Start 2020 off on a healthy track with a hike on New Year’s Day. An interpretive ranger will be your guide on the Rhododendron Trail as it meanders along the rocks and mountain meadows, or balds, of Wilburn Ridge. The views along the trail are breathtaking with snowcapped mountains, and you may even see the local residents, the wild ponies, of Grayson Highlands. This moderate hike will be a total of 2 miles, so be sure to dress warmly, as the highlands experience particularly cold, windy, and sometimes snowy weather during the winter months. You may want to bring a water bottle, snacks, binoculars, a camera, your family, and/or your dog. Parking fees are waived for the day. As an added enticement, you can participate in the “New Year Challenge” contest. Find out about the photo contest and New Year Challenge here: https://vasp.fun/2020firsthike
Time: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Parking: Massie Gap Parking Area
About Grayson Highlands
Located near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, Virginia’s two highest mountains, Grayson Highlands offers scenic views of alpine-like peaks more than 5,000 feet high. Facilities include a visitor center, campgrounds, and hiking trails leading to waterfalls and overlooks. The park hosts a number of outdoor activities including hiking, camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, and backpacking. Scenic horse trails and a horse camping area with electric and water hookups, stables and parking for trailers are available. The park provides year-round access to the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail.
8 a.m. – 10 p.m
The park is on U.S. 58 midway between Independence and Damascus and is reached from I-81 at Exit 45 in Marion; turn south on Route 16 and travel 24 miles to US 58 in the community of Volney. Turn right onto US 58. Travel eight miles to the park’s entrance. Latitude, 26.628322. Longitude, -81.496889.
From I-77, take Hillsville Exit 14 to U.S. 58. Travel west on U.S. 58, 40 miles to Volney. Turn left to stay on U.S. 58 and go eight miles to the park entrance.
The address of the park is 829 Grayson Highland Lane, Mouth of Wilson, VA 24363; Latitude, 36.628322. Longitude, -81.496889.
Drive time: Northern VA, 6.5 hours; Richmond, 5.5 hours; Tidewater, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, 7.5 hours; Roanoke, 2.5 hours; Winston-Salem, NC, 1.5 hours; Charlotte, 1.5 hours; Raleigh, 4 hours
4,502 acres. Various elevation: Entrance – 3,698 feet; Visitor Center – 4,953 feet; Little Pinacle – 5,089 feet.