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Mount Rogers

Background Information:


Altitude: 5,729'

Tidbits:  Highest point in Virginia

Summitted, April 13, 2016


Time Zone: GMT -5  hours


When to go:

Best to go between April and November.

Route Selection:

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. 


Packing List:

Standard equipment for a day hike with extra warm clothing in case bad weather moves in.


Getting There:

You need to head to Grayson Highlands State Park located on US Highway 58 about 26 miles east of Damascus Virginia.


Trip Description:

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"

Trailhead (springtime)

Trailhead (winter)

Wild ponies on the mountain

Photo of me with the local inhabitants

Typical trail section

Elusive USGS summit marker

Summit selfie

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