Rhododendron Trail is likely the most heavily used trail in the park. The main reason is that it is the connector trail to many of the park's other trails along with providing access to Mount Roger's Recreation Area and the Appalachian Trail. It is also the region's shortest route to Virginia's highest peak, Mt. Rogers, 5,729 feet. The trail ascends from the parking area branching in several directions carry hikers and hunters to Wilburn Ridge and beyond.
The trail is rated moderate, which is fairly accurate. Long-distance hikers will find this 4-person-wide path a mere connector. For those with small children or seniors this can be a grand mountain adventure topped off with a scenic picnic lunch. The trail has unbounded bonuses. From the onset, spectacular views rest over your shoulder. In late spring and early summer wildflowers brighten the woodland floor while Catawba Rhododendron engulf your senses. Visitors will find the soft meadow an invitation to picnic but if sitting on the ground is not appealing, there are tables (and pit toilets) next to the parking lot. Water and grills are available in the park's designated picnic ground.
One of the best-kept secrets of this 1-mile hike is the herd of wild ponies that graze along the higher ridges. Cared for by local volunteers, these beautiful animals offer warm greetings to all.
Visitors should be aware that this hike could be rocky and muddy. Seniors may wish to take a hiking stick.
Directions: From Damascus or Independence, VA, The park is located on U.S. 58 midway between Damascus and Independence, Virginia. From I-81 take Exit 45 in Marion, head south on RT. 16 to U.S. 58 which runs through Volney, Virginia. Turn right onto U.S. 58 and travel approximately eight miles to the park entrance. From I-77, take Exit 14 to U.S. 58 West and travel approximately 40 miles to Volney, Virginia. Continue west on U.S. 58 for approximately 8 miles to the park entrance. Travel the main park road to the Massie Gap parking area. Trailhead is located there.
Elevation: 5,000 feet
Elevation Gain: 360 feet
Distance: 1.0 miles
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Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia
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