VASW §39: Rich Valley (VA-42) to Great Valley (US-11 and I-81)

Southwest Virginia §39 spans 11.8 miles. Parking is available for six mileposts.

Mp 0.0/11.8: VA-42 [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.

Mp 2.4/9.4: VA-610 [Old Rich Valley Road]

Locate: {36.96414, -81.39137}

Orient: VA-610 branches south from VA-42 [Bluegrass Trail] in Ceres 18.1 mi west of I-77 at exit 52 in Bland and 9.0 mi east of VA-16 [Buchanan Highway] in Saltville. From VA-42 {36.985177, -81.395707}: follow VA-610 for 1.8 mi to trail crossing.

Park: Limited roadside parking along shoulder.

Mp 5.5/6.3: via Crawfish-Channel Rock Trail

Locate: {36.96533, -81.31535}

Orient: Crawfish-Channel Rock Trail starts at the end of Strawberry Road in Rural Retreat 8.4 miles northwest of I-81 by way of VA-680 [Blacklick Road] and VA-625 [Crawfish Road]. From I-81 at exit 60 {36.916024, -81.273217}: follow VA-680 north for 2.4 mi to left onto VA-625; follow VA-625 for 4.2 mi to left onto Strawberry Road; continue on Strawberry Road for 1.7 mi to trailhead at road's end. VA-625 and Strawberry Road are gravel. A small stream across Strawberry Road ahead of the parking area may challenge low-clearance vehicles in wet periods.

Park: Room for many cars at trailhead.

Connect: From gate, follow orange-blazed (double diamonds) Crawfish-Channel Rock Trail along woods road for 2.8 mi to AT {36.95086, -81.36392}(?); keep straight at fork about 1 mi from trailhead. For AT northbound, turn right. For AT southbound, turn left.

Mp 10.7/1.1: VA-617 [Davis Valley Road]

Locate: {36.89738, -81.36920}

Orient: VA-683 [Windsor Road] becoming VA-617 branches north from US-11 [Lee Highway] at I-81 exit 54 in Rural Retreat. From US-11: follow VA-683 bearing right into VA-617 for 0.9 mi; look for pull-off on right (south) side of road.

Park: Parking for 2–3 cars in pull-off at trail crossing.

Mp 11.4/0.4: VA-683 [Windsor Road]

Locate: {36.88979, -81.37134}

Orient: VA-683 [Windsor Road] branches north from US-11 [Lee Highway] at I-81 exit 54 in Rural Retreat. From US-11: follow VA-683 for 0.2 mi to pull-off on right (east) side of road. (The ATC Guide locates this junction at 0.4 mi north of the south terminus of §39, at US-11, but mapping sites report 0.2 mi for the distance.)

Park: It looks like parking is possible here for 2–3 cars.

Mp 11.8/0.0: US-11 [Lee Highway]

Locate: {36.88652, -81.37095}

Orient: The south terminus of §39 and the north terminus of §40 coincide at the T-intersection of VA-683 [Windsor Road] and US-11 in Rural Retreat, adjacent to I-81 at exit 54.

Park: The Barn Restaurant at the trailhead apparently offers hiker parking for a small fee; ask for permission to park in its large lot.