Forum Index » Pre-Trip Planning » Tips for Grayson Highlands with kids in early June?


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Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Luke's TR / fees? on 03/02/2013 09:04:48 MST Print View

Your trip didn't seem too rough, just cut too close re: food/water. My son could do the trail though it would take us much longer. I don't care for long walks through woods when scenic views can be had though so I may save that for myself later (or do something like the 100 mile version).

Your comment on only having a few granola bars for the day made me chuckle. During my Maroon Bells trip, I'd started at Snowmass Lake, over Trail Rider Pass and over Halsey Pass and when I made camp that night realized I'd only eaten 2 power bars and a piece of jerky the whole day.

I assume you don't need a permit for this area. Are there entry fees if you use a SP trailhead?

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Re: Luke's TR / fees? on 03/02/2013 12:22:16 MST Print View

If you park at Massey Gap or in Grayson Highlands State Park, it is a $5 per day parking fee.

Brad Fisher
(wufpackfn)

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: Trails Illustrated and Map Errors on 03/02/2013 14:31:14 MST Print View

The 40 miles where for the one I did, not sure what the mileage was for your loop.

Agree with Luke the hike up Whitetop would be pretty tough and I wouldn't take a 6 year old on that section. As Luke mentioned focus on the high country area we discussed. Plenty to do in the area without going to Iron Mtn Trail, Whitetop, etc. I just mentioned for information purposes only.

I would suggest planning your trip with what you think the kids can do. Then look at alternatives to shorter/lengthen the day. Most places you don't have this option (ie Smokies because the trails are very spread out), but Grayson/Mt Rogers trail network allows changing your plans on the fly. I rarely preplan trips in this area any more. Just park at Massie Gap backpacking lot and start hiking.

Brad Rogers, mentioned fee to park. I think it is 5 on weekends and 3 during the week. Grayson Highland website will tell you.

Brad.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: TH security on 603? on 03/04/2013 20:43:16 MST Print View

midatlantichikes.com indicates the 603 THs have a fair number of breakins. Is that what you hear? Maybe I should go ahead and park at Grindstone or the SP.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
603 Security and the best option on 03/04/2013 21:35:32 MST Print View

I've heard of break ins at Elk Gardens but I don't know about other areas. I believe both the SP and Grindstone are the most secure. I know people have started from their for that reason.

The more I think about it the more I like the following idea. I really don't think you want to average 10 miles a day with a 6 yr. old. Grayson has some rough trails and you want time to climb on rocks, chase ponies and spell the flowers.

Here is my favorite idea starting from the State Park

Day 1 - From the State Park hike south on AT to the general area of Thomas Knob Shelter and camp with ponies and amazing views.

Day 2 - Backtrack north on AT to Rhododendron Gap and take a left on the Crest Trail going north over Pine Mtn. More ponies and great views. Get water at the springs on Pine Mtn. and dry camp at the spot Brad mentioned above Scales (the one with the picture of a flat meadow).

Day 3 Option A - If things are going well continue to Scales and follow the AT south back to the State Park. There will be decent views from Stone Mtn. and you'll end the trip back on the awesome Wilburn Ridge.

Day 3 Option B - If you are tired out go to Scales and take the VA Horse Trail instead of the AT and head back to the State Park TH. You have a shorter trip but still have great scenery.

Trip Extension - If you need to add mileage take Trail 4524/First Peak Trail over First, Second and Third Peaks, this is basically an extension of the loop.

I like this idea because it saves your bail out option for last so if you do shorten the trip you've still seen plenty of great scenery.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: 603 Security and the best option on 03/05/2013 06:36:55 MST Print View

> I've heard of break ins at Elk Gardens but I don't know about other areas. I believe both the SP and Grindstone are the most secure. I know people have started from their for that reason.

The Grindstone people must pay the local juveniles to pad their revenue. LOL

> The more I think about it the more I like the following idea. I really don't think you want to average 10 miles a day with a 6 yr. old. Grayson has some rough trails and you want time to climb on rocks, chase ponies and spell the flowers.

I wouldn't avg 10 mpd with him, that was the max I would normally consider. I assume you can camp pretty much anywhere rather than only in designated spots (except within the SP most likely). But I like your idea of being able to bail a day early if needed. I try to get the tougher stuff out of the way first.

His trip with me last summer, we did a loop in the Smokies out of Big Creek. Getting to 37 was easy. Then we went up the closed Gunter Fork trail. Since it had been closed for a while it was pretty overgrown in spots so it took us quite a while (< 1 mph), but he kept plugging away. After staying at the shelter, it was just "little" ups and downs (much of it level) to Mt Sterling and then all downhill. That was his 12.2 mile day. His normal avg speed is only 1.2 mph and we didn't exceed that really going downhill. We took many short breaks, too. He was motivated to get to grandparents, so we didn't stay at Mt Sterling. That will be the case this time also, but I'm not telling him that. ;)

I assume you were kidding about chasing the ponies, but I'm sure my son will try. :) Are they ever aggressive?

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Massie Gap on 03/05/2013 07:53:01 MST Print View

Parking at the overnight lot in Massie Gap is not $5 but $2 Mon-Thur and $3 Fri-Sun. Plus, you can park in a secure gated lot for free at the Mt Rogers NRA headquarters located about 30 miles north on Hiway 16. The AT goes right thru the parking lot and it's a great place to leave a car is you don't mind hiking 30 miles in to Wilburn Ridge and 30 miles back.

Chris Chatman
(ChrisChatman) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Can I get a copy of that map? on 03/13/2013 11:16:07 MDT Print View

@Luke Any chance you could e-mail me a high-res copy of the map/route you created above? Went to e-mail you but it looks like you don't have an e-mail address on your BPL account. My e-mail is chris underscore chatman at yahoo dot com.

Thanks!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Can I get a copy of that map on 03/13/2013 11:41:18 MDT Print View

I may have to recreate them but I'll work on it Chris. These maps are okay but I highly recommend the more detail Trails Illustrated map of Mt. Rogers.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Can I get a copy of that map? on 03/13/2013 11:52:53 MDT Print View

I had found this one in my searching, which seems to be an excerpt of the TI version, that barely covers everything in those Luke presented (I think).

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Can I get a copy of the map on 03/13/2013 12:31:40 MDT Print View

Chris and Ray I sent you both a copies of the three main routes discussed. The map Ray found is part of the TI map. It is missing the last bit of the AT to Elk Garden and the option extension to the loop. Otherwise I think it shows evertyhing.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Can I get a copy of that map? on 03/13/2013 12:45:56 MDT Print View

Thanks, Luke.

Chris, what dates are you looking at going? I'm guessing June 10-13 for us. I'm sure my son would love to meet up with some other boys while there.

Chris Chatman
(ChrisChatman) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Re: Can I get a copy of that map? on 03/14/2013 07:29:10 MDT Print View

Michael,

Right now I'm probably targeting 6/7-6/9 (Fri-Sun). Their last day of school is 6/6 and I'm targeting the weekend because we're doing a 2 week road-trip to hit National Parks in the Southwest so I'm trying to minimize my time away from work. I'll hop on this thread as we get closer to June and confirm dates.

Chris

Edited by ChrisChatman on 03/14/2013 07:42:24 MDT.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Re: Can I get a copy of that map? on 03/14/2013 10:02:56 MDT Print View

How ironic. I'm doing this trip with my youngest (and drop him off at my folks) and then will be doing a 3+ week road trip with his older brother to hit NPs in the SW. We are starting at Arches and finish at Yosemite - technically Great Basin, but that's just camping a night on the long drive home.

Chris Chatman
(ChrisChatman) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Wow on 03/14/2013 14:21:13 MDT Print View

Wow, that is ironic. We're starting with a visit with some friends in Phoenix, hitting Grand Canyon, and then driving down into Southern CA and working out way north. I haven't mapped out what we're doing yet other than we're starting in Phoenix and then flying home from San Francisco a couple weeks later.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Wow on 03/14/2013 14:53:21 MDT Print View

Hope you don't have any trouble getting permits or reservations. The only one I have left to get is Zion Narrows. Our rough itinerary

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Grayson Highlands and a shortcut on 03/15/2013 14:16:49 MDT Print View

I was just up at Grayson Highlands with my brother. Lots of snow right now, it felt more like Colorado in the shoulder seasons.

I don't know if this is useful to anyone but the AT and the Crest Trail pass very close to each other on Pine Mtn. Officially there is no connecting trail but you can easily cut across the meadow to connect the two. From the Crest Trail look for a gate on the North/West side of the meadow. That is where the AT heads down. Its a nice shortcut if you want to us the AT to access the high country.

Paul Croxton
(Croxton99) - F
Grayson on 06/20/2013 18:16:44 MDT Print View

Just dropping in to say thanks for the details on Grayson.. I got up there this past weekend. I put a short video of my trip in the Trip Report section.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Grayson on 06/22/2013 15:15:55 MDT Print View

I did a long video of our trip for anyone who cares.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Nice Video on 06/22/2013 18:38:47 MDT Print View

Nice video Ray! Was that Massie Gap where you started? Its fun to see all the places I've been on your video. To bad it was overcast. We had one trip like that where it was so cloudy we could not see much. At one point the clouds broke and there was a nice view. I reached for my camera and then the clouds blew over. Then it opened up, and then it closed before I could snap a picture (it was a windy day).