When you think of Highlands, you may automatically conjure images of the wild Scottish countryside, but the eastern U.S. has its own Highlands right in eastern Virginia. Established in 1965, and located within the Jefferson National Forest, Grayson Highlands State Park is 4,500 acres of forested hills, mountain meadows (balds), and bubbling trout streams surrounded by some of the areas highest peaks. Herds of wild ponies and gobs of summer blueberries only add to the area’s wilderness character. And with more than 25 miles of multiuse trails in the park—including several miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail—you don’t have to hop an international flight to go roaming the wild high country.
Located about 25 miles west of Independence, off U.S. Highway 58, Grayson Hills State Park provides two seasonal campgrounds for tent, RV and horse campers. Hickory Ridge Campground offers 65 wooded tent and RV sites, four yurts, and a group tent site; Chestnut Hollow Horse Camp has 24 sites. All campsites are equipped with picnic tables and fire pits. RV and horse sites have water and electrical hookups, and horse sites have access to stables. There are also bathhouses with showers, drinking water, visitor center, playground, picnic areas, and a small store; nature and outdoors programs are offered at the park amphitheater. Pets are permitted in the park, but require a small fee. Campsite rates range from $15–$40/night; horse stalls are $8–$15/night.
You don’t have to be an avid hiker to enjoy the Virginia high country at Grayson Hills. Several shorter walking paths visit various viewpoints, meadows, and shady, rhododendron-filled woods. The park’s numerous streams provide plenty of opportunities to fish for brook and rainbow trout, and, if the water is high, you can take a guided canoe paddle up the New River. Bouldering is also a popular activity in the park for challenging gravity. There are more than 700 named routes among the park’s sprawling boulder fields and rock outcrops, with challenges for all skill levels. For enjoying the local music, food and country community, don’t miss the park’s Wayne Henderson Festival in June, or the Grayson Highlands Fall Festival in September.
very nice bathroom facilities, the women’s shower was clean and actually hot! also two big sinks for laundry/ dishes. Campsite had a nice table, metal hook, and fire ring. 4 stars only because the campsites are a little pricey for out of state, and very close together. wild ponies at this park, first sighting only a 5 minute walk from our campsite!
Jump on the AT or any number of other trails for a multi day or just a simple day hike.
The wild ponies make this area so special and worth the drive.
Very clean, well kept and the hosts are terrific.
Lot s of wildlife! We camped at an equestrian campgrounds, chestnut ridge perhaps? Saw a Family of black bear about a mile from camp then a bobcat in camp later that day! Great facilities and located very close to Wilbur ridge where the wild ponies are! The AT is very close and waterfall hikes can be accessed from camp.also lots of great bouldering in the area
I camped there over a weekend with a group of friends and our dogs. The campground is really beautiful and well taken care off. Hiking trails are nearby. There are even wild ponies in the campground. Everybody was very helpful and the scenery is just stunning. We would definitely camp here again.
Section hiked the AT through this are with my best friend and our 3 sons. Amazing views & the boys had a blast. Especially with the wild ponies.
Nice little campground with loads of good trails all through the park. Creeks to explore, high ridges with panoramic views, the Appalachian Trail crosses through the park and there are not so wild ponies who will come check you out. Wild blueberries and blackberries in August.
this is the place for you if you want to run around in an open field
Couldnt have asked for a better birthday gift. The ponies were awesome and the hike was even better. We stayed on the campgrounds at night and we were able to watch a beautiful sunrise while making breakfast. Definitely have plans to go back in the near future.
I've been here in each season, my favorites being fall and winter. There's a cool large festival in the fall with tons of local vendors and the best apple butter any where. In the winter, it is definitely COLD but absolutely stunning with snow falling. There are 96 campsites available, some with hookups and some without.
The Appalachian Trail can be easily accessed here and there are several backcountry camping options along the trail. Sites in the main park area have gravel pads, picnic tables, fire rings and some have posts for lanterns as well.
As other photos suggest, there are wild ponies here (notice the adjective wild) that are not intimidated by people. Do everyone a favor and keep your distance, please. I experienced a negative interaction with the ponies here that resulted in several backpacks being chewed to bits. The photos of the ponies posted in this review were taken with a zoom lens. This is their home and they should be respected and treated just as you would a bear.
This place is by far the windiest place I've ever camped in. We couldn't get a proper fire started due to the wind! It was blowing up all over the trails at some points! But it's all worth it. The views are amazing! The ponies are great, they're come right up to you and check you out. There isn't many places to get water so come prepared with enough. The windchill was a serious issue for some in our group so bring lots of layers and gloves. I'll be going back, hopefully when it's a little warmer!
PS tons of pony poop everywhere. I would imagine it would be a real bummer if you step in it. Avoid at all costs.