Tidbits: Highest point in Virginia
Summitted, April 13, 2016
Time Zone: GMT -5 hours
When to go:
Best to go between April and November.
I took the Rhododendron Trail, connecting to the Appalachian Trail (about 9 miles round-trip).
Hotel and Climb Reservation:
No guide, permit, or trail reservations are required, however you will have to pay a small entrance fee at the park where the trail-head is located.
Standard equipment for a day hike with extra warm clothing in case bad weather moves in.
You need to head to Grayson Highlands State Park located on US Highway 58 about 26 miles east of Damascus Virginia.
Mount Rogers proved to be a series of surprises, both good and bad. I required two visits (scheduled years apart) to finally make it to the summit. My first attempt was in early winter. A freak snow storm came in a few days earlier and there was 2+ feet of non-packed snow making the trail unpassable. The winter views were great, but I could not check this high-point off my list until I returned in 2016.
A few comments on the area...I do not mean this in a derogatory way, but I have been to 48 States and the poverty in this area of Virginia is, by far, the worst I have ever seen. People living in broken down shacks. No reliable electricity (including at the park when I visited), no cell service, people selling mule-meat, fresh squirrel, and one eating place advertised "chairs and tables" to sit on if you ate there. I stayed at a local hotel the first time and asked if they had a washer and dryer for clothes...the clerk said "no" and I asked him where the local people go to clean their clothes and he replied "the river over yonder".
When I returned in 2016, I picked a beautiful day with clear skies and crisp temperatures. The beginning of the trail is well marked, but there are a lot of turns to make. I got lost TWICE on my return hike...not fun! One nice surprise is that Mount Rogers has herds of wild ponies that are friendly and happy to pose for a photo.
During the hike there were may great views (although none at the actual summit) and you will come across a few Appalachian Trail hikers. The summit is marked by a small USGS marker that can be tricky to find.
Poverty stricken local areas
A special on "Mule Burgers"
Wild ponies on the mountain
Photo of me with the local inhabitants
Typical trail section
Elusive USGS summit marker