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Lots of clear field balds to walk through. The main trail is easy but the bouldering further up is challenging and exhilarating! Great for any hiking experience level. And wild ponies are everywhere! Be wary of the wind in the winter! My camera case almost blew away. Secure your items while you're there!
So… I was planning on camping here in Grayson Highlands and even had a reservation, but when we arrived there was an emergency within the park and we could no longer stay there, but we got fully reimbursed! The rangers were so nice!!! ALthough that was a shame we took a ride around the park and LOVED IT. I will for sure be returning to enjoy this serene park. The trails were extremely icy, but we had arrived during a severe winter storm, but the pictures we had captured were breathtaking. The backpacking trails look well maintained and easy to set camp up in. I personally would prefer to hammock camp while backpacking here because there is a thick brush layer even in late january. Such a shame we missed our opportunity, but had to leave a review because it looked AMAZING.
At the intersection of the North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia state lines, sits this national forest which offers multiple dispersed camping areas along Bear Creek. Opportunities for hiking, cycling, fishing, and paddling are abundant. The Appalachian Trail and Virginia Creeper Trail are just minutes away, as well as some easy whitewater paddling fun on the White Top Laurel Creek.
Most of campsites are large, very shaded, along a beautiful treelined road, and surrounded by mountains. There is no drinking water, picnic tables, or even pit toilet, so come prepared. The only major problem is that folks tend to leave a ton of trash around, so we often spend about 20-30 minutes cleaning these sites upon arrival. Please Leave No Trace!
Our site had a good fire ring, and was on the edge of a creek that we could filter water from with ease. We stayed at this camp for 3 weeks during the pandemic shutdown and it was a perfect place to ride out this crazy storm and decompress from some anxiety.
The closest town is Damascus, VA, about 12 miles away. The town is small, but draws thousands of tourists each year who are either hiking the Appalachian Trail or cycling the famous Virginia Creeper bike path. It is equipped with a decent sized grocery store, gas, and couple of restaurants, and a cute downtown area. There is absolutely no cell service at this camp, you have to go into town or hike a local mountain to get service up high.
Just on the edge of Watauga Lake sits this free dispersed camping area that is perfect for tent camping only. This is a park outside the gate and walk your gear in type of place, some bring your IKEA bags or a wagon. Opportunities for fishing and boating are abundant. Most of campsites are large, very shaded, and have at least one fire ring. A handful of sites have direct water access, and are more private.
There is no drinking water, picnic tables, or even pit toilet, so come prepared. The only major problem is that folks tend to leave a ton of trash around, so we spent about an hour cleaning the entire campground. Please Leave No Trace! Also, we would not recommend camping here on a busy weekend because the road is very close and the trucks are very loud!
The nearest town is Butler, which is small but offers the basics such as groceries and gas.
Grayson Highlands State Park is just one of those places you love! The views are awesome, the trails excellent and then there’s wild ponies ! I brought my daughter and granddaughter with me this time and we all had a very good visit. My granddaughter got such a thrill out of meeting wild ponies and there were so many babies, it was so much fun ;) The campground is quiet and the sites are mostly shaded. There’s good separation between sites, though some are a little more open then others. There are a few sites where you are literally sitting on the edge of a very steep drop off, I avoid these ! There are Trailhead’s within the campground and several other very unique and challenging trails. The shower house was a short walk through the trees. The camp Host was across the road from the shower house and next to the dump site. He had firewood on site and was very helpful and informative. No water sports here , but lotsa hiking and stars.