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Hiker Comments for the Mt Rogers/Grayson Highlands Hike - 1 to 15 of 15   
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By: nort Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Did this hike over four days with two kids including my 8 year old daughter. She had a very light pack, but 10 miles/day was about all she could do. We had the shuttle take us to fox creek/603 so that we could hike back to the car. We got a lot of rain over the four days, but the springs and streams were all flowing well. I was worried there would be stretches without water but it seemed there was a source often enough that you don't really have to worry about carrying a lot/extra. The shelters all have lots of campsites around them, and while there were definitely decent stretches without any sites, there were enough that you don't really have to worry about where you'll sleep each night if you are tenting and don't want to stay IN the shelters. Lastly, bears. They are having a serious bear problem up there with bears that are getting food and are not scared of people. Bear boxes were installed near Wise and Thomas Knob and they need them at Old Orchard. Even saw an electrified fence that had been setup near Thomas Knob. There were signs everywhere about the problem, but be very careful and take the utmost precautions when eating and storing your food. Even in the first week of August, during the week, and with lots of rain in the forecast, there were still a bunch of hikers out there. I can't even imagine what it's like on weekends or during leaf season. But for good reason: this hike is amazing.

By: Richmond Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 19, 2018
I did a modified version of this hike on the A.T. the whole way instead of the Creeper Trail in early Spring 2018. This is truly an epic section of trail, I can't overstate how beautiful it is. The first day out of Damascus is not too exciting but has some killer switchbacks before Saunders Shelter. I camped the first night at the junction of Creeper Trail and A.T. next to a roaring Laurel Creek. In mid-April every spring and stream was full so I never carried much more than 1L of water. (Even at 5000' on Whitetop and Pine mtns there were springs flowing.) Day 2 is when the trail comes out of the woods and you have more open sections in high meadows. The climb to Buzzard Rock was really tough, and then the trail around Whitetop toward Mount Rogers was more rocky and difficult than I expected. Views were insane. I camped near Thomas Knob on Night 2- there was a small herd of ponies walking around. Day 3 is just view after view, it will make your eyes pop out of your face. Plan extra time for taking pics and video. It was a beautiful Saturday when I came through Grayson Highlands so there were hundreds of people there. Night 3 I camped at Old Orchard shelter which was less crowded than Wise Shelter. I had MRO shuttle pick me up at Fox Creek at 10AM on Day 4 and drive me back to Damascus. Then I hiked south to the state line to check off that A.T. section. My mileage was roughly 15/15/11/9, all on the A.T. This one is a superlative, bucket-list level of backpack trip. If you can't make it to the Grand Canyon this might be a good substitute.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 27, 2015
This is a hike unlike any other. This was one of my favorites and I look forward to getting back out there again. If you get the chance, you definitely need to check this one out. I recommend doing it in the late fall or winter because the majority of the hike lacks shade - the trail is mostly out in the open with breathtaking views the entire way up. If you are into photography, this is an excellent place to capture some incredible shots with a wide variety of scenery. With the wide open rolling hills, this hike feels less like something in Virginia and more like something out in Colorado. Prepare to be in for a surprise when you make it to the top - I was not expecting what we encountered! There were some cool rock formations along the way, as well as an amusing number of friendly wild ponies roaming around the hillsides. If you're not local, it can be a long drive to the state park, but it is worth every minute of the drive.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 17, 2015
I’ve done this hike 2x. Once in 2010 from Grindstone (hike was fogged in, 65F @ night in Sept w/ 20mph winds), and just got in from the Grayson Highlands access. Hike just under 9mi shouldn’t take more than 5hrs ea way. Weather was 55F w/ constant icy 30mph winds and temp dropping fast. Spent night up near Thomas Knob shelter in tent. Temp ended up being 28-30F and those winds were constant. I’ve seen many hikers up there to include day hikers who should just be out for the day, however stuff happens, and the people I saw were clearly unprepared for anything other than “a good day”…as a point, on our descent today I ended up treating a fellow hiker who likely fractured the base of her thumb, SAM splinted and compress wrapped and rigged sling for support- SO THINGS HAPPEN- BE PREPARED. The weather and terrain are a s close to the Whites as you can get w/ out being in the Whites. Even for “day hikers” you should be prepared for an emergency bivvy. A full set of breathable rain gear, and All Weather Blanket or 2, and some form of insulation as a fleece or techwich and maybe a small piece of foam pad. If you use a space blanket, tarp, or bivvy bag in an emergency you will get wet from condensation inside, hence the need for breathable rain gear in that situation. Have fun and hike safe all

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 22, 2014
We (me plus one 1st time hiker and one experienced hiker) stayed at the Hikers Inn in Damascus ($25 for a bunk bed and a shared bathroom) on Friday night. We parked our vehicle at Mt. Rodgers outfitters and coordinated for a pick up on Monday at noon at Route 603 parking area. We followed the Creeper Trail out of town and picked up the AT as the directions state the walk was very nice following the river. We made it to Lost Mountain Shelter early afternoon with no problem. We started out on day 2 with the intention of making it to Wise Shelter however a very cold, wet and windy day slowed us down so we stopped at Thomas Knob Shelter which was very crowded. This left us a long day 3 in order to make it to the pick up location by noon. I recommend planning this as a 4 day or at least coordinating for a later pick up. Highly recommend breakfast at Hey Joe's (great food and great people) and dinner at the Old Mill (again great food and great people).

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 4, 2014
Simply the Best in Virginia! This was epic!

First of all...plug to Crazy Larry! The hostel at Mt. Rogers Outfitters was closed to renovation and Larry was a gracious host...Decent room and bed...great breakfast...nice company...hit him up on facebook at

Damascus to Buzzard Rock Virginia Creeper Trail is definitely the way out of Damascus...unless its on a Saturday in Fall Foliage least 200 bikes coming at you downhill speeds... Very nice trail with little difficulty...the AT at this point is not easy and not as picturesque...but no bikes... Had lunch at Taylor Valley at the Va Creeper Cafe...very clean and very basic...with wifi and could charge everything up...

Hit the Lost Mountain Shelter and ran across two wise men and a couple...

Found a lone fire ring just past the open pine grove...almost flat...a little ways N on the trail is a fine campsite...on the of all in the area...

Next morning up Beech Mountain was always gonna be painful...we made it to Buzzard Rocks by 11:30...

Whitetop to Mt. Rogers A word to the wise...For those of you planning a 16 miler on Day Two...Good Luck! It may as well be in the summer when maximum sunlight...and be ready for some serious exertion at many levels of the Mount Rogers Highlands... We did not do 16 miles on Day Two...We did 12...actually 13...saw an opening just off the trail...when we reached the opening an A.T. angel tried to stop us...he said skirt the fence and reach the trail again off in the forest we did...and picked up the trail going...South...WRONG! Ran into the Wise Men about .5 mile and then retraced... The rest was a tough gradual ascent...finally making it to Thomas Knob an hour before sunset...

Thomas Knob Shelter Plenty of company here...two floor shelter...joined by two Polish women...the Wise Men...and a pleasant young couple tenting but hangin' out...

Just after sunset...a southbound thru hiker joined us.. Howling winds and cold temperatures that night... Up at sunrise to climb to the highest point in Virginia...beautiful sunrise looking back on the Summit Trail...absolutely nothing ot see at the top but the forest smelled very sweet...and spruce...

On to Rhododendron Gap and the Grayson Highlands Open balds...plateaus...peaks and skies...views everywhere...AND...Ponies!

Ponies and more ponies!

Ominous skies near Scales...and up Pine Mountain into the forest and the final descent to the pouring rain... Cleared up...of soon as we get to the 603 parking area...

Unbelievable experience on the VA Creeper Trail and the AT...great views...and great company...even most of the bikers said hello...

Would have preferred to do this in four days...

By: Mary Beth Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 2, 2013
We did the 2-day version of this trip this weekend. Great time! The hiking was beautiful. The pace was more intense than we are used to, and it was *very* cold in the morning when we woke up! But highly recommended.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Perhaps my favorite place in Virginia!  Please watch my video review here:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, February 8, 2013
Six of us from (Meetup) Obsessive Compulsive Backpackers returned to do the exact same hike reviewed below, but this time as a Winter Hike and hopefully with snow.  We weren't disappointed.  The trails had about a foot of snow but thankfully up high the snow was either blown off the trail into drifts or hard packed.  Unfortunately, on 90% of the trail the sun and warming weather softened the snow and we had to keep "breaking trail" which was hard work, but the views were worth it.  Up on the Pine Mountain Trail one could pretend to be in Colorado with the snow capped mountains visible in North Carolina.  Friday night temps, 17F (not bad), major wind advisory was in effect and we had the roar of wind freight trains all night!  Saturday highs upper 30's, wind chills around zero warmer Saturday night, upper twenty's, not much wind.  Sunday's hike out 30's or 40's, got sunburned.  Plenty of water.  Spring at campsite was flowing (about 1 mile east of Rhododendron Gap).

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 12, 2012
This was our 2nd trip, first since May 2012 (Review below).  This time our intent was to catch the Fall Folieage and make the trip into a 3 night loop.  Day 1, Friday 12 October  Departed Newport News around 7AM, arrived around 3  PM. Parked in the Overnight Backpackers Parking lot at Grayson Highlands State Park ($10).  Hiked to the Wise Shelter on the Appalachian Trail, about 1.8 miles. (actually hike just past the shelter to a small meadow on left after crossing Wilson Creek to camp).  Beautiful Meadow, right on the creek as you break out of the trees.  Weather perfect.  Lows about 41F.

Day 2, Saturday 13 October Hiked the A.T. to the Old Orchard Shelter, approximately 6 miles.  Leaving the Wilson Creek meadow you are in the trees for a while then break out into the open.  This is why this area is SPECTACULAR!  The AT goes through the corral at "Scales", yes that's right, right through the corral.  There was a round up going on of the Texas Longhorn cattle herd, as well as the ponies, so we weren't sure if it was ok to follow the AT thru the gates directly into the corral, but that's what we did.  Then hiked up to the AT intersection with the Pine Mountain Trail and dropped over the backside and descended 900'  to the Old Orchard Shelter where we tent camped.  The water at the spring was flowing fine. Night time temps @50F.  Weather was perfect.

.Day 3, Sunday 14 October Sunshine, low 60's.   We hiked back up the A.T. to the Pine Mountain Trail intersection, then turned southwest on the PMT, then re-joined the A.T. at Rhododendron Gap for lunch.  Our original plan was to then head for the beautiful campsite (same as in May) just before reaching the Thomas Knob Shelter, but since we reached Rhododendron Gap around 1pm, that would have meant a lot of dead time at camp, so we decided to go ahead and walk the 3 miles on the AT South, over the prominent Ridge and back to the parking lot.

Note.  There is an AWESOME campsite, on the right, just in the trees on the PMT just past the spring which is marked on the Natgeo trails map. It is about half way between the PMT/AT intersection and Rhodo Gap.  From this campsite you get a gigantic 180 degree view looking down across the mountains.  Going to this campsite means you can pass of the Orchard Shelter and avoid the tree screen and hump back up the mountain.  The spring is fenced to keep out the ponies.  Just beyond this campsite is a sign pointing to another spring, if you follow the path it lead into the trees to yet another fantastic campsite, but we couldn't find the spring.  This would make a great winter hike, but I would beware of the wind.

Note:  Unfortunately it looked like we missed peak fall foliage, above 5000' the 'reds' had already dropped and most of the 'yellows'.  Driving back to I81 on hwy 58, the trees were starting to peak.


By: Ann Beale Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 26, 2012
Did a two night backpack. We had perfect weather, saw many ponies and even a new born! Has to be one of the most beautiful places ever! Also the route we did was very gentle. we did not not do the exact route in this description nor the mileage. We parked at the overnight parking lot in the Grayson's park for backpackers.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 4, 2012
Our meet-up group (\ocbackpackers) from Hampton\VA Beach, did this 4-7 May 2012. We did it in reverse of the route set up here.  We parked the cars at Mt Rogers Outfitters, they shuttled us to where the AT crosses S.R. 603 (Fox Creek TH - I guess), then we took 4 days to hike back to Damascus.  MRO has a shower you can use at their hostel, directly across the street from their store which you can use for $2.00 and they give you a bath-towel (bonus!).  At the point where the AT crosses Pine Mountain Trail, we had a long lunch and watched the small herd of ponies fight amongst themselves - and - there was a small herd of  (and I'm not making this up) Texas Longhorn cattle.  After lunch we voted to cut off the AT loop which takes you south into the trees of Grayson Highlands, opting instead to turn west on the Pine Mtn Tr.before rejoining the AT and camping about 1/4 Mi E of  Thomas Knob shelter.  The spring was barely flowing behind the shelter.  I had to use a cup to fill my water bottle to use a steri pen.  A purifier with hose intake can be dropped into the very shallow stream.  We then hiked across (near)  Mt. Rogers and Whitetop, over and down Beech Mtn, in the rain, across Hwy 58 and up to Lost Mountain Shelter.  This is an extremely long haul, over 12 miles.  Next time I'll break it up and stay an extra night somewhere between Beech Mtn and Buzzard Rocks. It had been raining off and on all week and the spring was from a pipe over a huge mud hole.   After Lost Mountain the trail eases up quite a bit and we chose to get on the Virgina Creeper trail and follow the  very large trout stream to Taylors Valley for lunch.  Extremely beautiful walking!  If you're coming from this direction there are several 'pretender' food stops before you get to the main attraction, the Creeper Restaurant in the main section of a town, with a picnic deck on the water, full menus and service to a gazillion day bikers.  Departing Taylors Valley, we camped in a lovely sight on the water about 4 miles from Damascus.  Some of us fished for trout, others went swimming.  Water shoes are recommended for the rocks in the stream.  The Creeper and AT run literally side by side, The Creeper has the fantasitc water views, the AT is literally a rhododendron tunnel.  The next day was a leisure walk into Damascus and MRO.  We ate at the Mill Restaurant (doesn't open till 5PM, had to wait all afternoon), drove out and camped again at Graysons State Park before driving back to tidewater the next day.

End of book.  

Our 365 (and growing) photos can be viewed at

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Before reviewing, I will indicate I did not do the exact hike documented above.  Instead, I bicycled the Virginia Creeper Trail one day and hiked to Mount Rogers the next from the Grayson Highlands State Park.  For those who are interested in traveling light, this is a good alternative if a three day hike sounds daunting.

As indicated within the review, the sights are spectacular which makes this my favorite hike in the Mid-Atlantic.  The hike along the Appalachian Trail is very open which means the entire hike has great views with the exception of the portion near the summit of Mount Rogers.  The wild ponies are a special treat as well.  Definitely worth the trip!

By: Jeff Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 5, 2006
One of my favorite hikes in the Southeast is through this section. We went from Damascus up to Troutdale, I think around 50-55 miles in 5 days. The stretch from Damascus to Grayson Highlands was my least favorite part - a couple steep climbs and not much in the way of scenery. The rest, though, was great! Loved GH and the detour onto the "old" AT we made due to weather. Be warned, however, about Mt. Rogers Outfitters and trying to shuttle at the end of your hike. They forgot about us, and since there was no cell phone service we hitched a ride to Troutdale and used a pay phone to call them. Luckily we got there before closing time and someone was able to eventually come and get us. After that, I don't know if I would depend on a shuttle at the end of a hike. Since then I have done a loop through Grayson Highlands (up to Mt Rogers and down the AT, looping back on the horse trail) that made a nice weekend.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 13, 2002
I have walked this entire stretch of trail several times.  A favorite trek of mine.  Wonderful views, plenty of water, great places to camp all in all, a great place to spend a few days.

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