Great Channels of Virginia – Saltville, Virginia - Atlas Obscura
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Saltville, Virginia

Great Channels of Virginia

This maze-like slot canyon is a unique gem within an already fascinating geological area. 

This maze-like slot canyon weaves through the soft sandstone, beckoning in-the-know hikers to discover what awaits around each any every twist. 

The Great Channels of Virginia are a small part of the Channels Area National Preserve. The sandstone slot canyons are a hidden gem within an already fascinating geological area sure to entice any hikers who choose to wander within their depths.

Geologists believe the labyrinth of crevices was created during the last ice age. Permafrost and ice wedging carved the canyons into the 400-million-year-old soft sandstone, leaving behind a maze-like path through the rocks.

Though slot canyons are fairly common in the western United States, it’s rarer to stumble across them along the East Coast. Unlike the ones located in desert environments, the Great Channels of Virginia are nestled within a lush swath of greenery.

A roughly 6.5-mile hike leads explorers through their many twists and turns. The channels are near the summit of Middle Knob on Clinch Mountain, so hikers are rewarded with gorgeous vistas of the surrounded nature preserve.