If you’re the least bit fond of the outdoors, you’ll find plenty to do at Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (NRA). Get out and enjoy your National Forest!
1. Mount Rogers Hike—the summit is located in Grayson and Smyth Counties; the most popular route to the highest point in VA is from Massie Gap inside Grayson Highlands State Park, 9 miles round trip; from Elk Garden Trailhead, 9 miles round trip; from the Mount Rogers Trailhead near Grindstone, 13 miles round trip; these access points are in Grayson County. [strenuous]
2. Rowland Creek Falls—the short hike is 3 miles round trip; access from Forest Service Road (FSR) 84 or SR 643; located in Seng Mountain National Scenic Area in Smyth Co. [strenuous]
3. Green Cove Station—visit/tour former N&W Railroad Depot, store, post office, Western Union; now a visitor center on the Virginia Creeper Trail; SR 601 in Washington Co. (open seasonally)
4. Virginia Creeper Trail—34 miles rail trail, 17 of which are on National Forest; shuttle operators offer bike rental and/or transportation; there are many access points; between Abingdon and Whitetop in Grayson and Washington Co. [easy]
5. Accessible Fishing Trail—Whitetop Laurel Creek, a special regulation area; ½ mile in Washington Co. [easy]
6. Appalachian Trail—60 miles of the AT go through the NRA including the high country; there are many access points for shorter hikes or combinations with neighboring trails; foot travel only (various counties)
7. Settler’s Museum—go back in time; tour the historic farm and school; open April through mid-November; Smyth Co. Settler's Museum Link
8. Camping—there are 11 campgrounds including 4 horse camps; Camping Link for Mount Rogers NRA
Reservations: 1-877-444-6777 or Camping Reservations
a. Grayson Co.: Fox Creek Horse Camp, Old Virginia Horse Camp
b. Grayson/Wythe Co. Line: Comer’s Rock
c. Smyth Co.: Grindstone, Hurricane, Raccoon Branch
d. Washington Co.: Beartree
e. Wythe Co.: Collins Cove Horse Camp, Hussy Mountain Horse Camp, Raven Cliff, Stony Fork
9. Rent a cabin—3 cabins are available by reservation (see above links)
a. Carroll Co.: Sunrise Cabin
b. Grayson Co.: Blue Springs Gap Cabin
c. Wythe Co.: Stony Fork Cabin
10. Beartree Lake Trail—1 mile loop; Washington Co. [easy]
11. Hale Lake Trail—1 mile loop; Grayson Co. [easy]
12. Picnicking—most campgrounds have picnic options
13. Pat Jennings Visitor Center—headquarters for the NRA; maps, books, and other interpretive items are for sale; Smyth Co.
a. Appalachian Trail goes through the parking lot [easy]
b. Two Ponds Trail; hike or go fishing; ½ mile loop [easy]
14. Virginia Highlands Horse Trail—67 miles of trail from VA 94 on the east end of the NRA through the high country; many access points (various counties); [moderate]
15. Whitetop Summit—drive to the second highest peak in VA and the highest auto road; the view is spectacular on a clear day; Grayson/Smyth/Washington Co.
16. Dickey’s Knob Trail—access from site 6 at Raccoon Branch Campground in Smyth Co.; 4.9 miles round trip to view Rye Valley from above; foot travel only [moderate]
17. Ponies in the high country—a short hike from Grayson Highlands State Park or Elk Garden Trailhead; Grayson Co. [moderate]
18. Comers Creek Falls Trail— ½ mile round trip to a nice little waterfall; Smyth Co.; go after a good rain and you’ll be rewarded with a good flow [easy]
19. Raven Cliff Furnace—1 mile round trip walk from within the Raven Cliff Campground to see remnants of old iron ore furnace; Wythe Co. [easy]
20. Wythe Shooting Range—targets for pistols and rifles; Wythe Co.
21. Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, Mount Rogers Loop VA Birding and Wildlife Trail
22. Rhododendron Gap Hike—mid-June is when the rhododendron are blooming; shortest access is from Massie Gap; 4 miles round trip; Grayson Co. [moderate]
23. Blueberry Picking—on Pine Mountain in August; high-clearance 4x4 vehicle access on FSR 613 from SR 603; Grayson Co.
24. Wildflower Viewing—most campground trails; Whispering Waters Trail in Grindstone is one of the best; Elk Garden to Whitetop on AT; fields at Whitetop; Fairwood Valley; Mount Rogers Trail (various counties)
25. Take in the night sky—find open areas at night, remember to look up and take in the view
26. Skulls Gap Overlook off SR 600; check it out in each season and varying weather conditions; Smyth Co.
27. Comers Rock Overlook—½ mile round trip hike for beautiful scenery; Grayson Co. [strenuous]
28. Camp out under the stars—you don’t have to stay in a campground to camp on the NRA; practice leave no trace when camping or hiking
29. Wildlife viewing—look for tracks and sign of bear, deer, bobcat, coyote, and raccoon
30. Eastern Hellbender—view one at the NRA headquarters; Smyth Co.
31. Drive scenic byways and roads in and around the NRA
a. Mount Rogers Scenic Byway; 44 miles Mount Rogers Scenic Byway VA.org (Grayson, Smyth, Washington Co.)
b. Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway 16.2 miles; Wythe Co. Big Walker Byway VA.org
c. Back of the Dragon; 32 miles; Smyth and Tazewell Co. Back of the Dragon VA.org
d. Back roads including Forest Service Roads
32. Lewis Fork Trailhead off SR 603; Grayson Co.—walk through the field in the fall and be rewarded with the beauty of butterflies [easy]
33. Fox Creek Falls—stop by the roadside on SR 603 and enjoy the falls of Fox Creek; Grayson Co.
34. Kayak the lakes and streams
35. Beartree Beach—swim in the lake or play in the sand; Washington Co.
36. Take in the smell of fall in the woods
37. Listen for spring peepers
38. Whitetop Station—exhibits on train history (open seasonally); Grayson Co.
39. Fishing in Forest Service lakes/ponds
a. Beartree Lake; off US 58; Washington Co.
b. Hale Lake; off FSR 57; Grayson Co.
c. Gullion Fork Pond; off SR 52 onto FSR 221; Wythe Co.
40. Elk Garden Trailhead—take a hike to stretch your legs or enjoy the view from your car; off SR 600; Smyth/Grayson Co. line
41. Buzzard Rock Hike—near Whitetop summit on the AT; Grayson Co.; 2 miles round trip [easy]
42. Look for salamanders in streams and in the woods
43. Seven Sisters Trail—7 miles round trip; Wythe Co. near Stony Fork Campground [moderate]
44. Big Bend Overlook—off SR 52 on FSR 206; Wythe Co. Good spot for raptor viewing during spring/fall migration
45. Stony Fork Nature Trail—1 mile trail through stands of pine and hardwoods; access at Stony Fork Campground; Wythe Co.
46. New River access—off SR 737; Carroll Co.
47. Trail Motorcycle Riding—portion of Iron Mountain Trail Damascus to Skulls Gap 13.4 miles (year round access; other sections are seasonal; state laws apply); Washington Co.
48. South Fork Holston River Anglers Trail—2.7 miles off SR 670; wear waders; Smyth Co. [moderate]
49. Wilderness Experience
a. Lewis Fork Wilderness in Smyth and Grayson Co.
b. Little Dry Run Wilderness in Wythe Co.
c. Little Wilson Creek Wilderness in Grayson Co.
d. Raccoon Branch Wilderness in Smyth Co.
50. Virginia State Parks neighboring the NRA; see VA State Parks at DCR for more information
a. Grayson Highlands in Grayson Co.
b. Hungry Mother in Smyth Co.
c. New River Trail in Carroll/Grayson/Pulaski/Wythe Co.
Call 276-783-5196 or 1-800-628-7202 for more information
Last Updated: 12/14/2016