Life Outside Summer 2018 - 31

It's easy to take the Grayson Highlands
for granted. But those of us who love
the Virginia mountains shouldn't
delay our next-or first!-visit to the
balds, the ponies and the elevation.
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY EVAN NOWAK
SWEEPING VISTAS, STUNNING BALDS, lush forests,
WONDERS OF
THE HIGHLANDS
About 100 ponies
wander the milehigh area, often on
bald areas like the
one below.

mile-high mountains, and of course , the ponies.
No, we're not talking out west somewhere. These
can all be found down in our southwest corner-in
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Grayson
Highlands State Park.
Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast who has
been a dozen times in all seasons or a family looking
for a unique weekend getaway, the Grayson Highlands are a signature spot in the Virginia mountains.
For those looking to accomplish an impressive
feat while they're in the area, you can summit the
highest point in Virginia: Mount Rogers. After an
11- mile hike and 2,532-foot elevation gain along
the Mount Rogers Trail, (there's a shorter way up,
from Elk Garden), you'll be rewarded with something special and only available in Virginia. Instead
of opening up to an exposed peak, Mount Rogers
has a lush forest perched at the top of the 5,729foot mountain. If you're in it for the views though,
don't get discouraged. The hike up to the peak has
a handful of incredible views along the trail.
If summiting state high points isn't your thing,
then maybe you'd want to pay a visit to the ponies
in Grayson Highlands. It only takes a short hike
up the Rhododendron Trail to find them, and it's
definitely worth the trek. These ponies are incredibly
photogenic and are always ready for an Instagram
photo shoot. Just be careful not to pet or feed them,
as they are still wild animals.
It doesn't matter if you live 15 minutes or four
hours away from Virginia's Grayson Highlands
State Park and Mount Rogers National Recreation
Area, you're going to want to pay a visit to these
hidden gems. This was my first visit, and I'll never
forget it.

Q

LifeOutsideMag.com // Summer 2018

31


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Life Outside Summer 2018

Life Outside Summer 2018 - 1
Life Outside Summer 2018 - 2
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/Life_Outside_Summer_2018
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