Natural Tunnel State Park: Quite a Phenomenon
A great place to hike and check out the local scenery is at Natural Tunnel State Park in Scott County, Virginia. When we visited here October 21, 2007, author Tony Scales set up a table near Natural Tunnel and autographed his book. The book, “Natural Tunnel Nature’s Marvel in Stone,” is a treasure trove of info. Tony’s photos truly showcased this “eighth wonder” of the world. Train track and trains run through this natural phenomenon. So, you can’t actually walk through the tunnel. Yet, you can get pretty close. The tunnel is 850 feet. However, access to it is available by the park chairlift or the Tunnel Trail.
A Replica of the Anderson Blockhouse, the Carter Family Cabin, Lover’s Leap and the Tunnel Observation Platform
Besides the tunnel there is the Carter Family cabin, a replica of the Anderson Blockhouse and the Rye Cove Education Center. In addition to Lover’s Leap, there is Tunnel Observation Platform and several hiking trails. So make a day of it and bring a picnic lunch, since the park is open from dawn to dusk.
The longest trail is Purchase Ridge Trail for 1.1 miles. There also is a foot bridge over Stock Creek, a branch off of the Clinch River. The creek originally ran through the bridge, but eventually the park diverted the water underground. The hiking difficulty ranges from easy to difficult.
Hike Around a Mountain at Natural Tunnel State Park
Hiking to the observation platform to the tunnel is up the side of a mountain, so take your time and rest along the way. My 76 year-old Mom hiked with us up the mountain. She didn’t make it all the way to the observation platform, but she managed to comfortably make it halfway to a bench. She saw us waving to her from her vantage point.
This truly is an enjoyable way to spend the day with family and friends. From the Tennessee/Virginia state line, take route US 23 North to Gate City. Take State Route 871 from there. Go one mile east to the park entrance. It is about 13 miles north of Gate City, Virginia. In addition, it’s 20 miles north of Kingsport, Tennessee. Truly as statesman William Jennings Bryan dubbed it, Natural Tunnel inside Natural Tunnel State Park truly is the eighth wonder of the world.