Open to the Public
Download a map of Bottom Creek Gorge. View All
Why You Should Visit
One of the head-water streams of the South Fork of the Roanoke River, Bottom Creek boasts a 200-foot high waterfall. Bottom Creek is a powerful mountain stream that forms a stair-step series of broad-basin waterfalls known as "The Kettles." Flanking Bottom Creek are forests of mixed hardwoods (tulip poplar, maple, oak, hickory) and upland meadows. Bottom Creek Gorge also contains virgin hemlocks and hundreds of wildflowers.
Review Preserve Guidelines. Please note: dogs are not allowed at any Conservancy preserve.
Open daily, dawn to dusk
There are more than five miles of moderate trails. An old road takes hikers up a hill, and then there are three branches of trail. There are no restrooms.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
Bottom Creek Gorge is a hotbed for rare aquatic species. It contains three rare fish and one globally rare plant.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
The Conservancy has improved the trails at Bottom Creek Gorge while reducing their impact on surrounding habitat. Researchers continue to monitor the rare species, and Conservancy staff are working with adjacent private landowners on conservation easements.
Bottom Creek has a great view of the second-largest waterfall in Virginia.
This preserve is a peaceful hike in Montgomery County, Virginia.
Download a trail map of Bottom Creek Gorge Preserve (PDF).
What to See: Fish
Bottom Creek is critical habitat for four species of fish native to the headwaters of the Roanoke River: the orangefin madtom, the bigeye jumprock, the riverweed darter, and the Roanoke darter. It also contains approximately 10 percent of all fish species known from Virginia, including native brook trout.
What to See: Plants
A half-acre shale barren provides habitat for the globally rare chestnut lipfern. Formerly known only from north-central Mexico to the southwestern United States, this lipfern occurs in isolated patches in southwestern Virginia and eastern West Virginia.
An old-growth hemlock forest rising from the north side of the creek remained largely untouched due to its inaccessibility. A mix of forest and field covers the rest of the preserve. Mixed hardwood stands of tulip poplar, maple, oak and hickory are complemented by several meadows and dense rhododendron thickets in ravines.
While black bear populations are healthy in the western part of the state, you are unlikely to encounter a bear while visiting one of our preserves.
More often than not, a wild bear will detect you first and flee from the area. However, black bears that have become accustomed to humans and their foods may not run away. In these cases, certain precautions are offered for consideration (source: USFS):
- Do not run. Remain calm, continue facing the bear and slowly back away.
- Keep children and pets close at hand.
- Make lots of noise. Yell, rattle pots and pans, whistle and break sticks.
- Travel in groups.
- Stand upright. Do not kneel or bend over. Wave arms, jackets or other materials.
- Never approach or corner a bear.
- Never offer food to a bear.
- Be aware of the presence of cubs and never come between a bear and its cubs.
- Fight back aggressively if a bear attacks you.
For more information, contact the Virginia program office at (434) 295-6106.
GPS coordinates to help aid your drive:
37.130829 latitude, -80.180562 longitude
From Roanoke and points north:
- From I-81, take exit #141, Route 419 south, to Salem.
- Go south on Route 419 for about eight miles to Route 221 at Cave Spring.
- Take winding Route 221 south for 13.8 miles to Route 644.
- You will pass through the town of Bent Mountain, then pass an entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway on your left. About 0.6 miles past the Parkway entrance, turn right on Route 644.
- After 1.1 miles, the road forks. Stay to the right on Route 669.
- Continue straight on Route 669. DO NOT turn right on Bottom Creek Road.
- After 1.5 miles, you will come to a "Y" intersection. Bear slightly right, staying on Route 669. Travel past the apple farm.
- Soon you will be driving alongside Bottom Creek on your left. After 1.3 miles, you will cross a small bridge. Look for the Preserve sign on your left. Turn left at the sign and go up the gravel driveway to the gate.
- Park on the side of the road at the gate. Walk about half a mile up the gravel road to the trailheads where you will find another sign and trail maps.
From Blacksburg and Christiansburg:
- Take Route 11/460 northeast to the town of Shawsville.
- At Shawsville, turn right on Route 637 (Allegheny Springs Road).
- Stay on this road all the way to the first stop sign in Simpsons. [NOTE: after about seven miles, Route 637 turns to the left while Route 653 continues straight. DO NOT turn left on Route 637, but stay straight on Route 653 to Simpsons].
- At the stop sign, turn left on Route 610.
- At the next stop sign, turn left on Route 221. Stay on Route 221 for about seven miles.
- You will pass through the town of Copper Hill. Turn left on Route 644.
- After 1.1 miles, the road forks. Stay to the right on Route 669. Follow the above directions from this point.