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  1. #1
    Senior Member bwg's Avatar
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    Grayson Highlands/ Mt Rogers Area Hanging Question

    Hi all --

    Some friends and I are planning to backpack in the Grayson Highlands-Mt Rogers area later this spring. None of us are familiar with this area and we were wondering about hammock hanging spots for about 10 people.

    Attached is an image showing the route we may take in blue with mile markers. Other options are to cut it short using the red and green routes. We initially planned to camp at mile marker 7 on this image, and then near the shelter near Mt. Rogers. The problem is that we don't know whether there are good hanging spots at these locations.

    Can any of you familiar with this area recommend good hanging spots using the routes marked on the attached map? I've also included a link to a Google drawing below that can be edited if you would like to mark spots with an X or something.

    https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1...it?usp=sharing

    Also, if you have suggestions for different routes or places worth visiting that we don't have on our routes, please let us know.

    Thanks
    Bryan
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    10 people is a lot but I can think of a few places for sure.

    When you say mile 7, I assume you mean going counter clockwise. That would put you on the AT in between the Pine/Crest intersection and Scales. I only remember seeing a couple flat spots on the side of the hill here you could put a single tent in and that's it. My personal preference would be to do the trip clockwise.


    There are established campsites along the AT around Thomas Knob (the shelter close to the Mt. Rogers summit trail) but they are far better suited for tents. The trees in that section tend to be fir trees which would need some serious pruning in order for you to reach the trunk.

    If you aren't aware, the summit is covered in trees as well so you can bag the peak (I did) but there are no views up there. Really its only a half our detour tops so why not?

    There is no camping in Deep Gap (36.658634, -81.557691) and you'll see wood signs on the trail designating the 'no camp' zone. If you walk through and past this area heading southbound on the AT, you'll see a side trail directly ahead as the AT turns to the right. This trail goes up a short rise and there's a very nice spot there. I put 5 people there a few weeks ago but the woods are fairly open and the terrain is nice and flat along the top of the ridge here so you could keep walking back into the woods and find plenty of room to hang. Its obviously a popular spot as we noticed TONS of old bear bag rope caught up in the trees. The main area is grassy with an established fire ring but there are other rings under the leaf litter further back in the woods so if the site is taken, just move past them into the woods.

    Back in the 'no camp zone' the VA Highlands horse trail parallels the AT and comes within maybe ~50ft of it. There's a cow size boulder and an old fire ring here at a spur trail that links to two trails. If you follow it from the AT across the horse trail it will have blue blazes and go downhill a good little ways over maybe a 10th of a mile. There's a pipe coming out the hillside here with a ton of water pouring through it.

    We got from the Massie gap parking to the Deep Gap site in around 2-2.5 hours but it will depend on exactly how you climb Wilburn Ridge and a few other options.

    Our day one trace is here if you want to see it. I didn't walk to the water source that day so its not on there.

    If you want to hike another half hour past that then we noticed the area along Elk Ridge in the general area of 36.678078, -81.533175 was perfect. The area is very flat, very open and looked like you could probably put dozens upon dozens of people out there. The Mt. Rogers Trail sees far less people than the AT. There are no official water sources shown on the map, but there are 3-4 good size streams coming down the side of the mountain you cross between leaving the AT at Deep Gap and getting out on Elk Ridge, any of them would be fine if you filter. If you go this way it will be fairly steep on both sides of the trail till you finally get out on the ridge and then it will look like you'll in a lowland forest all the sudden.

    Most of Pine Mountain (the green trail on your image) has campsites along it. We camped at 36.667495, -81.511769 but I'm not sure you'd find space for 10 people unless some of them are in tents. I've got nothing specific I can point you towards in the area around Stone Mountain. There's a gorgeous campsite at about 36.655084, -81.493620 but its only got a few trees.

    I don't know, but I suspect the small knob at 36.649913, -81.478044 may be a good place to look, but perhaps not for 10 people, I haven't been past there at all.

  3. #3
    Senior Member bwg's Avatar
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    Gqgeek81 -- thank you for your helpful reply. Gives us some things to consider.

    Bryan

  4. #4
    wa4chq's Avatar
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    I just returned from there today. My maps in the car so will give better info on a location I found twenty minutes from water, just off of the Crest Trail. Plenty of trees. You may not find perfect trees for the group to be all close together but it may be just what you're looking for.
    crest.jpg
    Where the good water is (check mark), the site I stayed at along the Crest trail is about 20 minutes away.....the sign for water (with slash mark...couldn't find water at this spot along the Crest tr.) is about 5 minutes beyond. So, if you fill up your water bottles and hike to the next water sign, you've gone too far..... the site is on the right hand side of the trail. There is a slight slope heading down thru the trees....further down it starts to slope more. I stayed between the trail and the steeper slope. But, I didn't know it until later, down the steeper slope area it levels out and lots of trees for hanging there too.....
    ....the white trail between 19 and 20 is the Crest Tr......going from Massie Gap cw ....
    Last edited by wa4chq; 05-18-2015 at 12:34.
    Sailing, ham radio (qrp), linux, working on hammocking...
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  5. #5
    Senior Member bwg's Avatar
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    Hi wa4chq -- thanks for the helpful image and description!
    Bryan
    Last edited by bwg; 05-18-2015 at 23:00.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by wa4chq View Post
    I just returned from there today. My maps in the car so will give better info on a location I found twenty minutes from water, just off of the Crest Trail. Plenty of trees. You may not find perfect trees for the group to be all close together but it may be just what you're looking for.
    crest.jpg
    Where the good water is (check mark), the site I stayed at along the Crest trail is about 20 minutes away.....the sign for water (with slash mark...couldn't find water at this spot along the Crest tr.) is about 5 minutes beyond. So, if you fill up your water bottles and hike to the next water sign, you've gone too far..... the site is on the right hand side of the trail. There is a slight slope heading down thru the trees....further down it starts to slope more. I stayed between the trail and the steeper slope. But, I didn't know it until later, down the steeper slope area it levels out and lots of trees for hanging there too.....
    ....the white trail between 19 and 20 is the Crest Tr......going from Massie Gap cw ....
    The sign for water on Crest is confusing. There's a mud puddle at one of the camp sites a few hundred feet away from the sign (towards Wilburn Ridge) that might be what the sign is pointing to.

    On the other hand, there's a very official corral with a spring located at 36.668696, -81.511414 visible on the satellite which the sign is fairly close to but its certainly not pointing you towards.

    The ridge between Big Wilson Creek and the VA highlands horse trail near here looks interesting to explore. I'm guessing there's some nice sites down in there.

  7. #7
    wa4chq's Avatar
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    There were two signs for water that are shown on the map, but I only found water at the site with the check mark on the pic I uploaded. Easy to find and is fenced in like gqgeek mentions.
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  8. #8
    Both are fenced in depending on what we're talking about. There's two corrals and the mud puddle. I'm about 98% positive the confusing sign is located at 36.666797, -81.512510
    If you pull this up in Google you can see the main Crest trail curving up away on the satellite photo and a smaller trail branches of to the left and down a hair. This trail goes past several small campsites and somewhere around 36.665232, -81.513527 is a mud puddle that people clearly use as a spring but there's no protection from wildlife using it and I've seen it dried up even with the other water sources are flowing fine. The sign seems to point to this but I have a hard time thinking this is what the park service intended. Contrast the sign location to the corral I mentioned above at 36.668696, -81.511414 and you can see its not that far away. I measure ~800 feet.

    The check mark location on the picture in between Wilburn ridge and Cabin ridge can be seen at 36.654116, -81.523738 and has the classic Grayson corral around it. This forms the upper most beginnings of Cabin Creek if I'm not mistaken. I believe the sign associated with this spring is at 36.655046, -81.523618 along the Rhododendron gap trail just before it ends at Crest.


    Speaking of this area. If you're coming from Massie Gap, its an easier climb to take the Rhododenderon Gap trail and snake your way up the sides of the ridge rather than to use the AT or the even harder Wilburn Ridge trail. When you finally reach the end of Rhodo gap trail where it runs into Crest (36.655258, -81.523855) and look at your map, it appears that to reach the AT you need to turn to the right and head towards the major intersection at 36.658005, -81.522216 and then turn left on the AT. Simply walk directly across Crest and keep moving uphill. There's lots of campsites like the fire ring you can see at 36.655741, -81.524658 and you'll hit the AT in just a few hundred feet from crossing Crest without detouring over to the top of the ridge for no reason. There are so many campsites its not even a bushwhack.


    One other thing I'll mention while we're talking about water. The spring on the Scales Trail not far from Scales flows fine and I've used it on many occasions, but that water taste pretty bad. You can't tell if you cook with it, but if you're going to drink it, you might want some drink mix or a carbon filter for it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member bwg's Avatar
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    Update -- we backpacked in the Grayson Highlands/Mr Rogers area last weekend. We found two excellent hanging spots. Both are marked on the map attached. First night was on the crest near the water source (just north by about 50 yards of our camping spot for night 1), and the second was just north of Wise Shelter. About 75 yards from our camping spot on the second night is a creek, and immediately across that creek are several meadows surrounded by hardwoods. Beautiful camping and hanging spots. We estimate well over 100 hammocks could hang in that area.

    Bryan

    P.S. While the hanging spot for us on night 1 on the crest was excellent, there are many landmines there placed by ponies and cows. Very nasty after a rain.

    GraysonHighlands-postmap.jpg
    hangspot1.jpg
    hangspot2.jpg

  10. #10
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    Just got back from a month long hike on the Virginia AT from damascus to lamberts meadow shelter. There were only 2 of us and we had a hard time finding suitable hang spots once we got north of Thomas knob shelter/mt Rogers. Finding spots for ten will be tricky. Good luck!

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