Set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountain range, Smyth County is your basecamp for reaching the highest peaks in Virginia.
Day 1: Kick off your adventure from Chilhowie, VA with a scenic drive to Skulls Gap Overlook. This small overlook packs a punch, offering panoramic views to the delight of wildlife watchers. Mountain bikers and hiking enthusiasts will love the extensive Iron Mountain Trail, accessed from this site. Continue the fun back in Chilhowie in their newly restored historic district and enjoy the quirky, independent shops.
Day 2: Break in those hiking boots with an exhilarating and challenging hike to Molly’s Knob, located in Hungry Mother State Park. The reward is worth the altitude climb, with nearly 1000 feet of elevation gain on this 1.6 mile hike to the top. You’ll be mesmerized by the mountain views at the summit, and get the chance for a respite on the two benches welcoming hikers who met the challenge. Afterwards, make your way to downtown Marion for dinner at one of many independent eateries.
Day 3: Head over to Saltville to explore the Well Fields Recreation Area, the only inland saline marshes in Virginia. Fuel up with a hotdog at Buck’s Drive In before learning how the well fields came to exist at exhibits in the Museum of the Middle Appalachians. Walk a mile on the Salt Trail, a converted rail-trail that begins in the heart of downtown Saltville.
Day 4: Set your sights on the highest peak in Virginia! At 5,728 ft above sea level, Mount Rogers stands as the tallest peak in Virginia. Achieve your summit-bagging quest in Grayson Highlands State Park where you’ll start your hike on the Massie Gap trail. The hike to the top will lead you through mountain meadows with roaming, wild ponies as well as rocky outcroppings and spacious highland balds with sweeping views. This will be an all-day adventure, so pack a picnic lunch from one of Smyth County’s great local restaurants.
Bonus: Check off Virginia’s second highest peak on the same trip, with a visit to Whitetop Mountain!
Feature photo: Near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, VirginiaÍs two highest mountains, enjoy scenic views of alpine-like peaks, hike on trails leading to waterfalls and overlooks, designated camping areas, and a visitor center.
Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia.org