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Hiker Comments for the Wilburn Ridge/Pine Mountain Hike - 1 to 7 of 7   
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By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 15, 2019
I did a modified version of this hike with my friend. Instead of following the Appalachian Spur Trail by accident we followed the Horse Trail and Rhododendron Trail, which adds a little distance but passes a few incredible boulders between the Rhododendron and Appalachian Spur junctions. These unnamed boulder peaks are some of the highlights of this area. When we arrived at Scales we did the out-and-back to the summit of Stone Mountain that is listed on the Little Wilson Creek Wilderness hike. Although the Appalachian Trail crosses the slopes of Stone Mountain on the way to Scales, the true summit on the First Peak Trail is easily one of the best views in the Mount Rogers NRA. As a bonus, you are unlikely to encounter any people on this peak contrary to the Wilburn Ridge section. Next, instead the Pine Mountain Trail we wanted to check out the Crest Trail. This is the horse trail that parallels the Pine Mountain Trail and shaves 0.2-mi. We thought it might be boring, however, the Crest Trail is gorgeous. Most of the trail is completely exposed offering nonstop views. Additionally, there are some amazing campsites near the trail. I think this is a better option than Pine Mountain.

When we reached Rhododendron Gap we skipped the out-and-back to Thomas Knob and walked back towards the state park. My feet at this point were killing me due to new shoes that I hated and am returning pronto. We opted to take the Appalachian Trail instead of the Wilburn Ridge Trail since it requires more scrambling and foot traction. However, the AT through Wilburn Ridge is still rocky as hell. In my opinion the Grayson Highlands region has some of the worst rocks I've encountered in the SE Blue Ridge, so predict your feet might be hurting after a simple day hike. The nice thing about this loop is you can shorten or lengthen it with out-and-backs to viewpoints, or with shortcuts using the horse trails instead of hiking trails. This area is full of modifications that can keep every visit interesting. Side note - bear lockers have been installed at the Wise Shelter, and all of the shelters in this area.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 15, 2019
This hike has become my all time favorite in Virginia. I am definitely going to be going back to Grayson Highlands to do this hike again. We saw a lot of the wild ponies, horses, and the views were spectacular. I could have easily taken over 300 pictures with the amazing and incredible views that we saw.

We did make a couple of changes to the hike. We did not go out to the Thomas Knob Shelter and Mt. Rogers, and we hiked the Crest Trail instead of the Pine Mountain Trail to the Rhododendron Gap intersection with the Appalachian Trail. The total distance was exactly 12 miles. The views from Rhododendron Gap back to Massie's Gap were absolutely amazing. With the low humidity, We could make out the mountains in North Caroline and Tennessee. We could even make out Big Hump Mountain and Little Hump Mountain in the Roan Highlands.

By: Dan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 21, 2017
I did this as a day hike and it was absolutely amazing. I got started by 9am on an October Saturday and beat most of the crowds at the start. I intended to do the hike as written, but got tired and decided not to go out to Thomas Knob Shelter or Mount Rogers. Then coming down I got a little confused and ended up taking a different trail down and hit the crowds of Cub Scout backpackers and pony watchers. My knees and ankles took a beating on the last three miles, but well worth it. Overall, I went 12 miles in 6.5 hours but I took a little nap in the autumn sun. Can't wait to do this as a overnighter.

By: Whitney K. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 9, 2017
We've done this hike twice as an overnight backpack, and it's great as written, but I did want to make a few notes:

Somewhere between mile 1.8 and 2.6 on this hike, (so after the bridge and before the Wise Shelter, a little ways after the fence line ends) there is a confusing intersection where the AT bears right. Make sure you stay right, and do NOT follow the dead-end trail to the left. It's a bit confusing.

The creek near the Wise Shelter is an excellent water source, and your only one besides the spring at the Thomas Knob Shelter, so make sure you plan accordingly, especially if it is hot out.

One thing this guide does not mention is the multiple small rock scrambles towards the end of the Pine Mountain Trail. They are definitely doable, but they're much easier on a day hike than they are at mile 9 of an overnight trip with a heavy pack. You can take the Crest Trail to avoid them. It's a bit boring and definitely longer than the Pine Mountain Trail, but the views are really nice.

Campsites: There are a lot of really nice sites between Rhododendron Gap and the Thomas Knob shelter. I would recommend walking further down the trail towards Thomas Knob and through the horse gate before you make camp, if you can, because you'll be much closer to the water source at the shelter if you need it. There are some really lovely sites near Rhododendron Gap though.

We've never done the scramble over Wilburn Ridge. The views on the AT, while arguably not as good, are still quite nice, and I don't think you're missing anything if you opt not to take the Wilburn Ridge trail.

Overall, this is one of our favorite hikes, and we would definitely consider doing it again!

By: Alex Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 15, 2015
Sunny & cool, no wind- perfect day for hiking. Took a loop hike exactly as described here, minus a detour to Thomas Knob/Mt. Rogers- done it before and was a bit pressed for time. Took me about 6 hrs to complete the loop. Pine Mountain Trail branches rather abruptly from AT- the good checkpoint is crossing over two horse gates in rapid succession- the trail is on the left immediately after the second gate. There is a sign there too, but it's not right in your face. Met ponies on Pine Mountain trail, but haven't seen any along Wilburn Ridge, where they often congregate.

By: David SS Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 4, 2015
Was a very fun hike, although we did an abbreviated version. Really the only demerit (aside from crummy weather), was that there were no views from the summit of Mt. Rogers. We started at the Massie Gap overnight lot, and went up the wilburn trail, then connected with the AT to the Thomas Knob Shelter, then kept going to the Mt. Rogers summit. Then we took the AT all the way back down to Massie gap. Trail marking on the Wilburn are very good, especially given that they are almost all among the rocky outcroppings on the ridge. Be prepared that if it is a windy day, you will have virtually no protection up there, so pack accordingly. The AT has a lot of horse traffic, so heads up for their droppings. Also from the wild ponies. Some may mind, but we didn't really care.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 4, 2015
David SS, I may have run into you because I hiked this the same day!  Did it with my girlfriend and dog, Sadie.

The weather was crappy in the morning, but fortunately cleared off for the afternoon and had some splendid views for about half of the hike.  We started by going clockwise, up and over Wilburn Ridge (zero views, was in the clouds and raining), and heading for an out and back to Mt. Rogers.  Back down from that, it finally started to clear, which was nice.  Headed down the Crest Trail, and then Pine Mountain before taking AT back to the Scales.  Took a shortcut from Scales using the Scales trail (this trail was kinda boring, probably wouldn't use it again) before getting back on the AT for some wonderful views at Massie Gap now that the clouds had cleared.  Overall, ended up being about 14.5 miles and took about 7.5 hours.  Can't wait for trip back down to explore some other parts of the area!

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