May 20, 2024

Grayson Highlands (Backpacking, 14 Miles, Moderate)

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Friday, 06/08/2018 - Sunday, 06/10/2018

7:00 am - 5:00 pm

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Grayson Highlands State Park

This trip will be a Kim & Leigh joint production!

Grayson Highlands State Park is a launching point for a round-trip backpacking hike to Virginia’s highest point, Mount Rogers. Hikers on the highlands trails are likely to encounter wild ponies. They were introduced to the park in 1974 to prevent reforestation of the highland balds.

The scenery presented along Grayson’s trails is some of the best in Virginia. Wide open meadows sprinkled with spruce and the occasional rocky outcrop make this a photographer’s dream. Rhododendron and scrub pines combine to provide a thick cover from sometimes strong winds.

The weather at this altitude can best be described as evolving. Because of the open exposure to the South, weather travels very quickly in this region and changes rapidly.  There are several micro-climates encountered on this hike. The ‘balds’ (open, grassy/rocky mountain tops) are frequently encountered and display potential for rapid temperature and weather shifts. Bring appropriate rain-gear. Mount Rogers is not an open vista, but a thick, temperate rainforest environment such as encountered in the Pacific Northwest.

Friday:  Leave Richmond at 7:00am. Grab lunch on the drive to the park (5 hour drive). Hike just over 2 miles to Wise Shelter and set up camp for the night. Water source is nearby the shelter.

Saturday:  Break camp. Hike about 8 miles to Thomas Knob shelter and set up camp for the night. Water source is nearby the shelter. Depending on how everyone is feeling, some or all of us can attempt a summit hike to the top of Mount Rogers that afternoon. This adds 1.8 miles round-trip but we can leave packs back at camp. Mount Rogers is Virginia’s highest peak!

Sunday:  Break camp by 9:00am. Hike about 4 miles back to the parking lot. Grab lunch on the way home.

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