Grayson Highlands State Park

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Coordinates: 36°37′45″N 81°30′53″W / 36.629167°N 81.514606°W / 36.629167; -81.514606

Grayson Highlands State Park.

Grayson Highlands State Park is located in Virginia, United States, adjacent to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The park lies within Jefferson National Forest. The park was established in 1965 and contains a total of 4,822 acres (19.51 km²). The park hosts a number of outdoor activities including fishing/boating, hiking, camping, mountainbiking, horseback riding, and backpacking. A 2.8 mile (4.5 km) portion of the Appalachian Trail runs through the park in addition to a number of other hiking and horseback riding trails. The state park is musically notable as the home for the Grayson Highlands Fall Festival as well as weekly jam sessions by local folk musicians, who draw upon the traditional styles of the Blue Ridge area. The park is also home to the Wayne C. Henderson Festival and Guitar Competition, a regionally important festival and guitarist contest named for local notable guitar-maker Wayne Henderson.[1]

Looking west from Massie Gap.

The park also has a campground cabin store with candies and ice cream inside.

The park hosts forests like those on nearby Mount Rogers, as well as a number of mountain meadows or balds. These meadows provide excellent views of the surrounding area and present a striking change in scenery from the surrounding forests. The balds are dominated by large rocky outcroppings clear of vegetation excepting the occasional windswept tree and low grasses.

Ponies[edit]

A mare and her foal on Wilburn Ridge.

The balds are inhabited by a herd of introduced ponies allowed to run wild within the confines of the park. The ponies are very accustomed to humans and rarely halt their grazing as hikers pass close by. Many locals touch and feed the ponies, though this practice is frowned upon and against park policy. Each year, park officials round up the herd and check for health problems in addition to reducing the herd size if necessary; the excess colts are sold at auction.

Festivals[edit]

The Grayson Highlands Fall Festival is an annual event held at the park during the fall. The festival hosts a variety of entertainment including live bluegrass and traditional music, molasses making, and demonstrations focusing on pioneer-living. The festival is also home to a local crafts fair and auctions for the selling of the excess colts from the "wild" pony herd. The ponies are managed by the Wilburn Ridge Pony Association.

Trails[edit]

Wild ponies on Wilburn Ridge.
A stallion on Wilburn Ridge.

Hiking trails[edit]

  • Rhododendron Trail: 1.0 mile (1.6 km)
  • Cabin Creek Trail: 1.9 miles (3.1 km) loop
  • Big Pinnacle Trail: 0.4 mile (0.6 km)
  • Twin Pinnacles Trail: 1.6 miles (2.6 km)
  • Listening Rock Trail: 2.0 mile (3.2 km) loop
  • Wilson Creek Trail: 1.8 miles (2.9 km)
  • Stampers Branch Trail: 2.0 miles (3.2 km)
  • Rock House Ridge Trail: 1.2 miles (1.9 km) loop
  • Appalachian Trail: 2.8 miles (4.5 km)
  • Horse Trail (east): 1.7 miles (2.7 km)
  • Horse Trail (north): 1.0 mile (1.6 km)
  • Seed Orchard Road: 1.3 miles (2.1 km)
  • Old Upchurch Road: 3.7 (6.0 km)
  • Service Road: 0.5 mile (0.8 km)
  • Appalachian Spur Trail: 0.75 mile (1.2 km)
  • Wilburn Branch Trail: 0.8 mile (1.3 km)

Horseback riding trails[edit]

  • Horse Trail (east): 1.7 miles (2.7 km)
  • Horse Trail (north): 1.0 mile (1.6 km)
  • Seed Orchard Road: 1.3 miles (2.1 km)
  • Old Upchurch Road: 3.7 miles (6.0 km)

Nearby state parks[edit]

The following state parks are within 30 miles (48 km) of Grayson Highlands State Park:

Elk Knob State Park, North Carolina
New River State Park, North Carolina
Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, North Carolina
Stone Mountain State Park, North Carolina

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fussell, pgs. 76 - 77
  • Fussell, Fred C. (2003). Blue Ridge Music Trails: Finding a Place in the Circle. North Carolina Folklife Institute. 080785459X. 

External links[edit]