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.

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!).  

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.

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 :)  This can also be done as a day hike if you don't want to camp.

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Camera
  • Food
  • Water treatment + bottle water
  • Stove
  • Backpack
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RT Distance 8 Miles
Elevation Gain 1080 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Romantic
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

over 2 years ago

Plenty Of Ponies

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.

One of the Best Hikes in Virginia

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.

First Backpacking Trip

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.


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