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  1. #1

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    Video: Virginia - 23-Mile Mt Rogers / Grayson Highlands Loop

    Spent 3 nights out doing a 23 mile loop around Mt Rogers and Grayson Highlands in southern Virginia that I usually do once a year. Got to the trailhead about 7pm on a Thursday night after cutting out of work a little early for the 1.5 mile hike to camp for the first night at the Old Orchard Shelter area. Wasn't completely dark when we set up, but dark enough to hit the sack once we had the hammocks hung. Made the climb up the northern side of Mt Rogers on our second day and hit the AT for about an 18 mile section of our loop. Still some thru hikers coming through that had been at trail days in Damascus the weekend before. I had figured that the bubble of hikers was probably gone or I would have left some trail magic at the trailhead. Oh well, maybe next year. Stayed at Thomas Knob our second night with great views over the valley looking south toward Damascus. Back on the AT nobo for day 3 for our 11 mile section through Grayson Highlands & the Lewis Fork Wilderness. Surprisingly weren't visited by the ponies at Thomas Knob as we slept Friday night, but went trough several groups and a few cows on Saturday. Stayed at Old Orchard again on Saturday night making for an easy (and downhill) 1.5 egress on Sunday morning back to the trailhead on 603. Overall, a little warm for my tastes (mid to high 70's during the day), but always a great loop.

    As far as gear, I wasn't trying to hit the UL mark on this trip, but did stay mid-range lightweight with a 15 pound base weight. I took my 1.6 Chameleon (not my lightest hammock, but plenty of comfort and features and has become my go to unless I really need to cut weight or if I'm not going far and want to carry a bridge) and a Superfly tarp. Only deployed the tarp one night (up on Thomas Knob) due to the potential of rain coming through during the night. Temperatures were low to mid 50's at night so a 40 degree HG econ set of quilts kept me nice and comfortable. Overall, good times out in the woods.



    https://www.alltrails.com/explore/ma...e-2020-b3d6e13

  2. #2
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    Looks like you had a fun trip on your video. Great setup on night 2 with that view. Tough to beat the Mt Rogers High Country, breathtaking scenery and ponies!

  3. #3
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    Pretty area. I like these loop trails with varied terrain. Nice video editing too. I’ve always wanted to try one with some drone footage since the perspective is so unique. But they’re illegal to fly in the National Parks and National Forest land so I stick to my camera or phone. 15lbs bw is pretty good in my book. I’m down to 16lbs with my hammock system, cook kit and other basics, but it crept up on the most recent trip with some added camera gear and bear canister.

  4. #4

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    Nice. Very nice. I’m eyeing a trip to that area in the next 8 weeks to escape the heat of central NC. Do you know your total vertical ascent? On the map, it looks a like a lot more up and down than the video suggests.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Layne View Post
    Looks like you had a fun trip on your video. Great setup on night 2 with that view. Tough to beat the Mt Rogers High Country, breathtaking scenery and ponies!
    It's a great area. I try to do a variation of this loop once a year.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Twistytee View Post
    Pretty area. I like these loop trails with varied terrain. Nice video editing too. I’ve always wanted to try one with some drone footage since the perspective is so unique. But they’re illegal to fly in the National Parks and National Forest land so I stick to my camera or phone. 15lbs bw is pretty good in my book. I’m down to 16lbs with my hammock system, cook kit and other basics, but it crept up on the most recent trip with some added camera gear and bear canister.
    Thanks. My videos are still a work in progress, but I think that they are getting better.

    I try not to carry the bear can unless I really have to. There are bear boxes all along the AT through Grayson Highlands, but I still prefer to hang my bag.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by SubaruWx View Post
    Nice. Very nice. I’m eyeing a trip to that area in the next 8 weeks to escape the heat of central NC. Do you know your total vertical ascent? On the map, it looks a like a lot more up and down than the video suggests.
    Thank you. The climb up Mt Rogers to Thomas Knob was pretty straightforward (1852' up), but going down through Grayson Highlands is more up and down than it looks. We dropped from 5486' down to 4050' at Old Orchard, but still had 1424' of vertical ascent. We averaged 2.6 mph (which is a little below my average), but I spend a lot of time in Linville Gorge and these miles aren't close to the pain you get there.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator TallPaul's Avatar
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    That looks like a great loop. I need to try starting from that northern trailhead sometime. How is the parking?

    Ok is it just me that sees the route makes a bird outline? I flipped the pic so its easier to see.


  9. #9
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    Great video!

    And I'm jealous because some friends and I had planned a similar loop there in early May but the forecast was horrible so we did a local trip instead. Of course we followed the weather to see if the dismal forecast came to be, and it did, so we did not regret our decision.

    Gonna go visit the ponies at some point, though!
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by TallPaul View Post
    That looks like a great loop. I need to try starting from that northern trailhead sometime. How is the parking?

    Ok is it just me that sees the route makes a bird outline? I flipped the pic so it’s easier to see.

    There is room for about a dozen or so cars at the AT & 603 trailhead. Never really had a problem parking there, but it has been getting busier (more people out since the pandemic and the backpacker lot at Grayson Highlands requires a reservation). I've done this loop both directions and starting at 3 different spots, but I like to plan my trips with an easy out on the last day. The mile and a half from Old Orchard back to the trailhead is all downhill as well.

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