After searching for the Rhododendron trail head and failing, I started out on the Appalachian Spur trail. I was worried my search for wild ponies might be in vain. The path was rocky and there were rain clouds hovering above.
I heard about Grayson Highlands featuring amazing views and herds of wild ponies and immediately put it on my to do list. This was my third attempt to go there. Every time I tried it had rained or the temperature dropped below what I was comfortable with. Well it was calling for rain again and I decided I was going to go anyway.
The Rhododendron Trail is the most popular trail so I wanted to start with that one, but when I pulled into the parking lot, I couldn’t find it.
There were trail heads for several others though. I noticed the Appalachian Spur, Appalachian Trail, and Rhododendron trail were connected together to create a loop. So I set out on the Appalachian Spur.
It winded through ferns and shallow streams. The forest would then open up to views of the nearby mountain ranges.
I kept up a good pace hoping to beat out the rain but still being alert for ponies. It was really windy like at any moment it would start to pour. The wind felt nice but it was ominous.
When I came to the end of the Rhododendron trail. I had not been rained on but I had not seen a single pony. I open the gate to exit the trail, feeling a bit disappointed, then I saw him. By the parking lot, grazed a pony!
After feeling like I had taken enough pictures, I started trying to figure out where in the world this parking lot was incongruent to the one I had parked at. The pony actually started following me… I freaked out a little bit. It’s ridiculous, I know, what is the pony likely to do; come batter me to death with his hooves.
I managed to find my car and I didn’t get rained on or trampled to death. So three major pluses. I also got to see some pretty awesome views. It was my first time hiking there and I did see a pony so I assume it’s pretty easy to catch a view of one if you go.
Tips For Visiting Grayson Highlands
- I parked in the backpackers lot and hiked the Appalachian Spur to the Appalachian Trail, then hit the Rhododendron trail from there. If you just want to go on the Rhododendron trail then it would be easier to park off the side of the road at the Massie Gap parking area.
- Wear hiking shoes! The Appalachian Trail and the Appalachian Spur trail is super rocky!
- It cost me $6 to go into the park but it’s only $4 for VA residents.
- When I left the park I had NO cell service for like an hour! So make sure you know where you’re going or have a backup map.