Like many of you, I have experienced a growing angst the past several days about the future well-being of our community, and of myself. A simple sneeze or tickle in my throat now takes on a much greater concern and attention from me than it used to. My dear mom always had the market cornered when it came to hypochondria, but I fear at times I am being drawn into the same fearful and sullen attitude.

Being locked up in the house does not help either. If our minds are not busy with productive thoughts, it is easy to dwell on the negative ones. It all seemed to well up in me last Saturday, so I decided I had to do something about it. It was time for me to go see the doctor.

The belief that there is a healing power in nature has been held since the very beginning. Even the Father of Physicians, Hippocrates, wisely told mankind that “nature itself is the best physician.”

For me personally, I have grown from a simple belief or hope in this idea to a passionate confidence and expectation in its reality. So I grabbed my gear and camera and headed off for some healing.

On this particular day, I found the doctor at the base of Rocky Knob in the peaceful sanctum of Rock Castle Gorge. The morning was overcast and hazy, but no sooner had I parked and walked to the trailhead, the sun broke out over the valley.

The rains of the past several weeks had swelled the waters of Rock Castle Creek. The music it made as it rumbled over the large boulders immediately calmed my spirit. It was the healing sound of nature.

It was good to see a considerable number of patients there with me, none of whom wore frowns or sullen expressions. The woods were full of smiles and friendly greetings today. No one spoke of the fears and concerns of what they left behind at their jobs or homes; they collectively soaked in the calm of the surroundings.

What makes the Rocky Knob Recreational Area such a great destination is the fact that it quite simply has everything a person could be looking for. Want magnificent views? Done. Perhaps you need a clean, quiet picnic area? No problem. Maybe you just want a short, easy trail to stretch your legs? It’s there. Hankering for a brutal strenuous 11-mile hike? It is one of the best around. All this, then add to it one of the more stunning cascading creeks to be found in our region.

And it’s so close to home. Rocky Knob creates the border between Floyd and Patrick counties. It takes up a 3-mile stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway between mile markers 167 and 170. There you will find ample parking and three separate overlooks.

Many people like to access the area at the gorge level along Rock Castle Creek. You can find this access just north of Woolwine on Virginia 8 by taking CC Camp Lane (Virginia 605) to the East Trailhead of Rock Castle Gorge. There is a small parking area that can accommodate about a dozen cars.

For more information, check out the National Park Service at If you want more detailed information about the trails in this area, check out the Rock Castle Gorge article on

Practice your social distancing for sure, but why not practice it in a way and in a place that helps refresh your mind, body and spirit? There is no better time, and for no better reason than we have right now. Go on then, get wild.

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