Grayson Highlands, Virginia, USA

If you love horses, this hike is for you! The Grayson Highlands are home to over one hundred wild ponies and a handful of longhorn cattle, the purpose of whom is to maintain the balds by eating invasive plant species! The path we recommend follows the Appalachian Trail and will take you through a corner of the Highlands and over Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, the two tallest peaks in Virginia. Geologists will take interest in studying the rock in this area, most of which is said to be volcanic. Even if by some miracle you don't meet a pony, this windswept wilderness with its grassy balds, shadowy pine forest, curious quartz outcroppings, rushing streams and rhododendron-walled pathways is a delight to explore!

FLORA & FAUNA: deciduous and evergreen forest, rhododendron, ponies, longhorn cattle, white-tailed deer, bobcat, bald eagle, otter, marten, weasel.

TERRAIN: grassy bald, mountain, forest

BEST TIME TO VISIT: Year round. Late May through June for peak rhododendron bloom. Typically low snowpack in winter.


Y Day Trip
Y Weekend Trip
Y 4 to 7-Day Trip
N 7 to 14-Day Trip
Y Shuttle Service Nearby

HAZARDS: Exposed sections of trail.



PETS ALLOWED? Yes. Rules apply.


Grayson Highlands, Mt. Rogers & Whitetop Mountain Itinerary: 31 miles total

Day 1
Drive to US 58, Feathercamp Branch parking lot. Get a shuttle ride to The Scales.
Hike south on the Appalachian Trail, 3.2 miles to Wise Shelter.

Day 2
Hike 21.6 miles to camp at pond; if you see Beartree Gap Trail intersection, you've gone 0.1 mile too far.

Day 3
Hike 6.3 miles to your car at US 58.

This area contains continuous rolling ascents and descents. Mileage shown is not ideal for first-timers. For a more laid-back trek, end your hike at VA 601 (18.3 miles total instead of 31 miles total).


Woodchuck Hostel, Damascus VA (406) 407-1272
Mt. Rogers Outfitters, Damascus VA (276) 475-5416

Emergency Contact Information: 
Information: Grayson Highland State Park, (276) 579-7092
Optional activities in the area: 

Fishing, kayaking and canoeing the New River, biking on the Creeper Trail, visit Damascus, VA, a nostalgic trail town built around hiking and biking which hosts the annual Appalachian Trail Days in May.