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Mount Rogers Virginia 

The "Crown" of the Virginia Highlands

MAP

Skill:

Intermediate

Water:

Filter it, of course. Thomas Knob, Rhododendron Gap

Pros:

 Views, Wild Ponies  

Cons:

Crowds

Notes:

Highest point in Virginia.  The "Horse Campground" is more friendly and closer to the trail head than the "Family Campground".

Mt. Rogers Photos | Mt. Rogers Map | Trail Information 

Area Road Map | The Map Room

The Highlands

Close to the border of North Carolina and close to my heart is Grayson Highlands State Park and the Mount Rogers High Country.  This popular hiking destination is fun to visit in any season. The sweeping views from the balds , wild ponies and the plentiful trails contribute to the reasons that so many visit this area. The Park itself has all of the amenities that you may need and is a great base camp for day hikes or backpacking trips.  Probably the greatest feature of the park, however, is its proximity to the wide open balds of the surrounding National Forests.

 
 
The Little Wilson Creek Wilderness, Lewis Fork Wilderness, and the Mount Rogers National Recreation area are adjacent to Grayson Highlands. Trails criss cross all of these areas giving many choices for loop hikes to experienced hikers and confusing the rest. The Virginia Highlands Horse Trail and the Appalachian Trail are two of the more famous trails in this area. Camping. isn't allowed outside of the campgrounds in the State Park however the National Forest land is only a mile away so it is just a short but steep hike to where you can camp anywhere.

Begin this hike from Massie Gap, either from the overnight or day parking lot. Hikers will usually catch their first glimpse of wild ponies before they leave Grayson Highlands. The State Park as well as the National Forests are home to herds of these friendly animals. Once a year The forest Service will round up the ponies, herd them to an coral,check them for any health problems and to decide which ones to auction.

The Rhododendron Gap trail begins at Massie Gap, has blue blazes and is very easy to follow. There are two trail heads for hikers, one is at Massie Gap for day hikers and the other starts at a separate parking lot for backpackers. As you start your hike you will pass through a gate that was installed to keep the ponies in the park. The trail is an old road that the Park Rangers use occasionally to search for lost hikers, to maintain the fences and to round up the ponies. There is a short steep climb and in just a few short minutes you will see your first view.

 
 
The Rhodadendron Gap trail curves to the left and will intersect with the Appalachian Trail shortly after completing your first climb. Continue straight on the trail, don't turn on the AT. From here you will see steps over the fence straight ahead on the Wilburn Ridge Trail. Take these steps and begin your climb up that big pile of rocks called Wilburn Ridge. After about a quarter of a mile you will find yourself on top of the world with panoramic views. A 360 degree view that's reminiscent Rocky Mountain views.  In the Spring the balds are covered with colorful wildflowers. It's so beautiful you won't mind the other hikers that seem to be drawn to this ridge.  
 
 

After lingering on this high point descend to a small, flat gap and climb up the other rock pile that's part of the ridge. This climb is steeper than the last and is also the highest point on this ridge. The views here are the best on Wilburn Ridge. Many visit this high point, some stay for a few minutes, some for a few hours. There are two points on this high point that will accomadate tents. Great views for sunset and sunrise.

Who can get enough of these? 

Descend again.

 
 

Mt. Rogers Photos | Mt. Rogers Map | Trail Information 

Area Road Map | The Map Room

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