Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

Mount Rogers from Rhododendron Gap
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (NRA) encompasses approximately 20,000 acres of land in Jefferson National Forest in southwest Virginia.  Located in the highlands of Virginia, two of the highest peaks in the state are located with the NRA - Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia at 5,729 feet and Whitetop.  The NRA was established by Congress on May 31, 1966.  The mountain and NRA were named after William Bartram Rogers, who was the first state geologist in Virginia and who founded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Mount Rogers NRA encompasses a large area and has many parking areas for access.  See the map below for directions to specific areas.  However, the most common access point is through Grayson Highlands State Park, which has an overnight parking lot for backpacking in the NRA and easy access for day hikes.



With over 500 miles of trails, Mount Rogers is a fantastic place for hiking.  See the trails listed below for specific trails.

Appalachian Trail:

Length: 60 miles (within the NRA).
Difficulty: Strenuous
Blaze: White Line

60 miles of the long-distance Appalachian Trail (AT) run through the recreation area on its course from Georgia to Maine.  With exposed balds and fantastic panoramic views, this section of the AT is particularly popular and scenic for those not intending to thru-hike the entire trail.

View from along the Appalachian Trail

Mount Rogers Spur Trail:

Length: 0.5 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate

The Mount Rogers Spur Trail is a short trail that leads from the AT near Thomas Knob Shelter up to the summit of Mount Rogers.  The spur departs from the open balds that the AT traverses and enters a forest of red spruce and Frasier fir as it reaches the summit of Virginia's highest mountain.  This forested area on the summit of Mount Rogers is sometimes called the "enchanted forest".  There is no overlook or scenic views at the top - you'll know you're there when the trail ends and you see the US Geodesic Survey marker.

Enchanted Forest

Points of Interest:

Buzzard Rock:

Buzzard Rock is a scenic near Whitetop Mountain.  It can be accessed from the Whitetop parking area and heading southbound on the AT for about a mile or from the SR-601 parking area and hiking northbound.  From the latter, it is a strenuous climb up Beech Mountain before reaching Buzzard Rock, gaining about 1500 feet in about 3 miles.  From the rock, there are beautiful panoramic views to the south, with the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee visible.  There are also many flame azaleas growing around the rock, displaying beautiful orange, red, and yellow flowers in the early summer.

View from Buzzard Rock

Mount Rogers:

Rhododendron Gap:

Blog Entries:

18-Jun-2017: Ponies & Waterfalls

External Links:

US Forest Service website:


Mount Rogers National Recreation Area


Mount Rogers National Recreation Area