View Full Version : Grayson Highlands

09-25-2013, 22:18
Looking for any information regarding early Dec. section hike at Grayson Highlands.

Thank you in advance.

09-25-2013, 22:57
It will snow.

Sent from somewhere.

09-26-2013, 00:07
& it will be beautiful. Prepare for very cold nights & very cold winds & possible snow. Have Fun!!!

09-26-2013, 08:12
Beautiful. And cold. With snow. It's elevation lends itself to deep snow/drifting if it does snow. If you're going for a short section hike, consider postponing if snow is in the forecast. Otherwise, you might want to beg/borrow some snowshoes and mittens. The wind at 5,000 feet can be pretty harsh when it's cold. Make sure your sleep system is rock solid. Cell coverage is iffy at best and there's no quick access road to civilization in the middle of the park. Once you're in, you're.

Don't let this dissuade you! Winter hikes are some of my favorites. Just be prepared. Do you have experience winter hiking? Any tips you need there?

Lone Wolf
09-26-2013, 09:13
there may not be any snow or extreme cold temps at all. just wait til a week or ten days before you go and get the 10 day forecast for grayson highlands state park

Lone Wolf
09-26-2013, 09:20
i drove up to the Scales one year on christmas day. there was no snow and temps in the 40s

09-26-2013, 10:23
As LW accurately points out, it can be sunny and in the 40's, or there can be 6" or more (though unlikely) of snow. The trails are well marked and even in a heavy snowfall (several feet) I've had no problems hiking the area (without snowshoes but gaiters came in handy). I'd much rather have snow than cold rain/sleet/high winds. Its a fantastic place regardless of weather conditions.

09-26-2013, 11:24
I hiked in a a snow storm in Oct 2011 and lost the trail up there. Snow was falling so hard I couldn't see 20 feet away. After barely reaching the Elk Garden parking lot, we bailed. In Damascus it was 60 degrees and sunny.

Tennessee Viking
09-26-2013, 11:59
Expect anything from Dec to April. It may snow or it may be sunny. But it will be windy and the ponies are furry.

Tipi Walter
09-26-2013, 12:14
I lived in the Mt Rogers area (Boone NC) for 30 years and as a general rule the big snowstorms don't hit the high ground until after Christmas. Jan/Feb? All bets are off.

09-29-2013, 00:16
Only thing that would concern me is ice and snow on the rocks coming north out of Thomas Knob on the AT. Once you get down off of the rocks and into Grayson Highlands, you're either going to follow trails down to Wise Shelter or down to the Parking lot. If you get to Wise and need to bail, there's a short 1.5 or so hike out to the park store and then another 2 or 3 mile hike down to the ranger office.

Of all the places to get lost at this is going to be one of the hardest. As far as weather, snow possibly or could be in the 60s. Weather up there can be kind of erratic.

Not Sunshine
09-29-2013, 10:18
A previous poster brought up a VERY good point: even with just a thin layer of snow - you can easily get lost. There are a lot of areas where the blazes are painted on the rocks on the ground.

And with all the pony trails - even without snow, just day dreaming can get you lost on another pony trail.

Question for others: what is the water situation up near Thomas Knob these days?

Lone Wolf
09-29-2013, 11:42
Question for others: what is the water situation up near Thomas Knob these days?

plenty of water up there

09-29-2013, 19:58
I did a two day hike in Mt Rodgers in February this year. It was 19 degrees when I get out of my car in the parking lot. So, it was a lot colder at the top. It was snowing and a steady 10-15 MPH winds with at least 20-30 MPH gust. It was cold and it is hard to see white blazes in a totally white environment. I was average just under 1 MPH. I usually average 3 MPH. It was hard, but I loved it and will do it again this year.

The Solemates
09-30-2013, 12:47
we went to the grayson highlands fall festival over the weekend. it was 69 degrees and sunny in damascus when we left. it was 52 degrees and windy in the park, and we were not along the ridgeline. the day before it was 65 and sunny at green cove along the creeper. as others have said, its a crapshoot not just from day to day but from hour to hour.

09-30-2013, 12:50
We went on May 15th this year and were greeted by a howling storm, complete with sleet.

09-30-2013, 15:05
We did an eleven-mile section from Whitetop to GHP with a bunch of kids. If memory serves, it was in late January.

We arrived late, starting the trail way after dark with snow coming down in a strong cold wind. It was difficult to find the trail with the dark, the snow, and the weather, so we went a little ways and set up in a semi-sheltered spot beside the trail. The ground was frozen, but not cold enough. One poor boy pitched his tent in a low spot, and woke up in a small pool where his body heat had thawed the snow.

Next day's weather was beautiful, but still chilly with a cold wind. In the open areas there was no snow. In the shadows of the woods, snow was packed on the trail, and we post-holed frequently. I've never used snowshoes, but I don't think they would have been helpful. Gaiters would have been nice.

That night we camped a little distance from Thomas Knob. The wind was fierce, so we hunkered down in a semi-wooded area on the lee side of a hill. Next day we petted ponies and hiked out.

I read the Barefoot Sisters' book, Southbound this summer. Their account of going through GHP in the winter was captivating. They had harsh weather, deep snow, whiteouts - truly dangerous conditions.