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Roaming Gnome | profile | all galleries >> Places >> Virginia >> Far Southwest Virgina >> Clinch Mountain & Environs >> Russell Co. >> Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve

• Communicate. Be sure someone knows where you plan to visit and when to expect your return.
• Abide by all posted rules and regulations.
• Practice Safety: Don't behave recklessly.
• Completely extinguish camp fires.
• Don’t Litter. Take all of your trash with you when you leave and dispose of it properly.
• Don’t pick, dig-up, or remove plants or wildflowers – it’s against the law.
• Don't feed or antagonize animals.
• Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photographs and memories.

The "Pinnacle" is a singularly unique and magical place of wondrous natural beauty that never ceases to amaze. New discoveries abound with each visit. Scientific studies here continue. Unquestionably, the "Pinnacle" is a very sensitive, fragile. and valuable natural resource. Enjoy it. Protect it.

The "Pinnacle" is part of the Clinch Valley Bioreserve. According to the Nature Conservancy, the Clinch Valley Bioreserve is one of the world's last great places. It is the most ecologically diverse region of Virginia, unmatched in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States.
• It spans a 200-square-mile area across seven southwest Virginia counties and four northeast Tennessee counties.
• Includes watersheds of the Clinch, Powell, and Holston rivers, which form the headwaters of the Tennessee River system.

Within the Clinch Valley Bioreserve are:
• 400 species of rare plants and animals
• 16 species of rare fish
• Approx 40 species of freshwater mussels, of which 26 species are listed as globally rare and 13 as federally endangered
• At least 50 globally rare cave organisms.

Named for a prominent rock outcrop known as the "Pinnacle", the Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve is resident within the Clinch River Watershed, embracing 683 acres surrounding Big Cedar Creek and its confluence with the Clinch River. A document published by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) states that the Clinch River Watershed contains the highest number of globally imperiled and vulnerable freshwater species in the United States. The waters in and around the preserve are globally-renowned for their rich diversity of aquatic life.

Following is an amalgam of what I’ve learned about the history of the “Pinnacle” through conversations and sparse internet documents. Going forward I’m endeavoring to validate its accuracy and flesh it out. Presumably prior to 1946 the primary tract of land at the confluence of Big Cedar Creek and the Clinch River was a farm owned by the Sykes family. Indeed a Sykes family cemetery is located on the preserve adjacent to the lower parking area. In approx. 1946 the land somehow came into the possession of Russell Co and was managed as Big Cedar Creek Park. In 1978 the Youth Conservation Corps added un-named trails and some picnic tables. When Russell Co. learned of the tract’s ecological significance the property was deeded to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in 1989. In 1992 TNC turned the property over to the Commonwealth for designation as a State Natural Area. Since that time DCR has acquired adjacent properties that have been incorporated into the Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve.

The "Pinnacle" is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. As a natural area preserve its facilities are sparse. There are picnic tables near the swinging bridge at the entrance and at the fisherman's shelter in the lower parking area. Dug-out toilets are located in the lower parking area. There are no trash cans or dumpsters in the preserve, so please please don't litter. Whatever you "pack in, pack out" and dispose of properly. Litter of all kinds - not just bottles, cans, and wrappers, but fish hooks, fishing line, bait containers, etc. - is hazardous to wildlife and an eyesore. Make an effort to keep the preserve as natural and beautiful as possible.

Public use includes:
• Hiking (>6 miles of trails)
• Fishing (Stocked with trout. Appropriate license and stamps are required)
• Canoeing
• Kayaking (Determined by American Whitewater to be a class I-III section)
• Nature Studies
• Photography

Not allowed:
• Horseback Riding
• Mountain Biking
• Rock Climbing
• Off-Road Vehicles
• Camping
• Collecting Plants, Animals or Minerals

The Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve is located approx. 7 miles northwest from the town of Lebanon. Historic Lebanon hosts shoppping, several hotels/motels, and restaurants.

• From I-81 at Abingdon, take ALT 58 west through town to U.S. Route 19 north.
• Go about 20 miles to Business 19 into Lebanon (exit 1).
• At the second light, turn left on Route 82 west.
• Go 1.1 mile to Route 640 (River Mountain Road) and turn right.
• Go 4.2 miles and turn left on Route 721 (a gravel road).
• Go 0.8 mile to the parking area on the left.

• Richlands - approx. 25 mi.
• Bluefield - approx. 60 mi.
• Norton - approx. 50 mi.
• Abingdon - approx. 25 mi.
• Damascus - approx. 50 mi.
• Marion - approx. 50 mi.
• Wytheville - approx. 75 mi.
• Christiansburg - approx. 110 mi.
• Roanoke - approx. 160 mi.
• Bristol, VA/TN - approx. 50 mi.
• Kingsport, TN - approx. 50 mi.
• Johnson City, TN - approx. 65 mi.
• Knoxville, TN - approx 160 mi.
• Ashville, NC - approx 120 mi.

A few other nearby outdoor recreation areas that you may wish to also visit include:
• Clevland Barrens Natural Area Preserve
• Hidden Valley Lake
• Channels State Forest including the Channels Natural Area Preserve on Brumley Mountain
• The Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area including the Red Rock Mountain Natural Area Preserve
• Breaks Interstate Park
• The Falls of Little Stony, Bark Camp Lake, and High Knob in the Jefferson National Forest in Wise Co.
• Natural Tunnel State Park
• Hungry Mother State Park
• South Holston Lake
• The Virginia Creeper Trail
• Grayson Highlands State Park
• Whitetop Mountain
• The Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

Websites that have additional information about the Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve:
• Virginia Dept. of Conservation and Recreation at
• Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at
• The Nature Conservancy at
• Trails-R-Us at
• Adventure Damascus at
• Sherpa Guides at

Publications for reference include:
• "Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail: Discover Our Wild Side" published by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
• "Highroad Guide to the Virginia Mountains" by Deane Winegar, Deane, Garvey Winegar
• "The Clinch River: A World-Class Treasure" by Frank Kilgore and Stacy Fowler Horton
• "Roadside Geology of Virginia" by Keith Frye
• "A Guide to Endangered and Threatened Species in Virginia"; coordinatrd by Karen Terwilliger and John R. Tate with abridgement by Susan L. Woodward
• "Waterfalls of Virginia and West Virginia: A Hiking and Photography Guide" by Kevin Adams
• "Southwest Virginia Crossroads: An Almanac of Place Names and Places to See" by Joe Tennis
• "The Pinnacle Of Beauty"; an article by Joe Tennis, Features Writer/Bristol Herald Courier; Published: December 18, 2008

Pinnacle NAP Activities
:: Pinnacle NAP Activities ::
Pinnacle NAP Trails
:: Pinnacle NAP Trails ::
Pinnacle NAP: Fauna
:: Pinnacle NAP: Fauna ::
Pinnacle NAP: Flora
:: Pinnacle NAP: Flora ::
Pinnacle NAP: Geology and Natural Communities
:: Pinnacle NAP: Geology and Natural Communities ::
Pinnacle NAP: Invasive Species
:: Pinnacle NAP: Invasive Species ::
Pack Out Your Trash Sign.JPG
Pack Out Your Trash Sign.JPG