Wilburn Ridge and Massie Gap Loop

Mouth of Wilson, Virginia

based on 4 reviews



2.32 miles

Elevation Gain

318 ft

Route Type



Added by Brandon Dewey

Grayson Highland State Park is full of some amazing trails that lead hikers to some of the best views in Virginia, and hiking along Wilburn Ridge is one of my favorite hikes in the park and has some amazing 360 degrees views.

To reach the trail head, park in the Massie Gap Parking Lot.  This is the parking lot for most of the trails in the park, so it can fill up very quickly, but you are able to park along the side of the road.  Massie Gap as two parking areas: one intended for overnight hikers and one for day hikers.  Once parked, make your way over to the Rhododendron Trail Head.  If you park in the overnight parking lot, follow the left trail for 0.2 mile until you reach the Rhododendron Trail Head.  If you park in the day parking area, walk across the grass field to the Rhododendron Trail Head.  Once on the Rhododendron Trail, follow it up the mountain for 0.5 miles until you reach the Appalachian Trail (AT).  At 0.3 miles, the Rhododendron Trail meets the Horse Trail North; stay left at this junction.  The Rhododendron Trail is the steepest part of the loop, but because the trail snakes up the mountain, it not unmanageable. Right before you reach the AT, hikers will enter the highlands and have some great views. If you are in luck, you might see a wild pony.  Some of the ponies may come up to you looking for food, but please help keep the ponies wild and do not feed or pet them (Leave No Trace). 

At the junction of the AT, turn right and follow it north for 0.5 miles.  This section of the AT is called Wilburn Ridge.  It had a lot of rock piles for hikers to explore.  Also, if you like rock climbing or bouldering, there are a lot of great spots to climb along Wilburn Ridge.  There are three main rock piles spread out along the ridge, all of which offer outstanding 360 degree views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains. On clear days, hikers can see over 70 miles away.  I personally like the view from the third rock pile, and it usually isn’t as crowded as the first two. In fact, I often have the whole rock pile to myself.  The best view is to the East making this an ideal place to watch the sunrise beehive the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Anywhere along Wilburn Ridge is a great place to stop and eat lunch/snack while taking in the amazing views.  

Once you are done exploring Wilburn Ridge, hop back on the AT heading north until you reach the Appalachian Spur Trail.  Turn right on to the Appalachian Spur Trail, and follow it down the mountain for 0.8 miles until you reach the Massie Gap Overnight Parking Lot.  If you parked in the day parking lot, turn right and follow the trail for 0.2 miles, then walk back across the grass field to your vehicle, completing the 2.0 mile loop.

This is a great hike for the whole family; dogs on leashes are allowed on this trail.  If you have young children, this would also be a great hike from them.  My two sons loved exploring and climbing on the rocks, but the highlight of this trail was seeing the wild ponies. 

Read More

Download the Outbound mobile app

Find adventures and camping on the go, share photos, use GPX tracks, and download maps for offline use.

Get the app
Download GPX File


Rock Climbing
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly

Wilburn Ridge and Massie Gap Loop Reviews

Hiked to Wilson Ridge to see the ponies. We were luck enough to see one.

This is not an overly difficult hike, but the views from the top of the ridge make it 100x worth it. There are lots of rocks to climb over and explore once you’ve reached the top. You have 360 views from the top, which makes it a perfect place to watch the sun rise or set. The trail is easily accessible and well maintained.

The best place to see the ponies is on Wilburn Ridge! They are so fun to watch and to photograph. We stayed at Hickory Ridge Campground and did several trails during our visit, but this trail was by far the most memorable! The herd of Grayson Highlands Ponies is about 150 strong and they are charged with keeping the foliage trimmed along the balds and posing for photos.

Easy hike with beautiful views! The wild horses are also a major draw to this destination!

Leave No Trace

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


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

Mount Rogers Loop

Backpack the Grayson Highlands