Virginia Creeper Trail Bike Ride and Grayson Highlands State Park Day Hiking – Day 2

After our bike ride on the Creeper Trail, we drove to the bunkhouse at Grayson Highlands State Park and unloaded our vehicles.  Judging by how much there was to unload, it appeared to me that some of our group were planning to move in permanently.

Inside the bunkhouse, we picked our spots and laid out our sleeping bags and quilts, then we ate hot dogs for dinner and looked over the map, deciding what trails we would hike Saturday.

The temperature dropped into the low 50’s so we tried to make a fire in the fire ring behind the bunkhouse. There must have been rain in the morning, before we arrived, because everything was wet and it proved to be a difficult task.  Eventually, we had a small fire going with some hot coals.  It felt nice and warm as long as you sat real close.

Later that night, after the six of us had gone to sleep, two more members of our hiking club, Wayne and Ron, arrived. Because of work, they had not been able to come earlier and missed the bike ride, but they would be able to hike with us on Saturday and Sunday.

We were all awake by 6 am Saturday.  Some were up even earlier.  We ate a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, bread, butter and strawberry preserves (Thanks Martha for all your planning and preparations).

Right after breakfast, we began our hike.  We started out on the Rhododendron Trail.  Our plan was to join up with the Appalachian Trail and to hike south to Elk Gardens where we had shuttled a vehicle.

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A few minutes into our hike, we came upon a dozen or so of the wild ponies that roam the park.

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Here, the Rhododendron Trail intersects with the Appalachian Trail.

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It’s a moderate climb on the A.T. along here and there were lots of boulders.

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At this spot, the trail passes through a narrow opening between two large slabs of rock and is called Fat-mans Squeeze.

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We had lots of wide open views for much of the day.  This image was taken on our approach to the Mt. Rogers spur trail.

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When we reached the spur, Wayne, Ron, and I hiked up to the summit of Mt. Rogers.  It’s forested at the top so there are no big views, but at 5,729 feet, it’s the highest summit in Virginia.

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We rejoined the A.T. and continued hiking south.  Just beyond this section, the trail drops down and enters the woods.  The trail remains in the woods for the next several miles.

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Less than a mile from Elk Gardens, the trail breaks out into the open again.

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Here we passed a field of wildflowers growing along the trail.

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Finally, just one last hill between us and our destination.

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When we had all reached our vehicle, we drove back to the park and did some sightseeing.  Within the park is an old homestead, complete with cabins, corn crib, barn, and a springhouse.

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In the midst of the homestead, was a Crabapple Tree covered with fruit.

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After sightseeing, we went back to the bunkhouse and ate a dinner of spaghetti and tossed salad.  When we were done eating, we headed out once more, this time to hike the Twin Pinnacles Trail.  At the top of Little Pinnacle, we sat and watched a beautiful sunset.  All in all, a great way to end the day.

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