Wilburn Ridge / Pine Mountain Loop
• Length: 14.4 miles or 15.4 miles (depending on whether we go to Mt. Rogers)
• Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous, but we’ll need to keep the hiking speed up to have time for the long hike coupled with the long drive.
• Carpool: 123 Miles, so let’s round to $12.50 per rider, paid to the driver plus contribution for the parking fee at the state park ($5 per car).
This loop hits much of the best terrain of the Grayson Highlands area. We’ll park at Massie Gap in the state park, head up to the AT, take the AT northbound to the Scales, then head back south along the Pine Mountain Trail to Rhododendron Gap (we may even see some early heath blooms, though mid-May is a little early at that elevation). We’ll then do an out-and-back to Thomas Knob Shelter with the option of peak-bagging Mt. Rogers itself. The last leg is then the AT / blue blazes over Wilburn Ridge back to the state park. If we limit the hike to Thomas Knob Shelter, it will be 14.4 miles — 15.4 miles (approx.) if we add Mt. Rogers.
• Hiking Upward has a good write-up of the route: Click Here for their site. No use in reinventing the wheel by having me blather on about it.
• If the weather turns bad on this date, I will likely cancel the event (meaning an all day wash-out, not just a chance of afternoon showers).
• I will be leaving from the end of the hike and driving to Damascus for Trail Days. You are more than welcome to join! It would be great to have a strong RATC presence at Trail Days, and the festival is worth experiencing if you’ve never been before. The RSVP will ask you if you intend to go to Trail Days or back to Roanoke from the end of the hike.