Elevation: 3,287 ft
GPS: 36.919, -82.627 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 34,614 total · 495/month
Shared By: Aaron Parlier on Aug 18, 2013
Admins: Aaron Parlier, Shawn Heath, Jake Jones
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In Wise County VA, there is a TON of really good sandstone. High cliffs, big boulders, and beautiful views. Flag Rock is a cool little park with several great boulder problems located along High Knob Rd, and there are perfect sandstone boulders near the lower reservoir. Beyond this and more toward High Knob is The Labyrinth, another massive boulder field. Further on is Osborne Gap with even more boulders, and also several other block-filled ravines and hollers with nice boulders. So much sandstone!

Getting There

Basically in the middle of Norton, VA.

The Flag Rock Recreation area is located on Rt. 619, Three miles above the City of Norton.

Address: 1348 Flag Rock Road, Norton, Virginia 24273
GPS: 36.915307, -82.631433


High Knob is found on the western front of the Appalachian Mountain range along the mountainous southeastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau of Southwest Virginia. It is unique to Virginia, containing both Appalachian Plateau and Ridge and Valley topography. The High Knob Massif is home to phenomenal climbing, wonderful trails, streams, fishing, camping, hunting, and a whole host of biologically diverse habitats. Below is a wide overview covering some of what makes this location so special.

The High Knob landform is gigantic in relation to most other sections of Central Appalachia that are North of Mount Rogers. Being a member of the Cumberland Mountains (separate from the Blue Ridge), High Knob is the tallest mountain of the Cumberland Mountain Range which also includes Pine Mountain, Cumberland Mountain, Log Mountain, Little Black Mountain and Black (Big Black) Mountain, as well as many others. High Knob is frequently referred to as a massif, with the term “massif” used to denote the main mass of an individual mountain. The word is taken from French (in which the word also means "massive"), where it is used to refer to a large mountain mass or compact group of connected mountains forming an independent portion of a range.

High Knob massif is one of the most significant physical features in Virginia and is among the widest singular mountains in the southern Appalachians, being locally greater than 13 miles wide from base to base and more than 26 miles long. The High Knob landform stretches across portions of southern Wise County, northern Scott County, and the northeastern tip of Lee County. High Knob represents the "pivot point" of the Cumberland Mountain Overthrust Block which is responsible for the wonderful, bullet hard, lee-type sandstone of the Early Pennsylvanian Age. Softer rocks have been eroded away, leaving the resistant sandstone formations found throughout the region.

Although some 1,000 to 1,500 feet lower in elevation than the Mount Rogers high country to the east (Mount Rogers is the highest peak in Virginia), the terrain surrounding the High Knob massif of Stone Mountain forms a true high country with respect to the western slopes of the Appalachians.

The High Knob area of Stone Mountain forms one of the greatest natural areas in the eastern United States. Today its calcareous heart has been breached by massive erosion to expose an ecologically renowned karst landscape which stretches from the Powell Valley area of Wise County, southwest across the Powell River Valley of Lee County to the Norris Lake of Tennessee. Drainage from High Knob has also formed hydrologically complex conduit systems which have directly led to formation of the magnificent Natural Tunnel and Rye Cove Karst Basin of Scott County where endemic species such as the Rye Cove Isopod are found.

The summit of High Knob in particular exerts a significant impact upon the climate of Southwest Virginia and surrounding areas, being one of the rainiest and snowiest locations in both Virginia and the southern Appalachians. This orographically forced climate has, through the vastness of time, worked in unison with the geology and topography to create a richly diverse landscape possessing vast biological diversity.

High Knob unofficially holds the record for the most snow ever measured in Virginia during a single season, with 200.5 inches during the winter of 1995–96. During a typical year, 60.0 inches to 70.0 inches of total precipitation falls across the area, making it one of the wettest areas north of the Great Smokies, and the wettest in Virginia. Significant additional moisture contributions occur from fog drip off trees and rime deposition on trees, with many days during the year being spent amid orographic feeder butts that cap its upper elevations.

On a clear day, four other states can be seen from the summit: West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina.

(Big thanks to Wikipedia for all of that ^^^)

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Reckon this is the closest bouldering to Kingsport, TN? I'm heading down for the weekend and am trying to find a close spot to check out. Nov 20, 2015
Aaron Parlier
Boone, NC
Aaron Parlier   Boone, NC  
Yeah Quinn, check it out! The sandstone is great and approach is short. Nov 21, 2015
G Man  
Anyone know if there's been any recent development here? I'd love to come down and check this place out/see what the area has to offer! Feb 17, 2017
Aaron Parlier
Boone, NC
Aaron Parlier   Boone, NC  
There has been development over this past year, and for several years prior. There is certainly room for more development too! If you plan a trip and would like more details just give me a shout. Most everything that has been climbed here is currently listed on MP. Feb 18, 2017