Within the boundary of the 4,836-acre Channels State Forest is a 721-acre parcel that has been dedicated in perpetuity as the Channels Natural Area Preserve under the provisions of the Natural Area Preserve Act of 1989 to be managed by the Department of Forestry in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
At the crest of the mountain, within the Natural Area Preserve, are the Great Channels of Virginia, impressive formations of 400-million-year-old sandstone outcroppings. Geologists conclude that the Channels were likely formed while the high-elevation sandstone cap was under the influence of permafrost and ice wedging during the last ice age. These forces shattered and enlarged joints in the sandstone caprock.
Located on the southern slope of Clinch Mountain, elevations on the Channels State Forest range from 1,800 feet to more than 4,200 feet. Ecological communities and forest types change significantly with elevation. A diversity of forest types from cove hardwoods to northern hardwoods are present. Continuing studies indicate the presence of rare and imperiled plant species.
Find multiple parking locations off of the Brumley Gap Road entrance. See the brochure linked above for a map.