The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Dan River Gorge - The Grand Canyon of the East

By Bob Heafner © 1984-2012

Issue: July, 1984

Click photos below to see larger image.
dan river gorgeA section of the original Appalachian Trail which leads to the top of the Pinnacles of Dan. dan river gorge 2This pipeline carries water from the "Lower Dam” to the Hydro-Electric Plant in Kibler Valley. The boards and handrail are a part of the Pipeline Trail. The line tunnels through the mountain at the end of this stretch of line. dan river gorge 3An overhanging rock forms a cave-like shelter along the Pipeline Trail. Shown is Charles Dalton of Meadows of Dan. dan river gorge 4Charles Dalton can be seen standing on one of the lesser peaks of the Pinnacles of Dan as he looks across and into the Dan River Gorge which borders three sides of the Pinnacles of Dan. The Dan River can be heard from this point, rushing through the Gorge almost a thousand feet below.

Last month we began a series of monthly articles about the Dan River Gorge, which has been referred to as "The Grand Canyon of the East", the Appalachian Trail and the Pinnacles of Dan. This month we'd like to introduce to you this wild rugged area through the following photographs and the accompanying article written by Y.O.C. , who recalls camping in the "Gorge" during the early part of this century. While the Appalachian Trail has been officially re-routed, the old original trail is still clearly marked through this area and still offers what has been described as the most spectacular views along the entire Appalachian Trail.

This is a breathtakingly beautiful area that is steeped in local history and folklore. There are stories of a lost silver mine and Indian villages and a remoteness that belies its close proximity to the major cities of North Carolina and Virginia. Next month, we will explore this fascinating area more and examine the two high mountain lakes that offer excellent fishing where the sound of motor boats never break nature's silence. A place where a fisherman can spend the day and never see another person.

It is a place where those who love the outdoors can find the mountains of fifty or a hundred years ago and those who are lost in a fast paced modern world can find themselves.