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Explore the beauty of Johnson County in summer splendor

By: Lacy Hilliard
Tomahawk Writer/Photographer

Miles of Creek Systems- Miles upon miles of creek systems twist and snake their way throughout Johnson County. These meandering waters provide habitats for various forms of wildlife including fish, birds of all colors and stature, turtles and more. Many of the creeks that make their way through the sparsely populated areas of the county are rarely explored and offer treasures unknown. Hidden waterfalls that drop into cool swimming holes exist in every corner of the county. Rhododendron thicket lines much of the creek system. As the rhododendron blooms in late June and early July, the forest comes alive with shades of pink and white. Set against the backdrop of the clean flowing water, Johnson County’s creeks are a sight to behold.

Hidden Wonders-
Backbone Rock was formed in the early 1900’s when settlers began pioneering their way through ancient Appalachian rock in order to facilitate the birth of the railroad. Today, Scenic Highway 133 curves around miles of rushing creek and through uninhabited forestland. The modern day Backbone Rock boasts several recreational areas and campgrounds. The hike to the top of the rock is astounding as you find yourself nestled in the treetops with a view fit for a King. Surrounding the Backbone Rock Recreation Area are several other trails, some that eventually hook up with the famous Appalachian Trail which makes its way through much of Johnson County. When accessed in Damascus, Virginia, Highway 133 eventually makes its way to another Johnson County crowned jewel –Shady Valley. Shady Valley is beautiful at every time of year but it’s famous for its autumn glory. The Nature Conservancy holds an office in Shady where they work to protect Shady Valley’s natural cranberry bogs. The conservancy offers tours of the bogs free of charge. The organization is always hard at work protecting over 700 acres of land. Both Backbone Rock and Shady Valley are just two of Johnson County’s hidden wonders.

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