Hiking Grayson Highlands State Park

Grayson Highlands State Park in VA is a place we’ve ridden by, and sometimes to, several times on the motos, and have said for years that we should visit to go camping and hiking. Its an incredibly beautiful place. So, we decided last week to take Friday off; we loaded up our stuff and the dog in the back of my car, and made the 2.5 hr drive Thursday afternoon.

Between a smaller hike Thursday evening, and exploring various trails all day Friday, we probably only hiked about 10 miles. We were really happy that Cody was able to keep up and enjoy himself. At 9.5 years old, he’s still really enjoying his hikes, as long as we take breaks, and avoid the strenuous trails with steep elevation gain.

Also, it turns out that Grayson Highlands State Park has “wild” ponies. Who knew? (Click the continue reading link just below this sentence to see pictures of the ponies!)

They don’t seem very wild to me, although we followed the requests not to feed or touch the ponies. The horses are ultimately fenced in, but they have a very large area to roam. They are considered wild because they aren’t especially looked after; there are about 150 of them in the park, and they find their own food, water, and shelter. More about the wild horses at Grayson Highlands here. (And yeah, obviously, I took a lot of pictures of the ponies).

Needless to say, the wild ponies were a highlight of the trip. The entire park is like hiking in a Disney movie, with endless furry woodland friends. We spotted a lot of wildlife. The trails themselves were wonderful and incredibly scenic, and we hiked part of a section of the AT (Appalachian Trail) that travels through the wild horse area of the park. We’ve toyed with the idea of overnight backpacking in the past, and Grayson Highlands is a popular starting point for some excellent backpacking trails that extend into the wilderness areas outside the state park. The day hike experience at Grayson definitely makes backpacking a serious temptation.

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