Saturday, my family concluded our week-long vacation in southwest Virginia. As always, we stayed at Hungry Mother State Park in Marion, VA, which has been a family vacation spot for nearly a decade.
For the uninitiated, HMSP is the crown jewel of the state park system: it has miles of hiking trails, a freshwater lake for fishing and swimming, and cabins in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It also has access to all the recreational and cultural hot spots of southwest Virginia.
On Tuesday, we rode the Creeper Trail from Whitetop Mountain to Damascus (see previous post). On Wednesday, we hiked “Mollie’s Knob” at Hungry Mother, then swam at the beach at Hungry Mother Lake.
On Thursday, we traveled down Rte. 16 and visited the Grayson Highlands State Park. Imagine Switzerland with country music. That’s Grayson County, which runs along the crest of the Blue Ridge facing North Carolina. The views from the Park are fabulous, especially from the “Twin Peaks” looking north to Mt. Rogers (the heighest point in VA at 5900 feet). I’ll come back to hike it another time.
Friday, we visited Abingdon. Besides being a charming Appalachian town and home of the famous Barter Theatre, Abingdon is a key intersection on the Crooked Road of Country Music lore and is the jump-off spot for the “Creeper Trail.” At the entrance of town is the Heartwood Museum which is the visitor center for the Virginia Highlands. Pick up a book or CD about mountain music.
My one regret this trip is that we missed our usual jaunt to New River Trail State Park, as the river was running high due to several days of rain. NRT is a 57-mile linear trail running from the Carolina state line, down through Grayson and into Wythe County. The best access point is “Foster Falls,” where you can rent boats or bikes, or go on a horse trail ride. There’s also a triathalon — kayaking, mountain biking, running – in September along the New River Trail. (Don’t tell anyone, but southwest Virginia is quietly turning into a mecca for outdoors enthusiasts).
Through it all, we kept our base of operations in Hungry Mother and Marion itself, which has all the necessary amenities, including a sports bar to watch the Redskins.
When we’re there, we feel like we’re family.