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Mount Rogers Loop

Mouth of Wilson, Virginia

based on 3 reviews



15.6 miles

Elevation Gain

1079 ft

Route Type



Added by John Sides

Known for its grassy balds that offer sweeping views of the Virginia highlands, wild ponies that roam the area, and being the highest point in Virginia, Mount Rogers is one of the most uniquely beautiful sections of the AT. Numerous trails allow for a variety of multi-day backpacking options.

For an awesome 2-3 day trip, start hiking at the Massie Gap trailhead, which can be reached from Grayson Highlands State Park. Take the Rhododendron Trail up the ridge to connect with the AT, keeping an eye out for wild ponies in the Massie Gap area as they like to hang out here. Some of these ponies may approach close enough to get a great photo, but please help keep them wild by resisting the urge to touch or feed them. Follow the AT up Wilburn Ridge, which includes a section of trail where you get to scramble up several rocky outcroppings. At the highest point of Wilburn Ridge, you’ll be rewarded with impressive 360-degree views of the entire area.

To reach the summit of Mount Rogers, continue on the AT past the Thomas Knob shelter and hike about half a mile through a dense forest covered in moss and evergreens. At 5,729 ft the summit is the highest point in Virginia. Head back down the mountain, claim a campsite with a view near Thomas Knob shelter (the shelter is available on a first come first served basis but priority goes to thru hikers) and watch the sunset across the valley. There’s a water source just off the ridge from the shelter.

On the next day, backtrack for a mile on the AT and then continue straight onto Pine Mountain trail until you leave the Lewis Fork Wilderness and reconnect with the AT southbound. Pine Mountain trail keeps you on the ridge and passes through loads of rhododendron and a combination of fields and forest. Stay straight on the AT through Scales (intersection of 5 different trails so make sure you take the one you’re intending to!), and hike up and across wide open balds with great views back towards Wilburn Ridge and Mount Rogers. Because it’s so exposed this section of trail can get very windy. For a long day, follow the AT all the way back towards Wilburn Ridge and descend to Massie Gap via Appalachian Spur Trail or the Rhododendron Trail. For a more leisurely second day, stop and camp near Wise shelter (water source nearby) and leave the remaining section for the next morning.


Because it’s the highest mountain around, Mount Rogers can experience dramatic weather changes quickly year round, including harsh winter conditions from late Fall to early Spring. Know the forecast for the peak and surrounding areas before your trip and be prepared for changing weather.

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking

Mount Rogers Loop Reviews

This is an easygoing loop that has pretty consistent views throughout the hike. The abundance of animals/wildlife also make it a trip to remember. We had a few ponies stumble by our tent in the early morning hours... better than a bear!

I backpacked this loop over 4th of July weekend. There was a lot of people but we found a nice campsite near Thomas Knob shelter that provided some space from the trail and hikers. The views are beautiful and the wildlife is awesome!!! We had wild ponies walk through our camp munchin' on grass and saying hi! About every single day a small pack of ponies would come by. There were bulls as well along the trail. Plenty of beautiful birds as well. Although it was stormy one night while we were up there, the rest of the time was beautiful weather in the 60s - which is amazing for July compared to Georgia weather. I definitely recommend. I also definitely recommend NOT to feed the wild animals or leave food or food trash to where they could consume it. But overall, definitely recommend. Also recommend going during the fall. The colors are amazing!

This is a wonderful backpacking trip espeically if you're with people who are backpacking for the first time! Easy route with endless views and the wild ponies make it an especially unique experience. However, if you hike out late on a weekend, be prepare for crowded parking lots and not finding a great campsite. I advise leaving early!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Wilburn Ridge and Massie Gap Loop

Twin Pinnacles via Big Pinnacles Trail

Hike and Fish Cabin Creek Trail

Rhododendron Trail to Rock Croppings

Photograph Wild Horses at Grayson Highlands State Park

Backpack the Grayson Highlands