Bottom Creek Gorge

  • Highlights: Waterfall and creek views
  • Distance: 4.9 mile loop
  • Elevation Change 870 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt with some rocky sections
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: Bottom Creek Preserve, 2031 Bottom Creek Lane, Bent Mountain VA; GPS directions may not be accurate, follow these directions to the trailhead
  • Website: AllTrails and The Nature Conservancy
  • Beer Pairings: Chaos Mountain Brewery—Deep Woods Kolsch & Tread Lightly IPA

Trail Map:

The Hike:

The Nature Conservancy is a global environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature can thrive. They protect nearly 150,000 acres at 22 sites in Virginia. Bottom Creek Gorge has been part of the Conservancy since the 1970s. The trails are well marked and well maintained. Dogs are not allowed in the preserve.

From the parking area, follow the gravel road through the gate. A kiosk here provides information about the preserve and its trails. This hike combines three trails: Knight, Johnston, and Duval. The entrance trail crosses a small footbridge and then passes beside a dense rhododendron thicket. Pass another trail kiosk and the yellow-blazed Knight Trail at .6 miles. This will be the return route. 

Stay right at another junction as the blue-blazed Duval Trail enters a hardwood forest of tulip poplar, maple, oak, and hickory. Meadows on the right are former farmland, slowly transitioning to forest. At 1.5 miles, a short spur trail on the right leads to a small family cemetery. Nearby are the crumbling remains of a chimney and a wood cabin. Deer frequent this area and we saw six of them on this hike.

The train soon enters Bottom Creek Gorge. At 2.4 miles bear right on the red-blazed Johnston Trail to Bent Mountain Falls. Across the gorge, Camp Creek tumbles over the rocks cascading 200 feet through a series of falls. This is the 2nd highest waterfall in Virginia, only Crabtree Falls is larger.

Return to the Johnston Trail and follow the red blazes as the trail begins a steady climb. Cross a small stream and then bear right on the yellow-blazed Knight Trail. Reach. Reach a short spur on the right at 3.2 miles. Bear right here and hike down to Bottom Creek. A series of pools and small cascades, known as The Kettles” are home to several rare species of fish. 

Dip your feet in the creek and enjoy the surroundings. We observed a swarm of Tiger Swallowtail butterflies puddling on a rock. Return to the Knight Trail and follow the yellow blazes to a small pond on the left. At the junction with the entrance road, bear right to return to your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Chaos Mountain Brewery in Callaway VA is located about 25 minutes from the trailhead. They have 18 taps of craft beer and offer indoor and outdoor seating. Food trucks and live music are on the calendar most weekends.

Pete really liked Deep Woods Kolsch (5.3% ABV) which is true to its German roots: crisp, clean and easy drinking. Kathy enjoyed a pint of Tread Lightly (6.7% ABV), a hazy New England IPA with an aroma of tropical fruits and a nice balance of hops.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.