Chestnut Knob

  • Highlights: Burke’s Garden, views, bald summit, Appalachian Trail
  • Distance:  4.2 mile out and back
  • Elevation change:  1,400 feet
  • Difficulty level: Strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: From Burke’s Garden General Store on route 623, continue south east for 1.1 miles. Turn left on route 727 and follow for 4 miles until the road becomes a one lane dirt road. There is a farm and house on the right. Park on the left side of the road.
  • Website: High Lonesome Trails
  • Beer Pairings: BYOB or Back of the Dragon Brewery in Tazewell

The Hike:

Burke’s Garden is Virginia’s highest valley and is surrounded by mountains. Just getting to the trailhead is an adventure. Route 727 quickly changes from paved asphalt, to gravel, and then to single lane dirt. It is not advisable to drive any further on route 727 even with a 4 wheel drive vehicle. To reach the trailhead, continue walking on route 727 to reach Walker’s Gap. The road will become very steep, narrow, and washed out in places and you will soon appreciate parking your car below. 

In less than ½ mile you will reach a junction with the Appalachian Trail.  Turn right to head south on the AT. The AT will climb steadily for 1 mile or so as you wind your way among a dense forest of oak, hickory, and fir trees. The AT breaks out of the trees into a grassy clearing at Chestnut Knob. The AT shelter at Chestnut Knob is a former fire warden’s cabin and is one of the few AT shelters enclosed on all four sides. The stone shelter has a great view of Burke’s Garden below. From here you can see the valley and rich farmland surrounded by mountain peaks. If you are up for a longer hike, follow the AT south for another mile or so and enjoy the views of the bald summit of Chestnut Ridge. 

On our visit in August, dark clouds were looming to the east and we didn’t like the idea of being on a bald summit during a lighting storm, so we made a rapid descent retracing our route on the AT and returning to our vehicle just as the rain began. We definitely plan to return to Chestnut Knob to continue on the AT to the bald summit of Chestnut Ridge.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

When we completed this hike in 2018, Painted Peak Brewery in nearby Tazewell was our destination for a post-hike golden beverage. Sadly, Painted Peak closed in 2020. However, Tazewell is now the home of Back of the Dragon Brewery. We have not had the pleasure of visiting this brewery, but we have them on our list and will update this post as soon as we get to Tazewell.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.