Backpack to White Rocks in Cumberland Gap National Historic Park

Rate this Adventure Civic Park, Ewing VA, Ewing, Virginia, United States

  • Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    6.4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2000 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Challenge yourself to a heart-pounding uphill hike for a payoff that includes incredible vistas and an isolated backcountry site.

Cumberland Gap National Historic Park encompasses more than 20,000 acres of mountainous terrain spread out across Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The park offers miles of trails and many historic curiosities, including the actual saddle where pioneers first found their way over the Cumberland Mountains on their way to Western frontiers. 

The Ridge Trail offers multiple backpacking sites, and there are multiple ways to access it. The backcountry site at White Rocks, however, is best reached via the Ewing Trail. To find the trailhead for the Ewing Trail, park your car at the Civic Park in the small town of Ewing, VA. 

The 2.5 miles of the Ewing Trail will lead you up seemingly-endless switchbacks as you gain almost 2000ft in elevation. Along the way you'll come across stunning vistas of the valley below and glimpse the white rocks you're bound for looming high above your head. Make no mistake: this hike is difficult and requires a lot of strength and water. 

When you reach the junction for the White Rocks trail, you can continue right for less than a(nother uphill) mile to the campsite and outcropping, or you can veer left for a worthwhile detour to Sand Cave. If you do opt for Sand Cave, you will meet up with the aforementioned Ridge Trail and take that to the site, without having to backtrack.

The sites themselves are spread out and buried in some seriously luscious forest. A 5-minute walk from the site, you will reach the outcropping known as White Rocks where the mountains stretch out into farmland before you. Enjoy the view and a good night's rest--you earned it. 

(While you're in the area, head over the Pineville to experience the incomparable Chained Rock.) 

Pack List

  • Park map
  • Water filtration gear
  • Water
  • Camera
  • Good boots (trails are rocky!)
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Ashley Stimpson

chesapeake-based backpacker and travel writer. sometimes paddler, wannabe birder. there's such a lot of world to see.

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