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Mt. Rogers Loop Hike Continued

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

Area Road Map | The Map Room

At this point the Appalachian Trail joins an intersection with two other trails. Mapreading skills are good for this area but as long as you follow the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail, you can't go wrong. In this area as most areas, you will need a map to navigate the confusing trails. Trails Illustrated Maps can be purchased at the visitors Center, the front gate or the Park office. At this point the Rhododendron Gap Trail joins the Appalachian Trail in an open area. Continue over another ridge until you reach another trail junction. Looking forward towards the split rail fence is a beautiful view of the Virginia Mountains and countryside. This grassy spot is a very popular junction for hikers to take a break.
 
 
The Lewis Fork Wilderness sign to the left is on the AT. Follow the AT and enter a bushy, shrubby, balsam - fir forest that is a characteristic of high elevations here and at the lower elevations of Canada.. There are many pony trails in here and the chances of seeing more ponies are good. This patch of woods is another change of landscape that is very pleasing to the eye. This is also an excellent place to camp in windy weather. This forest of trees shelter campers from the strong winds that frequent these rocky, treeless balds.
 
 

After winding through this patch of trees the trail continues on to the Thomas Knob Shelter. This is a unique shelter, on the edge of the forest, is unusual because it has a latrine and an open area in front of the shelter.. After leaving the shelter the trail enters an open field. Deer are frequently spotted on this section of trail.

 
 
Just ahead is another turnstile to negotiate and the spur trail for Mt. Rogers. Shortly after turning on the trail you leave the open field and enter a Spruce forest. The hike turns into a walk through a mossy tunnel of spruce trees. The forest floor is thick with fallen needles. The forest interior is so dark that it lacks under story trees or shrubs. The hike takes you through yet another change ! At 5729 feet Mt. Rogers is the highest point in Virginia.  There isn't a view from the summit of Mt. Rogers but this perfect example of a Boreal Forest made the side trip worth it.    
 
 
Double back to the Lewis Fork Wilderness sign and turn right on the Crest Trail. This open area is frequently used by hikers as a camping area because it is close to a spring. This has been a dry year and the spring is no longer there. There is, however, a water source just ahead on the Rhododendron Gap Trail. Continue to a trail on the left . This is the Rhododendron Gap trail and takes you back to Massie Gap. After walking approximately 1000 feet look to the right of the trail. The wet spot you see is good enough to filter water from. As you walk back to Massie Gap you might not be able to risk the temptation to climb up to Wilburn Ridge again!
 
 
The total mileage for this hike to Mount Rogers from Massie Gap and back is approximately 8 rugged miles

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

Area Road Map | The Map Room

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