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The Powell River Trail

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

Appalachia, Virginia

2.4 miles out and back

Rail to trail

Tam rated 1 (easy)

Fishing access


In the small coal town of Appalachia, in the heart of southwest Virginia, sits the Powell River Trail. This trail follows down the old L&N Railroad which was once a very important part of this coal community. In the parking lot you won't be able to miss the big red caboose.

At the very start of your trek, you'll cross the first of two bridges, which gives you a beautiful scenic view of the Powell River.

On my multiple strolls down this trail, I have seen various cranes hunting on the river from this bridge. So, bird watchers stay alert. Only moments after crossing the bridge you will be met with your very first bear warning sign. I only bring this up because in some cases. this is a deterrent for people to explore and enjoy a trail.

I encourage you to not let that be the case. As I stated above, I have walked this path numerous times and never actually encountered a bear, though I have seen scat directly on the path. I have heard stories, however, of acquaintances who have seen bears on the trail, so stay alert. It's also important to note please practice safe LNT (leave no trace) principals. There are numerous bear resistant trash bins along the path, there is no excuse to leave food and trash.

The trail follows along the river which gives you both glimpses of the water and the relaxing sounds as it roars on its way. The thick canopy of greenery overhead keeps the trail shady in the summer and beautiful in the fall. Don't miss the opportunity to sit on one of the many benches to breath it all in.

There are two tunnels on this route and if you take the time to read the trail signs along the way, you'll get a good bit of history, where you'll learn more about the popular Bee Rock tunnel and it's short lived claim to fame.

On each side of the two tunnels you'll be presented with a good opportunity for some stylish selfies and group pics with the mountain's rocky outcrops in the backdrop.

On the very last bridge crossing, the path really opens up, giving you a gorgeous view of the Powell River. Hands down the best spot on the trail.

Fearful of encountering a bear? Click the link below to find out what exactly you should do when encountering one.

No, leaving your friends behind for a little bear snack is not recommended, though sometimes "you gotta do what you gotta do."


As always, keep it safe, keep it cool, and stay curious.

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