Mount Rogers: Hiking Virginia's Highest Peak

by Bill & Mary Burnham

Scenery on the way up to Mount Rogers

Natural beauty comes in a many forms in Virginia's high country. Wild ponies frolic in high mountain meadows; shady hemlocks and deep pile moss lend a shrouded mystery to Virginia's highest peak.

We'll do away with the suspense right away: the top-most peak of the 5,729-foot monolith of volcanic rock is tree-covered with absolutely no view!

But enroute, western-inspired vistas and house-sized boulders strewn amid grassy meadows prove that it's the journey, not the destination, that matters most.

The Appalachian Trail

Many hikers claim this stretch to be the best of the Appalachian Trail's 2,000-plus miles. The famous footpath traverses the 117,000-acre Mount Rogers National Recreation Area on its way from Georgia to Maine.

In addition to the AT, you can lace up your boots and shoulder a pack for days upon days of hiking the area's 400 miles of trails.

A 7.6-mile loop in Little Wilson Creek Wilderness takes in a good bit of the high-country scenery, complete with wild berries, frolicing ponies and deep, lush woods where mushrooms thrive.

Of course, you can't skip doing the seven mile hike to the top of Mount Rogers, third loftiest peak in the Southern Appalachians.

Wild ponies in the Mount Rogers area

Virginia has tougher climbs, but bag this one and you can say "I climbed the highest mountain in the state."

Getting there: From Troutdale, take VA 603 west from its intersection with VA16. Go west 6.2 miles and turn lef tint the Grindstone Campground.

Topo Maps: USGS: Whitetop, VA

Contact: Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

Camp: There are seven campgrounds, AT shelters, cabins and primitive camping throughout the Mount Rogers area.

Hiking Virginia guidebook

Stay: A half dozen homes-turned-B&Bs are found in Damascus, dubbed "Trail Town USA" for its friendliness and the AT that runs down Main Street.

Click to read about Damascus, a great place to stay before or after a hike.

We wrote the book!

Several routes within Mount Rogers National Recreation Area are fully described with mile-by-mile cues, history and maps in the Burnhams' award-winning book, Hiking Virginia.