Wild ponies are a majestic sight in their natural habitat and many don’t realize you can find them at opposite ends of Virginia in the southwestern part of the state and on the eastern shore.
In the Appalachia Mountains, wild ponies roam free along the sloping grasslands of Mount Rogers, Virginia’s highest peak. The ponies were introduced to the area in 1974 to prevent reforestation of the grassy, bald mountaintops that provide sweeping views of the surrounding wilderness.
There are over 400 miles of trails between the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Grayson Highlands State Park. Most trails are for foot traffic, but there are some bridal and bicycle trails as well. The most notable is the Appalachian Trail and the only section of the 2,190 mile footpath where hikers can see wild ponies. The wild ponies’ favorite spot is along the Rhododendron Trail, and there’s a good chance you’ll find them here when you visit. Don’t forget the ponies are wild animals are should not be pet or fed!
Wild ponies have inhabited Assateague Island for hundreds of years. Their origin story has been passed down for many generations stating they came from a Spanish shipwreck off the island’s coast. Today the ponies live free in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and are maintained by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department. The ponies can be seen year-round when you visit the Assateague Island National Seashore Visitor Center. These ponies are wild and should not be approached, touched or fed.
Each July the ponies are herded in a mass swim across the channel from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island, properly named the Pony Swim. The amazing site and nationally recognized event ends in an auction by the fire department to maintain a heard size of 150 ponies.
Last Updated: 9/21/2020