Daylong Outdoor Getaway

Photo of a family at Flag Rock Overlook

Daylong Outdoor Getaway

Searching for a daylong outdoor adventure? We've got you covered. See suggested trip itineraries below and visit the Outdoor Recreation page for more ideas.

Day Tripper: High Knob Edition

Sunrise Sightseeing: Flag Rock Recreation Area

Photo of Flag Rock Recreation AreaFlag Rock Recreation Area looking toward downtown Norton

Spend the morning exploring Flag Rock Recreation Area, a city park located three miles above downtown Norton on the lower slopes of High Knob.

  • Visit the Flag Rock Overlook, which offers a sweeping view of downtown Norton and beyond. Driving Directions
  • Want to work for your view? Leave your car at Legion Park and climb 1.4 miles to the recreation area. More information on the Flag Rock Trail.
  • Snap a photo with the city's popular Woodbooger statue as you walk the gravel footpath back to the parking area. 
  • Get your heart pumping by hiking or mountain biking the 10+ mile Flag Rock Area Trails system, canoeing or kayaking the city's 9.8-acre Upper Reservoir, or bouldering/rock climbing the sandstone cliffs and boulders that span the recreation area. If seeking a more relaxing excursion, go fishing in the city's Upper and Lower Reservoirs. See the Flag Rock Recreation Area page for more information on each activity and driving directions.
  • Head back to downtown Norton for lunch at one of these Local Restaurants.

Afternoon Adventure: High Knob

Photo of hikers at High Knob TowerHigh Knob Observation Tower (Photo: Brad Deel)

Spend the afternoon exploring more recreation opportunities on High Knob.

  • Visit the High Knob Observation Tower. Located atop the mountain's 4,200-foot summit and five miles above downtown Norton, enjoy views of distant peaks as far away as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and West Virginia. Driving Directions Find out more about what you can see from the Observation Deck.
  • Hike to High Knob Recreation Area. A one-mile trail (also the start of the 15.6-mile Chief Benge Scout Trail) travels from the High Knob Observation Tower parking lot to High Knob Recreation Area. Learn more about the Chief Benge Trail. Learn more about High Knob Recreation Area.
  • Take a scenic drive back to downtown Norton. Stop by Bark Camp Lake Recreation Area in neighboring Scott County on the return trip by following this Driving Route. Note: This route does include some Forest Service gravel roads that are generally kept in good condition. Bark Camp Recreation Area includes a 61-acre lake, campground, as well as fishing, boating, mountain biking, and hiking opportunities.
  • Eat Dinner in downtown Norton.

Evening Exploration: Southwest Virginia Sunset

High Knob Sunset.jpgLooking toward Powell Valley from the High Knob summit

Check out these overlooks for exceptional sunsets.

  • Powell Valley Overlook: Located on U.S. 23 North between Big Stone Gap and Norton, this overlook offers sweeping views of Powell Valley and surrounding mountains. Driving Directions
  • High Knob Observation Tower: Standing atop the 4,200-foot summit offers a great vantage of Southwest Virginia's spectacular sunsets, as pictured above. See previous section for driving directions.
  • Flag Rock Overlook: Resting at 3,200 feet in elevation, the overlook also provides a great vantage to watch the sun slip below the horizon as the lights in downtown Norton illuminate the surrounding hillsides. See above listing for driving directions.

Day Tripper: Lakes and Rivers Edition

Sunrise Sightseeing: Norton's Upper/Lower Reservoir

canoeists, flag rock main.jpgNorton's Upper Reservoir

Spend the morning exploring Norton's 9.8-acre Upper Reservoir and its 7.8-acre Lower Reservoir. Driving Directions

  • Canoe or kayak Norton's Upper Reservoir. Check out the High Knob Adventure Guide for a list of area outfitters.
  • Cast a line. Norton's Upper Reservoir is a state-stocked trout water. Visit the city's Fishing Page for more information and regulations.
  • Take a stroll around the Upper Reservoir via the Lake Lake Show Trail, an almost one-mile hiking and mountain biking trail that circles the lake and also offers views of the Lower Reservoir. See the city's Flag Rock Area Trails page for more information.
  • If time, drive a few more miles up the mountain and visit High Knob Recreation Area. Launch your canoe or kayak in its four-acre lake or hike the one-mile Lakeshore Loop Trail.
  • Head back to downtown Norton for lunch at one of these Local Restaurants.

Afternoon Adventure: Guest River Gorge

Photo of the Guest River Gorge TrailGuest River Gorge Trail

Spend the afternoon walking, running, or biking the 5.5-mile Guest River Gorge Trail.

  • This crushed gravel path travels along the Guest River to its confluence with the Clinch River. Gentle grades accompany the footpath that is characterized by giant sandstone cliffs that tower above the trail and bring the sound of the Guest River to a thunderous roar in some sections along the footpath. 
  • The trail follows the former route of the Interstate Railroad, which had a line that ran from Miller Yard near Dungannon to Coeburn. After the line was abandoned, a group of local residents partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to build the trail along the railroad's former route. The trail celebrated its 25th anniversary in June 2015.
  • Visit this Online Trail Guide for more details and background on the Guest River Gorge Trail. Also check out a Digital Outdoor Trail Guide video featuring the trail. 

Evening Exploration: Clinch River

clinch river.jpgClinch River

Spend the evening exploring a section of the Clinch River in St. Paul.

Be sure to check out the High Knob Region Adventure Guide for more trip ideas!

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