Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
Yes
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Tucked away in the southwest corner of Virginia is 4,502 acres of rolling hills, windswept ridges, and dense forest that make up Grayson Highlands State Park. The park maintains more than 25 miles of hiking trails, as well as access to the Appalachian Trail and backpacking loops within Jefferson National Forest. It is a popular destination for hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, as well as campers.

One of the biggest attractions in Grayson Highlands State Park are the wild ponies that wander the balds, keeping the foliage trimmed and posing for photos. The ponies are actually feral as they are an introduced species. They are managed by a local nonprofit, which ensures that they get proper veterinary care annually. While petting or feeding the ponies is frowned upon, they are so used to hikers within the park that they rarely shy away from being pet, and they have even been known to raid backpacks that are left unattended.

The best place to see the ponies is on Wilburn Ridge, which you can access from the Massie Gap parking area. They also wander around on the Appalachian Trail, which runs right through the park. There are lots of short day hikes within Grayson Highlands for novice hikers, but you can also hike to Virginia's tallest peak, Mount Rogers, or embark on a multi-day backpacking trip.

Two picnic shelters are available to rent, and the picnic area includes an old homestead with a few buildings that you can tour. 

Hickory Ridge Campground

Hickory Ridge Campground includes primitive tent sites, RV/trailer sites with electric and water hookups, and four yurts, which must be reserved for two consecutive nights. A large bunkhouse, which sleeps 14, is also available. Hickory Ridge Campground has a small general store that sells basic provisions, ice, and firewood.

There is a separate horse camping area with full electric hookups and either open or covered stalls. There are 8 miles of trails within the park that are open to horses. All campsites come with a picnic table and grill and are suitable for a maximum of six people. 

The campground is very clean and well maintained, but the sites are close together and not very private. Backcountry camping is allowed in the nearby national forest, and many backpackers park in the overnight parking lot before heading into the backcountry for a more primitive camping experience.

Grayson Highlands State Park is a beautiful spot for hiking and backpacking, with far-reaching views, bird-watching opportunities, and even blueberries to forage while in season. It's definitely one of Virginia's most lovely state parks.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

State Park Day-Use Fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Hike with wild ponies. Many trails to choose from.

Cons

Can be busy. Weather is unpredictable.

Features

ADA accessible
General store
Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Wildlife
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Rental facilities
Shelters
Amphitheater
Big vistas
Horseback riding
Picnic tables
Wildflowers
Bird watching
Potable water
Covered picnic areas

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Central + Southern Virginia, Virginia
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