• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    8 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1080 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking

First of all, who doesn't love wild ponies! There are tons of ponies here, and although they are wild, they are not afraid of people and you can get pretty close (just don't feed them!). This trail is also the highest point in Virginia, and because of wildfires, it is all big skies and pine trees, making it feel like somewhere out west rather than Southern Virginia. In the springtime there are tons of rhododendron, blueberries in late summer, and fiery colors in the fall. To top it all off, there are plenty of great campsites and shelters as well as nearby water sources. Dogs are also welcome and from personal experience, love this hike :)

Once you enter Grayson Highlands State Park, you will see a parking lot for Massie Gap a few miles in, park here. There is an obvious trail, the Rhododendron Trail, that you will follow for about .5 mile until you reach the AT. Turn left, follow the AT to Wilburn Ridge, go past the Thomas Knob Shelter until you reach the short spur that leads to the Mount Rogers summit. There are no real views at the summit, but plenty along the hike to get there. Round trip the hike is 8 miles.

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Camera
  • Food
  • Water treatment + bottle water
  • Stove
  • Backpack
  • This can be done as a day hike if you don't want to camp
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Community Photos

+ Add Photos


Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

Such a beautiful hike with so many different terrains and landscapes! I felt like I was somewhere far far away from Virginia! There are tons of great backcountry campsites as the trail is located along the AT. It's super dog friendly and the ponies come right up to you!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

We hiked in from Massie Gap to Mount Rogers in late June and we quickly decided this was our favorite hike we've ever done. This hike offers the most beautiful views I've ever seen in the United States, and hiking among the ponies is one you won't soon forget! Plenty of beautiful camping spots. We hope to come back one day.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I seriously loved this hike and it easily tops all the other hikes I've done this far in Virginia!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Absolutely a must-do hike. Went for a nice weekend trip in Virginia after day hiking McAfee Knob. We went on a Sunday and Monday and it made a world of difference with the crowds.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

As other reviews have hinted at...hiking here feels more like being in the Scottish Highlands than in Virginia. The wild ponies are definitely a plus, just please resist the urge to feed them. There are many places to pitch a tent if wanting to turn this hike into a backpacking trip. Though the summit of Mt. Rogers is forested, this is one of only a few mountains in Virginia with high enough elevations to have a spruce-fir forest, making the trail to the summit quite enchanting.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Came here as a part of a group for my first true backpacking trip and now I'm hooked! We stayed near shelters both nights so the easy access to water sources and privys made things a little easier for a beginner. Covered about 15 miles over the weekend and couldn't believe all the different scenery we saw. Loved the challenge of the rock scramble sections! Getting to see the ponies made the weekend absolutely perfect. Can't recommend this enough.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Just go. We got to see the herds of wild ponies three times on our day hike up and back. The scenery is some you would never imagine in Virginia. The horses manage to keep a lot of the hike well grazed leaving for countless incredible views all along the hike. The summit itself is well forested, so it doesn't have any view, but if you there you might as well make it to the highest point in VA. This hike is a must!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

I've backpacked Mt. Rogers/Grayson Highlands three different times in the past two years, and it never gets old. The scenery is spectacular, solitude is easy to find, the trail is easy to follow, and you get some of the most unique wildlife you could ask for with the herds of wild ponies on the mountain balds. I'm certain that I'll backpack Mt. Rogers again this year, and for many years to come. Whether you're a backpacking veteran or setting out on your first backpacking trip, I cannot recommend the Mt. Rogers Highlands enough.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Amazing high country views for Virginia! Mount Roger's forest is incredible (literally looks like a forest in the North Pacific)! Beautiful wild ponies and most of them are extremely friendly. Awesome area, when the reach the top around mount Rogers you won't believe you're in Virginia with the amazing views! Must do hike if you live in or near Virginia!

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago


This section of the AT is absolutely beautiful! I went during labor day weekend, the weather was perfect. I highly, highly recommend going to Scales (the old cattle ranch), and rather than camping directly at Scales, to walk up the horse trail, and camp up there. It is very secluded (minus the cows) and the camp overlooks the mountains, which makes for beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Also, take a look up at the sky at night, you won't be disappointed.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Hiked here for the first time in June 2015. I agree with review before me - good time to see all the foals out with their moms. Would love to camp next time, lots of well maintained areas as well as a shelter close to Mt. Rogers and surprisingly not that many people were out. We ended up doing this as a day hike and started a little bit later in the day (around 3). Had plenty of time to explore and complete the hike to be back at the car by dark. The weather is notorious here for changing quickly so always be prepared whether for just a hike or camping overnight (of course there is a huge sign at the park warning you of this as well). We finished this hike just in time before a huge summer storm moved in.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Did a very similar trip to this one (this section was incorporated into a longer backpacking trip) in late July. Many of the ponies had babies, and all were very inquisitive! We only met one other group of hikers making the experience all the more special. The views from the balds were simply spectacular, but hiking through the wooded sections also proved to be magnificent. Continuing along the AT to Buzzard Rock (great 360 views of surrounding ranges) would be a good addition to this hike.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Christin Healey Explorer

Explorer, adventure seeker, lover of life and all things creative.

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Hike the Sugar Bowl Loop in Kings Canyon NP

Tulare County, California

First and foremost, to get to this trailhead you need to drive down a 2-mile, one lane dirt road that is quite steep.

3 Saves

Hike to Ehukai Pillbox

59178 Ke Nui Road, Hawaii

This hike starts directly across from Banzai Pipeline, the famous barreling wave at Ehukai Beach.

4 Saves

Winter Hike to Calypso Cascades

1046 County Highway 115, Colorado

While most people go snowshoeing near the Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge area in RMNP, Wild Basin is a much less trafficked option.

5 Saves