Raccoon Branch Wilderness is located in Smyth County in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in southwest Virginia. It contains extremely rugged country rising to a height of 4,000 feet on the high point of Dickey Ridge. The ridges are capped with resistant lower Cambrian quartzite, which is responsible for the great variations in altitude within the area. The area is dissected by numerous high gradient and deeply incised streams, all of which flow into the South Fork of the Holston River. The vegetation is diverse with cove hardwoods in the protected valleys and more xeric oak-pine on the ridges. Fraser fir is found at the highest elevations.
Six trails totaling 16 miles provide access to the area for hunters, fishermen, hikers and horseback riders. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T., FT #1) traverses the area for about 4 miles. Trail information is available on National Geographic-Trails Illustrated Maps # 786 (Mount Rogers), and # 318 (Mount Rogers High Country). The Hurricane and Raccoon Branch campgrounds, located just outside the wilderness, are convenient access points for visiting the wilderness.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Raccoon Branch Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 - Public law 111-11 (3/30/2009) An act to designate certain land as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, to authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes.