One of my top three favorite places to go hiking is Mt. Rogers. The gorgeous location is situated within George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Marion, Virginia. Though this piece will focus on hiking, it’s important to note that the park allows hunting, fishing, and mountain biking in addition to having horse trails for the public to use. The trails at Mt. Rogers each have specific designations and the park has routes for all levels of hikers, so there’s no need to worry about whether or not there’s something for you. There is!
Two of the less strenuous trails include Hale Lake Trail and Lover’s Leap Trail. Hale Lake Trail circles the lake and can be perfect for a peaceful stroll. The 0.7 mile trail is only open to foot traffic (different trails in the park can be shared by horses, bicycles, or motorcycles) so there’s no need to worry about stepping in horse droppings or being run over by a bike. And the lake is open to fishing so there’s something to appeal to a large number of people. Lover’s Leap is also only open to foot traffic, so the same benefits apply to this hike as well. It’s also another relatively short hike at 0.5 miles, though doing this and the Hale Lake Trail is an adequate distance for many people. The benefits of Lover’s Leap are that it’s used less heavily than Hale Lake and there’s a fantastic view on Whitetop Mountain.
Three great hikes that are also for foot traffic only and are a bit more challenging are Little Wilson Trail, Pine Mountain Trail, and Slabtown Trail. The last of these is the longest of the three. Little Wilson is a 1.6 mile hike that is a little steeper in some places than the two hikes mentioned above, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s out of the way so it’s only lightly used. This also has fishing access for those who enjoy both activities and want a trip that combines them. Pine Mountain trail, another medium hike, is 1.9 miles and used to be part of the Appalachian Trail that goes from Maine to Georgia. Slabtown, 2.1 miles, is a loop that comes off of the AT and it a pretty straightforward hike.
Two of the more difficult treks here are Willburn Ridge and Mount Rogers Trail. Willburn Ridge is roughly one mile long but it’s rocky and has gorgeous views at the top so people who like difficult hikes will still enjoy this. The rocky nature of the trail makes it a lot more fun than most others. Mt. Rodgers Trail is four miles long, which makes it a solid trip for people who enjoy a good hike, but for that reason it’s also very busy. It’s worth it in the long run because there are other reasons it’s popular. A couple times I’ve seen a pack of wild ponies. During my first sighting, a guy gave me some extra carrots he brought and the ponies ate them right out of my hand! It was an amazing experience! So yes, this is my favorite trail by far. Oh, and these two trails are also only open to hikers (my preference, as you can probably tell).
So go do some hiking in Marion and don’t forget your water!