]

Locate: {37.05930, -81.37859}

Orient: This is an alternative to parking at the trail crossing, above. From VA-623: follow VA-727 southwest for 4.0 mi to end of pavement.

Park: Roadside parking for 2–3 cars looks possible where pavement ends.

Connect: Follow dirt section of VA-727 for 0.4 mi to AT, as above. For AT northbound, turn left onto footpath. For AT southbound, turn right onto footpath.

Mp 10.8/6.5: VA-625/USFS-222 [Mountain Spring Road]

Locate: {37.02273, -81.42494}

Orient: VA-625 intersects VA-42 [W Bluegrass Trail] in Ceres about 14.2 miles southwest of I-77 at exit 52. From VA-42 {37.018022, -81.343345}: head north on VA-625; continue for 7.9 mi to crossing, about 1.2 miles beyond a sign marking the end of state maintenance; look for pull-off on left (south) side of road. VA-625 becomes USFS-222 where state maintenance ends. The road is mostly gravel.

Park: Room for a few cars in pull-off at trail crossing.

Mp 17.3/0.0: VA-42 [W Blue Grass Trail]

Locate: {36.98428, -81.40553}

Orient: The AT crosses VA-42 in Ceres 18.7 mi southwest of I-77 at exit 52 in Bland and 8.4 mi northeast of VA-16 [Buchanan Highway] in Saltville. The parking area is just northeast of this crossing; look for the gravel USFS lot on the right (north) side of road. The lot is signed and has a split-rail fence.

Park: Room for a dozen or so cars in USFS lot. Do not confuse the USFS lot with the O'Lystery Community Picnic Area, a little closer to the AT. The ATC guide admonishes hikers not to use this private picnic area.

Connect: Turn right (southwest) from lot and walk on road for 120 yards to AT {36.98350, -81.40639}. For AT northbound, turn right from road onto footpath. For AT southbound, turn left onto footpath. Alternatively, take short blue-blazed path from back of lot to AT. For AT northbound, turn right. For AT southbound, turn left.