My last post ended with me bugging-out of Breaks Interstate Park earlier than anticipated due to approaching thunderstorms. I’d mapped-out a route the previous evening that took me on a meandering trek along and south of the Virginia/Kentucky border through the counties of Dickenson, Wise, and Lee. (I’m trying to hit all of the counties in Virginia.)
Since the radar images I’d seen had looked so ominous, I eliminated some of the higher-elevation roads, following a route that should still take me through all three of those counties.
The first part of the route was especially nice. And I actually got to enjoy the twisty roads as I outran the rain.
As I was making my way past Norton, I noticed signs for the High Knob Lookout tower and made a spur-of-the-moment decision to check it out. I’m glad I did. The road to and from the tower was reminiscent of riding in the Swiss Alps, except with a lot more trees.
I’d remembered reading about the spot at some point, which is described on the virginia.org website as follows:
A brand new observation tower with a long history opened in 2014 atop High Knob Recreation Area. At an elevation of 4,223 feet, the original tower built in the 30s burned down 40 years later. In 1978, Flatwoods Job Corp. built a new three story tower that met its demise by arson in 2007. Thanks to a dedicated community of volunteers in partnership with the Clinch Ranger District, a new, fire-proof tower to compliment and showcase the spectacular view of 5 states was erected. It has become a symbol of hope, like the legendary phoenix rising from the ashes, offering locals and visitors alike an unparalleled view from Stone Mountain.
I’m glad I decided to visit when I did. I pretty much had the whole place to myself. I only passed one other vehicle on my way up to the tower and back down! The place would probably suck during prime season, as the road is so narrow, steep, and jam-packed with very tight curves I can almost guarantee it gets clogged by very poky four-wheeled-vehicle traffic.
The view was impressive. And ominous, depending on which direction I was facing.
It was pretty clear that I’d be getting wet at some point that day.
It was quite windy up there, and I enjoyed watching the clouds scurry across the sky.
It only drizzled a little as I made my way back town the mountain. I continued west and south, heading toward the town of Pennington Gap for no other reason than it sits in Lee County. I also wanted to ride through Gate City, Virginia, in the complete opposite direction. That’s why, soon after passing the Lee County sign, I decided to nix Pennington Gap, and headed south then east along US-58.
I’m glad I did, because I saw some fun stuff along the way. Like this cute farm.
Really, just look at the animals among the Buttercups. 😊
Here’s some more stuff I saw along the way…
A little further along, I came to an almost-screeching stop when I spotted two barn quilts along the highway. This cow was quite intrigued by me.
I had to backtrack a bit, on foot, to get an acceptable shot of the other one.
My “friend” kept an eye on me the entire time.
I continued into Gate City from there. I did a few laps of the downtown area looking for their elusive LOVEwork. I was hungry, so sorta gave up on finding the LOVEwork (it had been missing two years ago, too, the LAST time I rode to that remote town specifically to see the LOVEwork!).
I pulled into the parking lot of a very small diner. Just as I dismounted, it started raining. Pouring, actually. Perfect timing! I was able to site and enjoy a leisurely lunch of fried pickles along with a homemade cheeseburger and French fries. It was all delicious.
I plotted the rest of my route while I ate. As luck would have it, as I pulled out of town onto the main highway, look what I saw!
I didn’t even care that it was still raining. I was so tickled to see the LOVEwork. What are the chances of my getting to that very remote part of the state again any time soon?
From there, it was off to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to see something I’d been wanting to see for a few years.