Places We Protect

Bottom Creek Gorge Preserve

Virginia

View through the trees of a wooded overlook looking at a narrow waterfall. The water cascades over the bare rock face.
Bottom Creek Overlook Overlook at Virginia's Bottom Creek Gorge. © Glenna Goldman / The Nature Conservancy

Enjoy spectacular scenery and views of the second highest waterfall in Virginia.

Overview

Description

COVID-19 UPDATE (September 25, 2020)

TNC’s public preserves in Virginia remain open. We ask all visitors to observe our preserve access guidelines and to follow current health and safety precautions, including guidance from the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others (social distancing).

Thank you for helping us in our efforts to protect our visitors’ health and well-being.


One of the headwater streams of the South Fork of the Roanoke River, Bottom Creek is a powerful mountain stream that forms a stair-step series of broad-basin waterfalls known as "The Kettles." 

It's a hotbed for rare aquatic species, providing critical habitat for four native species of fish: 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.

Please note: fishing is not permitted in the preserve.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Please note: dogs are not allowed at this preserve.

Hours

Open daily, dawn to dusk

Size

1,657 acres

Explore our work in this region

Get Involved: Preserve Volunteer Program

Virginia's Preserve Volunteer Community Program provides a vital service to help us maintain and monitor our public preserves across the state.

How can you get involved?

  • Community Members—become involved with a preserve without committing time to stewardship work. Receive periodic updates about the preserve and special events.
  • Preserve Stewards—visit Bottom Creek Gorge at least 4 times a year to assess trail and preserve conditions and perform basic trail maintenance by removing fallen branches and overgrown vegetation.
  • Preserve Leaders—demonstrated commitment to the preserve and willingness to take on additional responsibilities like managing communication & scheduling, leading workdays and guiding naturalist hikes.

Please contact Jen Dalke, volunteer coordinator, at 434-951-0572 or jdalke@tnc.org to receive further information.

Download the Bottom Creek Gorge Preserve Volunteer Program handbook to learn more.

Bottom Creek Gorge has 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.

Winter weather can impact road conditions. Visitors should be aware of the possibility of wash outs or large holes on the road leading into the preserve and can park on the road shoulder.

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.

View through the trees of a narrow waterfall.
Bottom Creek Gorge
Enjoy spectacular scenery and views of the second highest waterfall in Virginia.

Bottom Creek Gorge Spectacular scenery and the second highest waterfall in Virginia.