Exploring Mount Rogers, Virginia

wp-image-275740956jpg.jpg

By Ashley Barlow

Mount Rogers is most famous for being the highest point in Virginia with a height of 5,729 feet (1,746 m) above sea level!

There are a few different trail options you can take leading to the summit. This includes the Elk Garden Trailhead which approaches Mount Rogers from the west and is a 9 mile round trip hike. The Mount Rogers Trail approaches the summit from the north and is 12 miles round trip. The most popular hiking route to the summit is from the south approach located in Grayson Highlands State Park via Massie Gap. Not only is this trail the shortest, but also the most scenic out of the three. This trail is an 8 mile round trip hike and I decided to hike up and camp out for the night.

The trails approaching the summit provide the most scenic, sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. On your trek up, you will pass open grassy meadows and even wild ponies! This was something I had not experienced before and I could not believe that this was in Virginia!

wp-image-991082552jpg.jpg
Although these ponies may be considered wild, they have learned to become very comfortable with people who pass through the park.

img_20160612_114108.jpg
I even had the pleasure of petting a few ponies that came up to me!

Be warned though, these wild ponies are extremely spoiled and were begging me for food.

img_20160528_173158798

Not only did I see wild ponies, but there were even some bulls hanging out in the meadow! I did not dare get any closer though!

img_20160528_180549536

There were many campsites located along the trail on the way up. It was a popular weekend for camping and most of the camp sites seemed to be taken. I kept continuing along the path and thankfully lucked out with one of the most scenic and last campsites before the top. I was able to get the tent set up just before sun down and the views did not disappoint!

wp-image-1519820524jpg.jpg

I was spoiled to a breathtaking mountain sunset as the sky lit up in various shades of pink!

Mount Rogers 2

I even made myself my own fire and spoiled myself to some smores! Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this!?

wp-image-600107589jpg.jpg

The next morning I arose to the sound of drizzling rain. The rain had thankfully died off by the time I decided to pack up which made for a cool morning hike. It was only a few short miles left to the top.

The top of Mount Rogers features the most northern high-altitude Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forests. The only one of its kind in the state of Virginia with only 5 others in existence! This forest, in particular, is one of the few remaining that contain a Fraser fir tree; a high altitude evergreen tree normally found above 5500 feet (1700 m) in elevation.

Mount Rogers 1

I had never seen trees like this before and I felt like I was in another world when I entered the spruce-fir forest. It was quite a magical experience and I was still in shock that this was located right here in my home state of Virginia!

Contrary to most hikes, the top of Mount Rogers does not feature an overlook because of the dense spruce-fir forest. Nonetheless, the hike up approaching the summit more than made up for the scenic vistas. When you approach the top, there is a National Geodetic Survey triangulation station disk on the rocks in the middle of the forest. They are easily missed and not the most impressive.

Overall Mount Rogers was one of the most amazing hikes I have ever done in the state of Virginia. The wild ponies, open grassy meadows, the scenic sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the magical Southern Appalachians spruce fir forest definitely make it one of my favorite hikes around. Despite it’s far distance, Mount Rogers is worth the drive if you’re looking for a scenic hike. Plus it is the highest point in Virginia that even features wild ponies!

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Grayson Highlands State Park is located near the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. From where I live in Fairfax, Grayson Highlands State Park was 342 miles away and about a 5 hour and 16 minute drive. When you enter the park, the park rangers will direct you to where you need to park at the beginning of the trail head. It was very crowded that weekend and the parking spots were full so many cars parked over on the side of the road.

  1. From Interstate 81 S take exit 50 toward VA 11/Atkins
  2. Take Va-16 S for 47 miles to VA0362 N in Wilson Creek
  3. Turn left onto Nicks Creek Rd for 4.4 miles
  4. Turn left onto VA 16 S for another 17.4 miles
  5. Turn right onto US-58 W for 7.7 miles
  6. Then turn right on VA 362 N for 1.8 miles to enter Grayson Highlands State Park

TRAIL DIRECTIONS

To reach the summit via the popular Massie Gap look for a huge open field. You will follow the signs and start out on the Rhododendron Trail for about half mile towards the Appalachian Trail. You will then turn left and follow the Appalachian Trail up towards Wilburn Ridge through the Rhododendron Gap. As you continue you will pass the Thomas Knob Shelter to the short spur trail which leads to the grand finale at Mount Rogers summit!

FEES

There is a fee when entering Grayson Highlands State Park. For weekends there is a $3 fee and during the week there is a $2 fee.

MAP OF THE PARK

 

Ashley Barlow currently lives in Northern Virginia, just outside of D.C.  Ashley is a regional outdoor enthusiast and creator of the “Adventures with Ashley” social media presence. Ashley is a distance runner, obstacle course racer, trail runner, hiker, cyclist, triathlete, waterfall chasing, nature lovin’ Virginia girl with a severe case of wanderlust.  As a long-distance runner, her passion for running helped spur her to see new places and discover how much she enjoyed nature and photography. Her treks across Virginia led her to discover that she really wanted to see everything our world has to offer. From the rainforest trails of Costa Rica, to the glaciers and waterfalls of Iceland, this adventure-seeking woman aspires to empower women to live a healthy life and to be your most confident self, chasing passions (and waterfalls) along the way!

50 thoughts on “Exploring Mount Rogers, Virginia

  • June 4, 2018 at 1:04 am
    Permalink

    It’s so interesting that I think of higher places in Virginia than just short of 6 thousand feet. But I suppose I was wrong. Nevertheless it is beautiful there. And I love all of nature there. You had a great view for sure.

    Reply
  • May 30, 2018 at 1:54 am
    Permalink

    The ponies are melting my heart! I saw a foal nursing from its mother while I was biking in Ireland. Horses are amazing.

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 2:08 pm
      Permalink

      Wow that sounds like quite the bike ride! I’ve never been to Ireland before, but hope to visit one day! The ponies out there were too precious! Definitely made for an amazing adventure!

      Reply
  • May 29, 2018 at 10:30 am
    Permalink

    Those views are absolutely breathtaking! I love the shot looking up at the trees, it makes you realise just how mighty nature is 🙂 x

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 2:10 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Becca! The Spruce fir forest at the top of the mountain was so beautiful I just had to capture it! Nature is oh so mighty!! 8)

      Reply
  • May 29, 2018 at 12:09 am
    Permalink

    Just breathtaking. I agree, wild ponies in many places just don’t care about human presence.
    I can feel why this is a popular hiking and camping location for surrounding regions!

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 1:53 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Bhusha! The ponies were so precious and made the hike that much more exciting! It was quite the camping adventure!

      Reply
  • May 28, 2018 at 3:32 pm
    Permalink

    How amazing that the wild ponies were so friendly and you were able to be so close. Mount Rogers looks like a great destination for hikers who enjoy the natural environment.

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 2:17 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Kavey! I couldn’t believe how friendly the wild ponies were out there! They were so precious! Mount Rogers is definitely a must do hike in Virginia if you’re ever in the area!

      Reply
  • May 28, 2018 at 5:59 am
    Permalink

    Such a very beautiful place, I would go once in life if I ever get a chance to visit. It seem you enjoyed your trip a lot. Your taken images prove that you enjoyed a great time there.

    Reply
  • May 28, 2018 at 2:34 am
    Permalink

    Such scenic sights! I like such hikes and trips.
    Time to go for one.

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 2:12 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Indrani! This hike was so amazingly scenic! I hope you get to go on one like this sometime soon! Nothing like a dose of mother nature! 8)

      Reply
  • May 28, 2018 at 2:13 am
    Permalink

    What a beautiful hike! The lush scenery is so therapeutic! It seems like a wonderful place to reconnect with nature!

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 2:19 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Kat! Mount Rogers was definitely an amazing place to reconnect with nature! I definitely recommend it if you’re ever in the Virginia area! 8)

      Reply
  • May 27, 2018 at 9:01 pm
    Permalink

    Great pictures. The scenery (especially the sunset) is amazing! I love that you were able to approach the ponies, and that they were friendly and warm towards people! I love animals!

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 2:22 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Patricia! It was such an amazing adventure! The ponies were so precious! If you’re ever in the Virginia area, I definitely recommend Mount Rogers! The sunsets and ponies did not disappoint! 8)

      Reply
  • May 27, 2018 at 8:39 pm
    Permalink

    This looks like such a beautiful place to visit! I am a big hiker myself, and have done most of the Adirondack High Peaks and the Catskills up here in NY. I’ve also recently gotten into visiting the high points of every state, so I’ll have to add this hike to my list!

    Reply
  • May 27, 2018 at 7:55 pm
    Permalink

    Mount Rogers, Virginia looks like such a lovely place to visit. I am thinking about having Virginia our road trip itinerary this summer. Have to keep this location in mind!

    Reply
  • May 27, 2018 at 7:54 pm
    Permalink

    Those ponies for me were the greatest part! What a super fun adventure! and the meaning behind it is just refreshing!

    Reply
  • May 27, 2018 at 6:11 pm
    Permalink

    Exploring Mount Rogers in Virginia is an incredible journey. Meeting those wild ponies, stunning sunsets, green mountains have won me over. You have provided all the essential information about how reach here and what to do. The entrance fee for Grayson Highlands State Park is very nominally priced.

    Reply
  • May 27, 2018 at 5:35 pm
    Permalink

    I love hiking! Although I’m not in Virginia, I would like to still visit Mount Rogers one day and you provided great valuable information and tips to keep in mind! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • May 27, 2018 at 5:10 pm
    Permalink

    This looks like an AMAZING trip idea. I’m definitely going to have to go there this summer.

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 2:13 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Sean! Mount Roger was such an adventure! I really hope you make it out there this summer. Definitely one of my favorite hikes in Virginia! If you need any tips just let me know! 8)

      Reply
  • May 27, 2018 at 9:22 am
    Permalink

    The sunset is amazing!! I haven’t ever heard of Mount Rogers before but I’m truing to get more into trekking and hiking these days (love the views but hate the physical exercise!) so it’s definitely on my bucket list now should I ever visit Virginia!

    Reply
  • May 27, 2018 at 8:37 am
    Permalink

    Those wild ponies are beautiful! And what a lovely place to camp, with incredible sunset views. I’d probably take the Elk Garden Trailhead, considering its a bit shorter (9 miles sounds a bit manageable, I am not in the best shape). Mount Rogers Virginia sounds like a great place to spend time in the middle of pure nature.

    Reply
  • May 27, 2018 at 7:01 am
    Permalink

    Such a detailed post. I’d love to pet some ponies as well. They look so cute! The entrance fee to Grayson Highlands State Park is cheap too. I love hiking so I’d love to visit Mount Rogers, Virginia when I have a chance to visit the USA.

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 1:16 am
      Permalink

      Thanks Ha! The ponies were too precious! They were adorable! I couldn’t believe they were out there on the hike! This hike is definitely very affordable and one of the best hikes in Virginia! I hope you get to visit one day! 8)

      Reply
  • May 26, 2018 at 5:43 pm
    Permalink

    Wow that is a gorgeous view! This seems like it would be a fun trip!

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 1:15 am
      Permalink

      Thanks Emily! Mount Rogers was definitely an adventure! The ponies and views did not disappoint! Have you ever done a hike like this before!?

      Reply
  • May 26, 2018 at 4:19 pm
    Permalink

    It sounds like a great place to visit. I’ve never been to the USA, but if I ever decide to visit that country, I’d love to explore Mount Rogers for sure. 🙂

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 1:14 am
      Permalink

      Thanks Natalia! That’s so awesome to hear you say that! Mount Rogers is definitely an adventure and you won’t be disappointed! Where are you from!?

      Reply
  • May 26, 2018 at 7:03 am
    Permalink

    A beautiful post about this unique place Mt Rogers. Looking at more adventure as kids have grown a bit and this kind of trek will be perfect. Loved the ponies. Thanks for sharing such great details. The visuals are lovely compliments to the post.

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 1:13 am
      Permalink

      Thanks Amar! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Mount Rogers is definitely an adventure and you won’t be disappointed! The ponies are so precious! I hope you get to make it out here one day! Just let me know if you need any tips! 8)

      Reply
  • May 26, 2018 at 12:17 am
    Permalink

    Just love Mount Rogers!!! What a great place to spend time hiking and connecting with nature. You take some great photos and I would love to visit for myself one day.

    Reply
    • May 30, 2018 at 9:58 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Michelle! It was such an adventure I just had to capture the moment! I hope you get to visit one day and just let me know if you need any tips! 8)

      Reply
  • May 25, 2018 at 7:43 pm
    Permalink

    How incredible is this! The scenery is breathtaking. Would love a nice quite reconnect with nature here!

    Reply
    • May 30, 2018 at 9:57 pm
      Permalink

      I know right!? Nothing like a gorgeous sunset and precious ponies to reconnect with nature! It was quite the adventure! 8)

      Reply
  • May 25, 2018 at 9:37 am
    Permalink

    Wow it looks like you had a fantastic trip. That sunset you got to see is just stunning. Exploring Mount Rogers looks like a memorable vacay

    Reply
    • May 30, 2018 at 9:55 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Elizabeth! It was such an amazing camping adventure! Nothing like a beautiful sunset to end the night! Do you enjoy camping!?

      Reply
  • May 25, 2018 at 7:49 am
    Permalink

    Mount Rogers looks like a pretty place and ponies are so cute! I like camping and I’m so glad found your site.

    Reply
    • May 30, 2018 at 9:48 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Jelena! The ponies were too precious! I hope you get to enjoy a camping experience like this sometime! It was quite the adventure! 8)

      Reply
  • May 25, 2018 at 1:40 am
    Permalink

    Sounds like a fantastic Mountain to explore. We haven’t really done much of the USA yet, but this is right up our street. I LOVE hiking and camping. Those Fraser firs are stunning as well! Great, comprehensive post.

    Reply
  • May 25, 2018 at 12:13 am
    Permalink

    This was a very enjoyable read. Thank you for sharing – I definitely would love to visit Mount Rogers in the future. You must have had an awesome experience is this lovely place.

    Reply
    • May 30, 2018 at 9:46 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Nisha! This is definitely a unique hike in Virginia and the ponies are too precious! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      Reply
    • May 30, 2018 at 9:45 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you!! The ponies were so precious! Made for a great hike! There’s gotta be good hikes near you!?

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Paula @ I'm Busy Being Awesome Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
%d bloggers like this: