Monday, August 4, 2014

Grayson Highlands - Mountain Paradise

There is no doubt in my mind.  Grayson Highlands is a beautiful place and well worth a visit.  We only spent 2.5 hours there including a picnic lunch.  I would spend twice that so that you could work in a hike in the meadows and ridges.  However, our visit there was wonderful and the first chapter of a 7 hour day spent exploring the area to the south and south west of Marion.

Grayson Highlands State Park was created in 1965 with significant local support.  It consists of 4,822 acres of mountain land within Jefferson National Forest and bordering Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.  The park offers some awesome hiking to nearby Mount Rodgers and Whitetop Mountain, waterfalls and overlooks; access to the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail; camping, wildlife viewing and picnicking.

On the drive up to the Visitor Center, we stopped at Sugarlands Overlook which offers some fantastic views worth photographing.  The overlook is named for the large number of Sugar Maple trees located there.  The sap of the trees can be boiled down to produce Maple Syrup.

Click on my photos below to see them in high resolution on Flickr.  You can view the photos in high resolution by clicking here!

High Rock on Buck Mountain from Sugarlands Overlook

Sugarlands Overlook

Tucker Road from Sugarlands Overlook

Mountain View from Sugarlands Overlook

We then continued up to the Visitor Center located near the summit of Haw Orchard Mountain at over 5,000 feet.  The center offers interesting exhibits, gift shop, information and rest rooms.  Across from the center is a trail to Massey Gap where several other trails intersect.  We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch, shot some more photos at a nearby overlook and headed back on the road.

Picnic area overlook

Haw Orchard Lane from picnic area overlook 

Haw Orchard Baptist Church & Cemetery from picnic area overlook

You can view the entire set in high resolution by clicking here!

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