The Clinch

The most bio-diverse river in the Northern hemisphere.

From its headwaters in Tazewell to the Tennessee state line, the Clinch is the most bio-diverse of all rivers in the Northern hemisphere – home to the nation’s greatest concentration of rare and imperiled freshwater animals, and second only to the Amazon overall. It’s also considered the Heart of Appalachia’s nature-made waterpark!

From whitewater rafting, leisure kayaking, canoeing, canorkeling, fishing or swimming its waters, to hiking, birding/wildlife watching, picnicking, and camping along its banks, you can discover your own style of adventure on the Clinch!

Retrace the footsteps of the American history. Named for an otherwise forgotten explorer, the Clinch River played a major role in the exploration and settlement of southwestern Virginia. Early settlers made their homes along its eastern shore, while others crossed the formidable flow and explored the wilderness beyond; Daniel Boone among them. The Clinch River is an outdoor classroom covering many different subjects. Get to know the Clinch.

Click for ways to play on the Clinch

Hometowns of the Clinch

The Clinch is home to a number of increasingly vibrant communities. The region has a rich heritage and this most recent transformation testifies again to the bounty of the region. Visit. Get to know some of the good people along Virginia’s Hidden River.


At the headwaters of the Clinch, the Town of Tazewell’s historic architecture and mountain heritage complement a relaxing outdoor experience. Boat and fish at Lincolnshire Park, walk tree- lined streets of stately homes and visit Crab Orchard Museum’s Pioneer Park to experience stories of the region’s early settlement.


Even the pronunciation of
the name of this Tazewell
County economic hub
 stresses the importance of the natural resources. Rich lands, indeed! From coal boom town to cultural center along the Clinch, Richlands
 offers a unique look at late
19th architecture and several dining opportunities. Stretch your legs along the Town of Richlands’ Williams Field greenway path and let the young explorers loose at the Critterville Playground.


Lewis Creek passes through Honaker prior to meeting up with the Clinch. Cyclists on the TransAmerica Trail know the Redbud Capital of the World for its easy hospitality, starkly contrasting the physical punishment of Big A Mountain. And for drivers, it’s hard to pass this compact community without wanting to stop, take a downtown walk, and enjoy a home-style meal at one of several restaurants.


Explore a broad and gentle section of the Clinch in this Russell County community. Once a center for the movement of livestock, lumber, and coal, Cleveland is now a quiet hamlet surrounded by natural treasures. Sit on a mossy rock by a waterfall. Learn about the globally rare plant species protected nearby. Listen to traditional music at a riverside park. Cleveland is a perfect place to launch or end a day of great paddling.

Cedar Bluff

A restored gristmill nestled among the hills where Indian Creek meets the Clinch is just one of the great photo opportunities in Cedar Bluff. For more, hike to the top of Overlook Trail, study the unique geology of The Cut, or quietly watch for wildlife in a riverside park. Get to know the Clinch even better: ask a local resident for directions to the swimming hole.

St. Paul

A moving river experience flows throughout the Town of St. Paul. The ecological and commercial hub offers hiking trails, summertime tube floats, kayaking, off -road recreation, and a riverside disc golf course. But it’s okay to sit still too—perhaps after a hike on Bluebell Island or atop Sugar Hill, while bird watching at Wetlands Estonoa, or over a cup of coffee in a local restaurant or on Market Square on Saturday morning.


It’s easy to see why land-seeking Scots-Irish and English immigrants settled on this broad flat stretch along the Clinch in Scott County. For outdoor lovers, it’s a good choice for a day visit. Launch or take out here on your floating adventure. Enjoy the community and showmanship at Scott County Horse Park. Or travel the Dungannon and Clinch River Driving Tour and learn more about the area.

Things to Do

  • Sugar Hill Loop Trail

    This well-maintained hiking and biking trail extends nearly 8 miles around and over Sugar Hill, the large ridge north of Oxbow Lake Park. The trail climbs steeply to the ridge and then curves back...

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  • Clinch River Farmer's Market - St. Paul

    Each Saturday morning and Wednesday afternoon, May-October, Market Square in downtown St. Paul bursts with locally grown fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, honey and more.  Meet and mingle with...

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  • Cavitt's Creek Park/Lake Witten Rec. Area

    The 54 acre lake is part of the 164 acre Cavitt's Creek Park Campground. Quiet, breathtaking retreat for fun and relaxation, birding, hiking, camping, fishing and more. We offer: -Fully handicap...

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  • Little Stony National Recreation Trail

    Little Stony National Recreation Trail is located between Coeburn and Dungannon on a narrow gauge railroad bed that was constructed in the early 1900's for logging. The 2.8 mile trail follows the...

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Clinch River Photos


  • Visit the Clinch River
  • Clinch River (Wikipedia)
  • Clinch River (Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries)
  • Clinch River Valley Initative

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