Date: Tuesday June 14 – Sunday June 19, 2016 (5 nights)
Website: Natural Tunnel State Park (VA)
1420 Natural Tunnel Parkway (use gps coordinates N36.696984 W82.738577)
Duffield, VA 24244
Description: In the mountains of southwest Virginia, this is a gem of a park. We stayed in site 12 (T&D in site 11) of Lovers Leap Campground which is a little more big rig friendly than their Cove View CG. Roads are paved with gravel sites having W/E (50A). Good Verizon reception. There are several Camping Cabins (houses really) just down the road in their own area. The reservations are non-site specific so we picked our site when we arrived. There is also a large swimming pool further in the park which is popular with the kids. As with the other VA state parks we’ve visited, there are several excellent hiking trails here. There are several summer activities offered too, most at a minimal cost, such as kayaking, canoeing, guided hikes and caving. The main attraction though is a large Natural Tunnel which was formed over eons of time by groundwater slowly seeping through and dissolving the limestone and dolomite bedrock. Stock Creek diverted underground to slowly carve the Tunnel through centuries of time. In 1890, a railway was built right through the Tunnel. It’s still in use and a train runs a couple of times a day carrying coal. The Tunnel is 850 feet long and 100 feet high inside.
Trash and Recycle: Dumpster and recycle bins (aluminum cans and plastic only) at the exit of the cg loop.
Activities: Lots to do here. We started at the Visitor Center to get a plan of action. We all enjoyed the chairlift ride down to the Tunnel. As Tricia likes to say, “I want to face my fears.” There is also Tunnel Trail (rated difficult with lots of switchbacks) for folks like Bill. I joined T&D for a few hikes and Gin joined us on the Stock Creek Trail to the less visited north side of the Tunnel. It goes right beside the creek and we had it all to ourselves, plus the deer. The sign up sheet for kayaking and canoeing were full before we got to it, but Tricia and I went on the Wild Cave Tour (Natural Tunnel Cavern) and got our shoes very muddy.
Us on site 12 with T&D on site 11
Site 12 has a shady patio
Visitor Center Train at the VC
Inside the Visitor Center
Jumping off point Gin & Dan enjoy the ride down
Steep section Almost there
Tricia & Dan enjoyed a couple extra rounds on the chairlift… up is easier!
Cliff of the Tunnel… Natural Tunnel… pictures do not do it justice!
Pedestrian rail crossing… Natural Tunnel one way and man made tunnel the other
Tracks going in to man made tunnel
Looking up from the Tunnel Motley Framily
Railway and Stock Creek at the Tunnel
Nice walk to Carter Cabin
Looking up at Lover’s Leap Looking at the cliff and Tunnel from Lover’s Leap
Stock Creek Trail is like a private walk in the woods next to a stream…
…that ends at the less visited side of the Tunnel
Train tracks going into the Tunnel Love the stepping stones
Gazebo from the Birding Trail Blockhouse Historic Area from the Birding Trail
Tunnel Trail is steep with lots of switchbacks
Let’s go caving! Happy but muddy