Winter in Grayson Highlands State Park

February 24, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Me legs sure are tired from 3 snowy day hikes!  The last of which took me to the beautiful Mount Rogers Recreation Area...

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. I love all these old trees on the Appalachian Trail, especially when the high winds make snow and ice stick right to them!  I had the opportunity recently to head up to the frozen, other-worldly landscape of Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers Recreation Area.

Both Buffalo Mountain and Wilburn Ridge are GREAT spots to learn photography!  They both have unique benefits and challenges. If you'd like to come along and learn photography with me, click here!

If you would like to skip straight to the galleries..

Big Pinnacle and Wilburn Ridge Gallery

Grayson Highlands Ponies Gallery

Buffalo Mountain Nature Preserve Gallery

Really quickly, since the following photos aren't quite enough to merit their own post, here are a few images from a hike up to Buffalo Mountain Nature Preserve.  

I had a a little sundog appear shortly, somewhat noticeably on the far right of the image, and more noticeable on the left side. 

Buffalo Mountain Nature PreserveBuffalo Mountain Nature PreserveImages from the trail and overlook of Buffalo Mountain in Floyd County Virginia.

Buffalo Mountain Nature PreserveBuffalo Mountain Nature PreserveImages from the trail and overlook of Buffalo Mountain in Floyd County Virginia. Buffalo Mountain Nature PreserveBuffalo Mountain Nature PreserveImages from the trail and overlook of Buffalo Mountain in Floyd County Virginia. All in all it was a very pretty sunset given the snowstorm that came through the area recently. 

Buffalo Mountain Nature PreserveBuffalo Mountain Nature PreserveImages from the trail and overlook of Buffalo Mountain in Floyd County Virginia. Alright... back to Wilburn Ridge.  The snow up here had been under the sun during the previous day, causing it to be really hard on top and soft underneath.  These conditions made walking through it somewhat of a slow task... I mean, it's not hard, but it takes about twice as long to get up to the ridge.  Combine the snow conditions with the beauty of the area making me stop every 12ft and take a photo, and I ain't gettin' very far!

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. I started at Massie Gap, as you can see there haven't been very many visitors that have come through here lately.  Once I got up higher I did end up following some tracks for a short while on the Appalachian Trail.

The next photo was taken just beyond the old fence.  At this point I wasn't sure if I was gonna have a good time or not!  The clouds were moving really fast and a REALLY cold wind caused me to find a bush to hide behind so I could put on my hoodie to keep my neck from freezing.
Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens.

Now that I was all bundled up, I made my way up towards Wilburn Ridge, but first, I spotted the ponies milling about in the field, which was nice because from there you can see Big Pinnacle, and I think Big Pinnacle make a nice backdrop for pony portraits:)

Wild Ponies Grayson HighlandsWild Ponies Grayson HighlandsImages of the Wild Ponies in Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers recreation area. Wild Ponies Grayson HighlandsWild Ponies Grayson HighlandsImages of the Wild Ponies in Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers recreation area. Even though the wind was still pretty strong, it started to clear out the clouds and let some nice sunshine fall on the area.

Wild Ponies Grayson HighlandsWild Ponies Grayson HighlandsImages of the Wild Ponies in Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers recreation area. As I headed up towards the gate(it is where you leave the State Park and enter Mount Rogers) I noticed the famous 'Fabio' heading my way.  He sure is a pretty pony.

Wild Ponies Grayson HighlandsWild Ponies Grayson HighlandsImages of the Wild Ponies in Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers recreation area. Wild Ponies Grayson HighlandsWild Ponies Grayson HighlandsImages of the Wild Ponies in Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers recreation area. Once I got up past the gate, I REALLY started to have fun.  The sunshine was getting more and more frequent, the clouds started to show some nice blues, and the trees lit up very nicely.

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. Most of the 'lone' trees up here have a bit of a slant to them.  The winds up here are often very strong, causing trees that aren't in a cluster to lean as they grow.  This is very apparent in the photo below, where a big tall tree stands by itself in the meadow.

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens.

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. The thing I love about this area, is that if you see it, you can walk to it.  These big, open meadows really give you the freedom to just about go anywhere!  On the way to a cool hemlock I spotted in the distance, I looked back and took this photo of some old fence posts with Big Pinnacle in the background.  

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens.

The previously mentioned hemlock..  I shot this tree from a few different angles.

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens.

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens.

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. A sundog showed up briefly...  you can see it in the center of the frame.

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens.

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. While heading to yet another sweet looking dead tree, a saw this fallen one that had succumbed to the high winds.  I guess they can't last forever.  In the upper left you can see the hemlock from the few earlier images. 

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens.

Another dead frozen tree...

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens.

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens.

As the sun started to go down, I raced around grabbing as many photos as I could.

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens. A quick self portrait prior to starting my way down the mountain...  I turned 31 this weekend, and even though I don't feel old, I sure do feel like I might be roughly 1/3 through my life(provided I keep eating my fruits and veggies).  To me, a birthday's only significance is to remind me that we only get so much time on the earth, and to get out to places like this as often as possible...

Grayson Highlands WinterGrayson Highlands WinterImages from a winter hike up to Wilburn Ridge in Grayson Highlands State Park. A recent snow and high winds caused snow to stick to all the hemlocks, bushes and evergreens.

Thanks for looking..


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