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The Appalachian Trail (AT) passes near the tallest mountains in the state. It's hard to top Mount Rogers National Recreation Area! Close to the top of Mount Rogers, wild ponies graze in the high country. There are steep ascents up Iron Mountain, past small waterfalls and rhododendron.
Mount Rogers Wild Pony
When you finish this hike, you wish it could go on. You will have great memories of wide open sky, jagged rock outcrops, and a cool dip below the falls on Comers Creek. The Damascus area has scenery unlike any you've seen in other parts of Virginia. Herds of wild horses roam expansive mountain meadows in Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.
The tree capped Mount Rogers at 5,729 feet, Virginia's tallest peak, has a strong spruce fir scent lingering around. Mushrooms and wild berries are found on Iron Mountain. Rhododendron's blooms seem ever present in late spring, early summer. Turks cap lily is seen spring through fall. Using trails and abandoned roads, trek along rocky peaks, cliffs, and steep ridges, through deep valleys, and across high meadows.
Mount Rogers is the highest mountain in Virginia. While quite a few mountains in the Appalachians outside of Virginia are higher, Mount Rogers can claim to be the highest east of South Dakota that lacks a road to its summit. The summit is covered by a thick spruce fir forest and offers no viewpoint, but the trails to the summit pass through open meadows and cross bald ridgetops with great vistas.
Mount Rogers is the showcase of a National Recreation Area. The summit is reached by a 0.5 mile trail off of the Appalachian Trail. The trailheads are at Massie Gap in Grayson Highlands State Park and at Elk Garden on Virginia Secondary Route 600.
Those wanting solitude should use the area on weekdays or during low use seasons. The following trails are heavily used: Appalachian Trail, Mount Rogers Trail, Virginia Highlands Trail, and the Mount Rogers Spur Trail.
Wild ponies can be seen roaming the open crest zone. Rhododendron bloom in June.
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