Rocky Knob on the Way to Grayson Highlands

Trip Start Aug 19, 2012
Trip End Dec 30, 2013

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Where I stayed
Grayson Highlands State Park
What I did
Rocky Knob Recreation Area

Flag of United States  , Virginia
Friday, June 21, 2013

This past weekend was our big annual trip to Grayson Highlands State Park.  We left from the Triangle area in the late morning and started making our way towards the Virginia highlands.  To break up the drive and get a little hiking in on Friday, we stopped on the way at Rocky Knob Recreation Area off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Normally when I come here, we hike the Rock Castle Gorge Trail, a strenuous 11-mile loop that runs from the gorge up to the parkway and back.  But we didn't have enough time for that today, so instead we hiked the Black Ridge Trail, a shorter 3-mile loop that stays up on the ridge near the parkway.  We parked by the visitor center, which was closed, and started out on the trail, coming to a split almost immediately.  Turning left at the split to go around the loop in the counter-clockwise direction, we crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway and joined with the Rock Castle Gorge Trail near the Twelve O-Clock Knob Overlook.  From this overlook, we could see into Rock Castle Gorge below and the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond.  Continuing on, the trail follows the much longer Rock Castle Gorge Trail for about a mile, with a few more spots to view Rock Castle Gorge below, before splitting near Grassy Knoll and heading back to the parkway.  Just before crossing the parkway, we crossed through an open meadow with lots of daisies blooming and a view of the chateau/winery in the distance.  Across the parkway, the trail starts heading down gradually through a meadow, where we saw a number of butterflies eating nectar from wildflowers. After a bit, the trail headed into a forested area, crossed a creek, and then headed back up to the parking area, passing a rather large old chimney on the way.  This must have been a big building for such a large chimney, but it's not clear whether it was a home or something else as only the chimney remained.   Back at the cars, we continued on our way to Grayson Highlands.  We set up our tent and had dinner, heading to bed relatively early as we needed our rest for a long hike tomorrow.
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