I just thought I would share this hike with the AHG if anyone is up for an adventure. This is posted in the "Tennessee Take-a-Hike" Meetup Group as well. **"Not Going" RSVP's are unnecessary, I am more interested in who, if anyone is "Going". Thanks.
Since Spring has sprung lets "spring" out to Grayson Highlands State Park and do a very,very nice 9 mile round-trip hike to and from Mount Rogers starting from the Massie Gap Parking Area.
There is roughly 1100ft of elevation gain/loss in a 4.5 mile stretch heading to Mt. Rogers, so although there is a climb...it is going to be very gradual. This hike is an EASY/MODERATE hike that will offer up fantastic views,beautiful trails and unique terrain\environment. This is truly my favorite area to hike and I believe it will be yours as well!
We will meet at Perkins at 8:00am to arrange carpooling and then leave promptly at 8:15a to make the 75 mile/1 1/2 hour drive to the Massie Gap Parking and start the hike at 10am-ish. Be sure to have cash on hand,($5-10) to help with the fuel cost of your driver.
This hike will be hiked at a pleasurable pace so as to allow all of us plenty of time to soak up the land and take plenty of pictures. Overall, the hike with lunch, should take roughly 5-6 hours and have us back at Perkins at 4:30-5:30p. PLEASE leave your entire day open as I do not want anyone rushed to get back. I instead want us all to enjoy this hike in its entirety.
We will cross the field at the Massie Gap parking lot and go through the gate to start the trail.
We will now be on the Rhododendron Trail for .8 mile until it intersects the Virginia Highlands Connector Trail. Take a left on this trail for just .2 miles.
When we reach the junction with the Appalachian trail, head south. We will shortly leave Grayson Highlands State Park and enter Mount Rogers National Recreation Area through a gate – continue straight on the AT at this point. After another .25 mile, we will have the option to stay straight on the Appalachian Trail or turn left and proceed on the Wilburn Ridge Trail. The distance is about 1 mile either way. The Wilburn Ridge Trail does join back to the AT. It is a tougher rock scramble, but I would recommend doing it on the way up rather than the way down.
Once we are back on the AT, proceed for another mile until we reach a junction of trails. This area is known as Rhododendron Gap and comes to an elevation of 5526 feet. At this junction, there is a large pinnacle rock. Climbing up the rock will give us gorgeous panoramic views that are a must-see of the hike. This area joins the AT with the Pine Mountain Trail and Crest Trail. Once we enjoy the view, we will make sure you to follow the white blazes to stay on the AT.
We will then proceed on the AT for about 1.5 miles, walking through the bald area known as the Crest Zone, until we reach the Thomas Knob Shelter, protected by gates on both sides. This is a great place to grab a snack or have lunch. There are also great views behind the cabin. This cabin sleeps plenty, since there is a ladder that goes to a second floor, allowing a little light through two small windows on the side.
Once we leave the shelter through the gate, we will be entering the Lewis Fork Wilderness. Shortly after this point, to reach the summit we will need to leave the AT and proceed to the summit by taking the Mount Rogers Spur Trail for .5 mile straight ahead. The summit is marked by a simple USGS benchmark in the stone and the environment here is super lush and almost whimsical,(and quite muddy).
We will head back the way we came from here.
**BE SURE TO HAVE ON YOU FOR THIS HIKE**:
*At least a liter of water for the hike in,(there is a great water source at the Thomas Knob Shelter to refill.)
*Enough food/snacks to provide you with plenty of energy.
*Be dressed in LAYERS,(the weather can and probably will change several times during the hike, DO NOT commit to a set-temperature).
*Appropriate Hiking shoes/boots...this will provide you with the sure-footing you need.
*And last but not least, a love for nature and the willingness to enjoy this hike with others.
**Dogs are best left at home for this one as they often unintentionally scare other hikers or the Wild Ponies,(if they are out and about yet).**
Also, as this is a St. Patricks Day hike, you must wear atleast one article of clothing that is green as is the tradition. :)
I look forward to seeing you here in this beautiful part of the world so we can enjoy what I believe will be your favorite hike ever.
(All photos are actual photos taken by me last year).