grayson highlands state park.
Itching to hike and willing to explore new horizons, we ventured ourselves out into Mouth of Wilson, Virginia to check out a state park called: Grayson Highlands.
About a 2-hour drive from our home here in Winston Salem, NC, we arrived on a cloudy and cold Saturday morning with our girl Caroline ready to explore and move her little legs around. We decided to take it a little easy and parked in the Backpacker's Parking Lot - taking the Appalachian Spur Trail which connects onto the Appalachian Trail, taking us to the summit of Mt. Rogers and back around in a loop to the parking lot. (Total distance: about 2-miles round-trip).
Once a little ways up the beginning of the trail, we had to enter a latched gate to continue.
Once inside, there was pony poop everywhere! Caroline loved this of course, because she loves poop (dogs), but we had to watch our step as to avoid it.
This hike is relatively simple rating moderate in difficulty, and took us no problems climbing to the top. Mt. Rogers is one of Virginia's two highest mountains that offers scenic views of the many surrounding mountains. Backcountry camping is allowed here, at the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area, but not inside the State Park. The weather is unpredictable and can be harsh at times as you're exposed to highlands at 360 degrees, with a lot of wind and clouds.
The wild ponies at Grayson Highlands are a huge attraction and people seem to visit this area to catch a glimpse of them. They were introduced into the park in 1974 to prevent the highland balds from reforestation (credit to the website for this info). Every fall, some ponies are auctioned off and they are all checked for health issues.
Caroline had a chance to meet the ponies herself, and I can tell you from this experience that they are mean! They will stomp, try to kick, and bite. Just a fair warning to you.
I observed the surrounding scenery as we moved along and fought the strong winds. The landscape is very beautiful and full of growth from the grasses to the trees. Not only is this area great for hikers, it also hosts great opportunities for climbers as the park is a premier bouldering destination in Virginia. With many things to do and see, the park is a must see at least once, in my opinion.
Grayson Highlands is known as one of Virginia's most beautiful places, and I must agree as the views were wonderful to observe even on a cloudy and overcast day. It was nice to explore another State's park beyond North Carolina, but I must say, it doesn't even compare to our Blue Ridge Mountains. <3
Until next time, happy trails!