Clinch River and Clinch River Trail
Clinch River: The Clinch River is the crown of the mountain empire. Flowing southwestward from its origin near the town of Tazewell, the Clinch travels some 135 miles reaching portions of Tazewell, Russell, Wise, and Scott counties on its way to the Tennessee state line. In a cast of Virginia rivers that portray history and natural wealth, the Clinch has a story and a character all its own. The most famous explorer to pace the banks of the Clinch and challenge its currents was Daniel Boone. Boone resided for some time near Castlewood, VA and negotiated the river during his many trips through Southwest Virginia.
The Clinch supports a unique assemblage of aquatic life. The river is home to about 50 species of mussels, which is more than any other river in the world and over 100 species of non-game fish - minnows and darters that sport brilliant colors and play a vital role in the survival of other fish and mussel species. But, the variety of sport fish is what makes the Clinch a great destination for anglers. The Clinch River has a lot to offer those who want to escape the familiar and explore the life of a river. Whether you come to experience the fishing, or just to view the spectacular scenery, You are sure to enjoy an amazing Clinch River experience. Among the native game fish in the river are the smallmouth bass, spotted bass, walleye, and sauger. In fact, the Clinch and its tributaries are the only Virginia waters where sauger are present. Largemouth bass, rock bass, redbreast sunfish, longear sunfish, and bluegill sunfish are available, as well as musky, black crappie and freshwater drum. Anglers who are looking for catfish will find both channel and flathead catfish in good numbers and sizes.
Clinch River Adventures located in St. Paul offers tube, kayak and canoe rentals for recreational float trips and shuttle services are available May through September.
TIP: Some of the access points noted on the map are informal sites that have traditionally been used by anglers and floaters. To ensure that these sites are available for future use, respect all property. Please refrain from littering, and do not block roads or gates.
Clinch Trail: Located in St. Paul, this trail offers hikers and mountain bikers an eclectic tour of the town’s natural wonders, its storied history and future hopes.
The two-mile trail begins northwest of A.R. Matthews Park and travels along a well maintained path. Its terminus is at another trail system that starts from the town’s Oxbow Lake Park across U.S. Alternate Route 58. That system boasts eight miles of trails, as well as a quarter-mile trail the town installed around Oxbow Lake. St. Paul has approximately 12 miles of maintained trails.
On the Clinch Trail, visitors will stroll along Lick Creek as it flows toward the Clinch River. The trail follows the creek beneath a railroad bridge built in 1912, then plunges deeper into the riverside forest. Here, the trail forks, with bikers branching right onto another trail and hikers staying left.
The hiking trail continues along the Clinch River and offers a view of Bluebell Island, a 1.3-acre area owned by St. Paul that is now part of a conservation easement with the Nature Conservancy. Its namesake belongs to a flower that blooms in late spring along the trail. The path meanders along the river before emerging from the woods at A.R. Matthews Park, where it continues tracking the river before jotting up a hill and past an old red railroad caboose toward downtown St. Paul. The trail passes through the heart of downtown before rejoining the Clinch River near its terminus.