Mount Rogers, VA
October 20, 2017
Photographs by Jake Reynolds.
Replete with rolling hills, ancient spruce-fir forests, and a massive trail network, the Grayson Highlands offer some of the best hiking on the East Coast US. I climbed Mt. Rogers, the highest point in Virginia, as part of a short three-day backpacking trip through the area in late 2017.
After spending our first night at the Old Orchard shelter on the Appalachian Trail, we headed south on the trail towards the balds that make the region famous. Among the region’s quirks are the wild ponies introduced to the area in the 1950’s, which keep the hilly mountaintop pastures clear of vegetation.
Our second night was spent at a campsite adjacent to the Thomas Knob shelter, looking out over Cabin Ridge. The abundance of downed wood near our campsite allowed us to build a roaring fire to help fight the near-freezing weather.
The night sky near Mount Rogers is absolutely spectacular, with the Milky Way clearly visible between the tall conifers on top of the ridge.
On our third day we woke early and continued south to the summit of Mount Rogers. Tucked away on a spur trail off the AT, the peak is wooded and showcases the best of the area’s verdant, mossy spruce forests.
After a quick photo and snack, we hiked back north to our starting point and concluded our route, ready to head back north for some food and rest.