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Grayson Highlands State Park

Sleeping Foal
Grayson Highlands is a park in Grayson County in southwestern Virginia just north of the North Carolina border.  Grayson Highlands State Park connects to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Jefferson National Forest, which includes Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia.

Grayson Highlands State Park was established in 1965 and was originally named Mount Rogers State Park.  Land and artifacts were acquired through fund-raising efforts of the local community, which overwhelmingly supported the establishment of the park.  Several of the areas within the park are named for early settlers in the area.  Massie Gap is named for Lee Massey, who lived in the area with his family in the late 19th and early 20th century.  Wilburn Ridge is named for the famous hunter and trapper Wilburn Waters.

Contact Information:

829 Grayson Highland Lane
Mouth of Wilson, VA 24363

Phone: (276) 579-7092

Email: graysonhighlands@dcr.virginia.gov

GPS Coordinates: 36.628322, -81.496889

Directions:

From I-81, take exit 45 in Marion and go south on VA-16.  In about 33 miles, turn right on US-58 and followed it 8 miles to the park entrance.  From I-77, take exit 14 (Hillsville) to US-58 west.  Go about 40 miles on US-58 to the town of Volnney, and turn left to stay on US-58.  The park entrance will be about 8 miles past the turn.

Map:

Hiking:

Big Pinnacle Trail:

Length: 0.4 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Yellow

The Big Pinnacle trail leads from Massie Gap up to Big Pinnacle and to the Twin Pinnacles Trail.  The trail is short, but steep, gaining 400 feet of elevation over the course of less than half a mile, with the steepest section at the base of the pinnacle.

View from Big Pinnacle

Cabin Creek Trail:

Length: 1.8 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Difficult
Blaze: Yellow

The Cabin Creek Trail starts at Massie Gap and leads down to Cabin Creek.  Cabin Creek was named because a small hunting cabin once stood on its bank and Lee Massie once lived above the creek.  The creek originates from between Cabin Ridge and Wilburn Ridge.  The trail splits soon after it starts and following the left fork, it is about a half mile down to the creek.  A small waterfall is another tenth of a mile along the trail.  The trail continues along the creek for a ways to a Falls Overlook then returns back to the fork and back up to Massie Gap.

Cascade on Cabin Creek

Rhododendron Trail:

Length: 0.5 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Blue

The Rhododendron Trail leads from Massie Gap through a field and up an old wagon road to a hillside where ponies frequently graze.  The trail ends here where it intersects the Appalachian Trail.

Seed Orchard Road:

Length: 1.2 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Red

Seed Orchard Road is a mixed use (hiking/biking/horseback riding) trail that leads from across the street from the camp store at the family campground to the park border with Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.  The trail runs with the Wilson Creek Trail for about half of its length.

Twin Pinnacles Trail:

Length: 1.6 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Red

The Twin Pinnacles Trail starts from behind the visitor center near the top of Haw Orchard Mountain and leads to Little Pinnacle and Big Pinnacle, the two highest points in the park.  These rock outcrops provide beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, including Mount Rogers and Whitetop, the two highest mountain in Virginia, to the north and North Carolina and Tennessee to the south.

Little Pinnacle

Wilson Creek Trail:

Length: 1.78 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Difficult
Blaze: Red

The Wilson Creek Trail starts from across the street from the camp store.  It leads down to Wilson Creek and follows the creek upstream for about a mile.  There are numerous cascades and small waterfalls along this stretch of the trail.  It then climbs up and leads back to the campground along Seed Orchard Road.

Cascade on Wilson Creek

Points of Interest:

Wildlife:

Wild Ponies:

The park and neighboring Mount Rogers NRA are home to herds of wild ponies, whose grazing helps maintain the meadows along the mountains here.  They graze right along side of the trail and are used to seeing people.  Feel free to watch the ponies and take pictures, but please do not harass or feed them.  The first picture below is Fabio, may favorite of the ponies.  Being all black, with a long platinum-blonde mane and tail, he is absolutely beautiful.

Fabio Pony

Pony Grazing

Foal

Blog Entries:

2017-06-18: Ponies & Waterfalls

2017-06-16: Wilson Creek Hike

External Links:

Virginia State Parks website: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/gra.shtml