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  1. #1
    Registered User Pumba's Avatar
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    Default Mt. Rogers, Ponies and camping, Oh my!

    I'm heading to the Grayson Highlands for a few days with my daughter from 7/1 through 7/5. We are hoping to start at Massie Gap and head up to the AT, Possibly going up to the Old Orchard shelter, heading back to the AT and then taking the Pine Mt Trail, reconnecting with the AT and then back to Massie Gap. I read several of the posts in this forum, but couldn't find any clear information on camping. Is backcountry camping allowed in this area? From what I can tell, it is NOT allowed in the state park but it is in the national forest. Also, do you think this would be a good hike for a 12 yr old who really hasn't done any backpacking before? My thought is to just do a couple of miles the day we arrive, then maybe 5 miles the next two days.
    -------------------------------------------
    ~Brian

    I don't know what lies around the bend, but I'm going to believe that the best does.
    -- L.M. Montgomery

  2. #2
    Registered User chelko's Avatar
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    This is a great hike for a 12 year old. I did the very same loop over a weekend with my daughter (12 at the time). You can camp anywhere you want except the state park. On the first day once you get to the Wise shelter (about 2.5 miles in from parking lot) continue north on AT for about a quarter mile. You will cross a creek. Take the trail up the steep bank and you will arrive at a nice campsite just outside the park boundry. You can also stay at the shelter if you choose. It has a very nice privy and is worth walking back to from the campsite. Day 2 we went north on AT past the scales then turned left on Pine Mountain trail back to the At the south to the Thomas Knob area to camp. The best chance to see ponies is between Thomas Knob Shelter and Massie gap. Day 3 was from camp north on AT back to Massie gap and the car. Lots to see balds, forests, creeks etc keeps kids from getting board with the same old scenery.

  3. #3
    Thru Hike Dreamer Extraordinaire
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    Ditto on what Chelko said. Old Orchard Shelter has a lot of really good campsites with fire rings. Same is true with Thomas Knob Shelter. I have some advice for Thomas Knob though...Although you can camp on the balds, I highly recommend getting scooting down off the trail towards the woods. There are countless campsites there. The ridge and the woods will provide you shelter from the wind. Thomas Knob gets really windy and can get cold even this time of year. Your 12 year old will love it. This is my favorite place in the VA, NC, SC, or TN area.

  4. #4
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    Primo loop.
    I did not know camping was forbidden in GHSP (except in the campground).
    Even along the AT?

  5. #5
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJJ View Post
    Primo loop.
    I did not know camping was forbidden in GHSP (except in the campground).
    Even along the AT?
    Yes, though this is widely ignored.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  6. #6
    Registered User Pumba's Avatar
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    Default Mt. Rogers, Ponies and camping, Oh my!

    Cool. Thanks for the info and suggestions. We are both super excited about this. It'll be her first camping experience.
    -------------------------------------------
    ~Brian

    I don't know what lies around the bend, but I'm going to believe that the best does.
    -- L.M. Montgomery

  7. #7
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    I did this loop last month except I started at grindstone campground and fooled the connector trail to the AT. It trained the entire time hiking up to Thomas Knob and I had an entertaining time finding two trees to hang my hammock from. I ended up going past the shelter for several hundred yards and cutting back into the woods. It started hailing while I was setting up my hammock and tarp. Watched a pony walking off with a hikers Leki pole. It cleared up the next day while hiking into the park. Beautiful scenery for sure. Especially enjoyed the section of trail where the blazes are painted on the rock and the trail appears to go up and over a cliff. Ate lunch at Wise and gossiped for awhile with some thru hikers. Made the error of trying to keep pace with a thru hiker that seemed to kick into high speed at every uphill. Stayed night two at Old Orchard and listened to the super speed thru hiker poke fun at me for falling back with such a light pack on compared to his monstrous pack. Wish that I could remember his trail name. I just remember that he was missing a hand and impressed me greatly with his demeanor. Stayed up way too late talking. Continued on the AT the next morning to cross 603 and picked up the horse trail back to Grindstone. Definitely the best section hike that i've ever done.

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  8. #8
    Registered User Big Dawg's Avatar
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    My favorite place on the AT so far, and it's where I first stepped on the AT before deciding to start sectioning. It's magical! It's where I take all noobs who want to try backpacking. Just took my 19 yo niece there on her first backpacking trip. She had an awesome time!!! Check out my pics,,, many shots from that area. Have fun on your trip!!!
    NOBO section hiker, 1066.4 miles... & counting!!

  9. #9
    Registered User sevensixtwo187's Avatar
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    I was thinking about making a trip there this fall. I would like to do 3 nights/4 days in the area. Any suggestions for a route that would fit that?
    ____________________________________________
    An nescis, mi fili, quantilla sapientia mundus regatur?

  10. #10
    Thru Hike Dreamer Extraordinaire
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    Default Mt. Rogers, Ponies and camping, Oh my!

    http://www.midatlantichikes.com/mountrogersbp.htm This is a perfect three day hike. Great trip itenerary with good maps and instructions. This is the trip Dale described earlier.

  11. #11
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    You could also include the Bear Pen trail to add some distance. I had intended to do this but had to shorten the hike because I didn't start until late in the afternoon. I looked online for a good map but never found one. Finally did a map on Delorme topo which showed good trails. I could pull a map and post a link online if you want.

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  12. #12
    Registered User sevensixtwo187's Avatar
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    Thank you all very much. A map would be much appreciated.
    ____________________________________________
    An nescis, mi fili, quantilla sapientia mundus regatur?

  13. #13
    Registered User karo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sevensixtwo187 View Post
    Thank you all very much. A map would be much appreciated.
    Try this map of Mount Rogers, which is a detail map from the Nat Geo. Trails Illustrated map #786.

  14. #14
    Thru Hike Dreamer Extraordinaire
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    Default Mt. Rogers, Ponies and camping, Oh my!

    The link I gave has a good map as well...topo

  15. #15
    Registered User sevensixtwo187's Avatar
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    Thank you very much. I always find Trails Illustrated maps to be very handy.
    ____________________________________________
    An nescis, mi fili, quantilla sapientia mundus regatur?

  16. #16
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    Here is another link to a map. It is one posted online from my Delorme Topo software.

    http://mapshare.delorme.com/Consumer/V.aspx?p=bmg01q8r

    Dale

  17. #17
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    See where the AT crosses 603? There is a foot/horse trail not shown that runs back down to where the connector trail begins near Grindstone campground. You can park at Grindstone for something like $5 a night. I'll promise you that this hike is one of the best in the area. The views just mesmerized me at times...

    Dale

  18. #18
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    If you hike the horse trails & you'll have much better views & more consistant 360 degree view through the park (they can get a little roaky & mucky in parts though). I just came back from there a few weeks ago & didn't see any backpackers or horsemen. I went up the lewis fork hung @ the pine ridge trail, crossed at rohdo gap dropped down the crest to the VA highlands trail & up to Briar Ridge saddle. Fantastic Area where ever you head!! If you want to take in some of the AT & grab some alone time with your daughter, I would grab a shuttle out of Damascus, they can follow you & drop your car at Massie Gap (or possibly Elk Gardsens) then take you to Fox Creek, you willl have many options once you break out of the hardwoods at the top of Old Orchard to either stay on the AT or head right at the top out towards Rhodo gap, There are many phenominal areas to camp up there! Enjoy!
    Take Time to Watch the Trees Dance with The Wind........Then Join In........

  19. #19
    Registered User Pumba's Avatar
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    Are there any decent size towns where one can obtain, say, a sub sandwich anywhere close to the Grayson Highlands?
    -------------------------------------------
    ~Brian

    I don't know what lies around the bend, but I'm going to believe that the best does.
    -- L.M. Montgomery

  20. #20
    Thru Hike Dreamer Extraordinaire
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    Default Mt. Rogers, Ponies and camping, Oh my!

    Sparta, right on the way.

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