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WILLIAMSON — The Tug Valley Area Convention and Visitors Bureau recently unveiled a new section of their web page titled “Hiking in Coal Country,” that is designed to promote the hiking opportunities available right here in the Tug Valley area.

The page highlights several of the popular local hiking destinations that are all located within a 3.5 mile radius of downtown Williamson.

While most of the country has been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tug Valley Area CVB Executive Director Wes Wilson has been encouraging people to get out and enjoy some of the natural scenes that the area has to offer while still practicing their social distancing.

“What a great marriage if you will of getting outside, getting some exercise in, practicing your social distancing, and your getting to see some really neat stuff that is right here in our backyard,” Wilson said.

The “Hiking in Coal Country” web page highlights eight different rock formations, including Picnic Rock, Castle Rock, Death Rock, Shoe Rock, North Wall Rock, Eagle Rock, and Bottle Rock.

Readers can click on photos of each of the destinations for detailed directions for each hike and a visual map showing the optimum hiking trail highlighted via a snapshot from Google Earth.

Each separate hike is also labeled with the difficulty of that particular hike so that novice hikers of people with families can choose which hike would be best for them.

“What I really love about all of these hikes is that they are all right here in the Williamson area,” Wilson said. “Bottle Rock is definitely its own hike but in one day you can hike to Death Rock, Shoe Rock, and Eagle Rock all in a day because their all on that same ridge. And then the same thing about Picnic Rock and Castle Rock, you park halfway up Airport Mountain and you are about half a mile to Picnic Rock and about .3 or .4 tenths of a mile on out to Castle Rock. So you kind of get three “mini-hikes” amongst the four different places you can get.”

Wilson said that the best hike for novice hikers or a family with young children would probably be the hike to Picnic Rock and Castle Rock but said that Bottle Rock is probably the areas most popular hike and Death Rock is the areas “hidden gem” and “crown jewel” as it offers a view of the Tug Valley from 1,200 feet up in the sky.

“You just can’t beat Death Rock...there’s a picnic table up there now which is really neat. Once you get to the top you can sit down and eat and take a break. And the view of town from up there, you just can’t top it,” Wilson said. “There’s some neat places around here and throughout Mingo and Pike County but to me there’s not a point where your that close to the edge looking down and can see the whole town, and the river, and where can you see two states like that? That is our crown jewel.”

Wilson said that he hopes to get each rock formation, except for Bottle Rock which is located in Kentucky, added to the official Hatfield and McCoy Trails Map so that riders can also ride to each destination once the trails open back up.

Wilson also wanted to remind everyone to be weary of their surroundings at all times while in the mountains and to be on the look out for poisonous snakes such as copperheads and rattle snakes which both call Appalachia home

“Please be aware of your surroundings at ANY of these locations as you visit them. Situational awareness is very important when hiking in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky,” Wilson wrote on the CVB webpage. “All of the hikes do include places that may not be suitable for small children or adult supervision would be recommended. Take in the scenes and enjoy the beauty of Coal Country but most importantly, be safe!”

For more information on the different hiking destinations located in the Williamson area visit www.visitcoalcountry.org/hiking.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.