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 USFS lot on the north side of road and behind a split-rail fence.

Park: Room for a dozen cars in gravel USFS lot; signed. 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; look for blaze post recessed from south side of road. 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

Locate: {36.95902, -81.39478}

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 2.3 mi to approximate midpoint of trail crossing.

Park: The AT crosses VA-610 on a short diagonal of about 90 yd. There's room for 1–2 cars each along the east shoulder near both junctions of footpath and pavement—opposite the northernmost junction {36.95930,-81.39461} and adjacent to the southernmost junction {36.95865,-81.39500}. Be wary of where you pull onto this narrow shoulder: Tall grass can hide the steeply pitched embankment. Additional parking may be possible 0.5 mi northeast in a pull-off of sorts at the end of an apparently-defunct farm road on the east side of VA-610 {36.96486,-81.39057}.

Note: The AT meets VA-610 where the road traverses the county line between Bland County to the northeast and Smyth County Line to the southwest. In Bland County, VA-610 is named Nebo Road; in Smyth County, it is named Old Rich Valley Road. • The coordinates herein were recorded from the trail with a handheld GPS receiver. They do not overlap with the AT traces across VA-610 shown by OpenStreetMap or Google Maps.

Mp 6.6/5.2: via Crawfish-Channel Rock Trail

Locate: {36.96533, -81.31535}

Orient: Crawfish-Channel Rock Trail starts at the end of Strawberry Road [FR-727] 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 northeast for 2.4 mi to left onto VA-625; follow VA-625 northwest for 4.2 mi to left onto Strawberry Road; continue southwest 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 stymy low-clearance vehicles in wet periods.

Park: Room for many cars at trailhead.

Connect: From gate, follow orange-blazed (diamonds) Crawfish-Channel Rock Trail for 2.8 mi to AT {36.94068,-81.36112}. 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: From Mp 11.8/0.0, below: follow VA-683 [Windsor Road] north for 0.7 mi bearing right into VA-617; continue northeast on VA-617 for 0.1 mi to trail crossing.

Park: Room for 3–4 cars in pull-off on south side of road at trail crossing.

Mp 11.6/0.2: VA-683 [Windsor Road]

Locate: {36.88979, -81.37134}

Orient: This is the north end of the 0.5 mi road walk between Mp 11.4/0.4 and §40 Mp 0.1/11.4. From Mp 11.8/0.0, below: follow VA-683 north for 0.2 mi to junction with footpath on right (east) side of road.

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

Note: 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.

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

Locate: {36.88652, -81.37075}

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 Groseclose, adjacent to I-81 at exit 54.

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