Virginia Trip Reports

Most of our hiking trips in Virginia have centered on the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Mount Rogers has a lot to offer for hikers and backpackers. The area features a combination of alpine meadows and Spruce Fir Forest. "Wild" Ponies roam the area, and the Rhododendron Gap area is famous for its blooming shrubs in June.

The following links will take you to reports from several of the trips we've taken to the Mount Rogers area. Mount Rogers is a great destination to enjoy fall foliage. In October of 2000, we had an enjoyable hike combining the Little Wilson Creek Wilderness and Grayson Highlands State Park. The next fall we had an adventure, as we explored the primitive trails north of 3rd Peak. We returned a few years later, hiking from Grayson Highlands along Wilburn Ridge to the summit of Mount Rogers. In October of 2006, I found the best fall foliage yet on a 10-mile hike on the AT and Pine Mountain Trails starting at Massie Gap. I returned to Grayson Highlands in 2010 and found more fall foliage on a hike to Rhododendron Gap.     (Photos). In October of 2017 Christy and started our trip to Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania with a visit to the Mount Rogers area, doing several short hikes around Grayson Highlands and Whitetop Mountain.     (Photos).

Mount Rogers is a challenging winter destination. In February of 2002, I joined a Sierra Club winter weekend backpacking trip. We were in the snow the whole time, as we backpacked from Elk Garden to Grayson Highlands. I did another backpack to Mount Rogers in similar conditions in November of 2005 and stayed at the Thomas Knob Shelter. That was a cold trip, but it was much worse in March of 2000 when we dayhiked in Grayson Highlands State Park. In April of 2004 we hiked in a late season storm to First Peak by way of the Hightree Rock and Shapiro Trails. In January of 2006 Dave and I hiked in a new area on the Iron Mountain Trail. We returned a year later for another snow hike in the Little Wilson Creek Wilderness.

We've taken many trips in June over the years to enjoy the rhododendron bloom. At its peak, entire hillsides around Pine Mountain and Rhododendron Gap turn pink. In 2002 we did a long dayhike as we looped through both areas from the north. In 2007, Saucony and I backpacked through Rhododendron Gap on our way to an incredible campsite on 3rd Peak. In July, 2013 we camped at the Beartree Recreation Area, which was full of blooming Rosebay Rhododendron. I did three hikes that weekend, on the A.T. in the Whitetop Laurel Gorge, on the A.T. over Whitetop and through Elk Garden, and on the Iron Mountain Trail.     (Photos).

Spring comes late to the Mount Rogers area. In April of 2015 Christy and I did a fairly short hike from Massie Gap to Rhododendron Gap and Thomas Knob (Photos). A few days later we brought the whole family along for a hike to lower Wilburn Ridge and the waterfalls on Cabin Creek. (Photos).

We have hiked in Virginia outside of Mount Rogers. Many years ago my father and I car camped in Shenandoah National Park and did a few dayhikes. This was long before I wrote trip reports, but I do remember the Cedar Run / Whiteoak Run loop hike, with its many waterfalls, as being particularly enjoyable. I also hiked to the cliffs of Stony Man Mountain and climbed to the park's highest point on Hawksbill Mountain. I highly recommend Shenandoah to deer lovers, as we saw hundreds in the park. In May of 2007, I finally made it back to the park to do a dayhike on Old Rag Mountain.

In July of 2001 I stopped near Staunton on the way home from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. I did a short hike to a waterfall in the St. Mary's Wilderness. Several years before that I dayhiked to Crabtree Falls and over The Priest. I finally returned to that area in August of 2011 with a dayhike on the A.T. to Spy Rock. A work assignment in Natural Bridge in January, 2012 gave me the opportunity to hike in Douthat State Park and visit Falling Springs Falls.     (Photos).

We've hiked in a few other areas of southern Virginia. For an adventure, try hiking the cliffs in the Pinnacles of Dan area. The Appalachian Trail used to run through that area. Another fine hike is nearby along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rock Castle Gorge offers a great loop hike that combines streamside hiking with wandering through meadows. In July of 2012 Christy and I attended Floydfest, a four-day music festival near the Rocky Knob Recreation Area along the Parkway.     (Photos).

The area around Roanoke has a lot to offer as well. The Appalachian Trail passes over several interesting peaks northwest of Roanoke. One of the more exciting summits is the rock spire known as the Dragons Tooth. Another classic is the hike from highway 311 to McAfee Knob.     (Photos). After doing the McAfee Knob hike, Kevin joined Bob and I for a 3-day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail from Pearisburg, VA, to the Mountain Lake Wilderness.     (Photos).

Southwest Virginia offers some good hiking near Blacksburg. The Cascades is an appealing waterfall with a great swimming hole. Nearby is the Mountain Lake Wilderness. I hiked in this area with Rocky in November of 2008. Farther west, the Appalachian Trail skirts a lovely pastoral valley known as Burkes Garden. In 1999 we backpacked this section of the Appalachian Trail, and spent the night in the stone cabin on Chestnut Mountain. In March of 2006, I returned for another backpacking trip to Burkes Garden with Bob and Joel. Farther southwest is Clinch Mountain. In April, 2015 Rick took me on a tour of two of his favorite places, The Great Channels of Virginia and Beartown Mountain.     (Photos). In November, 2017 we spent a long weekend with dogs in southwestern Virginia. We camped and hiked in Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and also hiked to Devil's Bathtub and Little Stony Falls.     (Photos)

We've done some caving in Virginia, too! In September, 2017, we spent the weekend at Rocky's in Burnsville, VA with Rocky, Stephanie, and Clayton. On Saturday we explored Butler Cave from the Old Farts Entrance to the French Galleries and the Pool Room. The next day we hiked around the valley and visited some neighbors and checked out the views, cave entrances, and two digs into two potential new caves.     (Photos)

Virginia photos

Rhododendron Gap Mt Rogers in Autumn "Wild" Pony Winter Wonderland Fungirl & Saucony
on Wilburn Ridge

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