Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Travels-Bottom Creek Gorge

i really have no idea how we have lived here for 13 years, and yet had never heard of Bottom Creek Gorge.  Bottom Creek Gorge has the second highest waterfall in Virginia and is just a  few miles outside of Floyd county, in Montgomery county, VA.  

i only happened upon it when someone posted photos on facebook. i clicked on them to see where it was, and was super surprised that it was so close to us.  We have always spent our summers checking out local hiking areas, nature preserves, places along the new river trail and blue ridge parkway. So i really have no idea how it took us so long to find this place.

At the beginning of the trail head they have a kiosk with info, map and a warning that the trail is very strenuous 'proceed at your own risk'.  i was a little concerned about the kids on the trail if it was extremely strenuous. The falls viewing is at the end of the red trail, so we took that one down. All along the trails are the remnants of old homesteads.  They are all labeled on the map legend. There are not many to see on the red trail, so we decided to take the blue trail back after seeing the falls. The blue trail is much less steep and an easier hike.

 i did not feel like it was especially strenuous, although it was a bit steep. The kids had no trouble walking it, and there are steps down the steeper parts.  It was a beautiful trail, with old fence posts and wineberries everywhere.

The blue trail had a bunch of old homesteads.  We saw many old log cabins, stones  piles where chimneys used to be and even an old cemetery with an iron gate.  Since our hike here, i've been searching online for some kind of history of the families that lived here but haven't found a whole lot.

The only info i could find said that  Bottom Creek Gorge was settled in the late 18th century, reaching a peak population of over 20 families in the mid 20th century. Settlers called the gorge “the roughs” because of the rocky, almost impassible terrain. Scattered about the gorge are old house sites, farmsteads, graveyards, stone dwellings built by Civil War deserters, and the remains of an abandoned scout camp, Camp Kiwanniana. 

The Nature Conservatory began planning Bottom Creek Gorge Preserve in 1978 when the Virginia Chapter and forerunner of Virginia’s state Natural Heritage Program reorganized the outstanding variety of fishes found in the creek. Since 1988, the Conservatory has acquired 1,657 acres here. While most of the land has been purchased, the 74-acre tract containing the waterfall itself was donated in 1992 by Appalachian Power Company.

We had a great time on the hike. The kids collected sticks that turned into wizard staffs, magical wands and bow and arrows.  There were lots of big rocks to climb on and a few open areas where we saw wildflowers and butterflies.  It was really a beautiful hike.

The falls viewing area is quite small, so if there are other folks on the trail it can get rather crowded and you may find yourself having to wait.  There were several cars there when we arrived, but we only saw two other people on the trails.  The actual waterfall, Bent Mountain Falls,  is quite far away on the other side of the gorge. There is no way to access it so you can not get anywhere near the actual falls, but you can see it through the trees.   It is huge (200 feet), but not nearly as spectacular as the cascades.

We really enjoyed the hike, seeing all the old homesteads and look forward to coming back to walk it again.
We love these summer day trips, and are always excited to visit some place new. i still can't believe we had never heard of this before, but am glad that we found it!

Our summer already feels like it going way too fast!  We are in the process of coming up with our house plans and will soon begin to rebuild.  i'll post all about that when we finally know excatly what we are going to do. We are definitely getting closer.   These weekend getaways are so needed to help us clear our minds, and focus on family and just enjoying our time together.


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